Josh Hawkins reflects on going viral with his YouTube channel, hijosh, as a result of Throwing Stuff into Stuff and teaching the world How to Speak Australian.
I’ve been putting out videos for almost ten years. Every now and then I’d put out something and I’d be like, ‘You know, this has the potential to go really big.’ But none of them ever really did until the last couple of videos. I didn’t actually realise what ‘viral’ was until it happened. And then I was: ‘Like why? Why do people like this stuff?’
The Aussie one, How to Speak Australian, was really cool. It’s almost educational! It’s actually teaching Americans and other cultures how we talk and why we speak like we do.
I’ve been putting out videos since before I went to Bible College, before I became a pastor, before I even knew I wanted to be a pastor.
I love doing ministry at church but I also love being creative and coming up with really strange YouTube videos. The two go hand-in-hand.
After my first video went viral, I was given the opportunity for an interview. I thought maybe it would be my only chance at something like that, so I was secretly hoping to be able to use this as a platform to just drop a little hint of Jesus or the Gospel.
So I was chatting with celebrity agent, Max Markson, after the interview was over and I said, ‘I’m a pastor. Do you think I should use that with the video stuff or should I drop it to focus on video production?’ I wasn’t serious; it was all a bit tongue-in-cheek. But he took the question and ran with it. We got talking about God’s will and when God’s in what you do, then you’re never going to fail.
And I was: ‘What?! This is a secular radio station!’ The segment was pre-recorded and they didn’t end up cutting the convo out. I thought, ‘Wow! This is insane!’
One of the last videos I put up I put up, I actually posted a link to the sermon I preached that was related to the video. I just threw it out there, basically saying, ‘If you’re interested in hearing more, here’s a sermon that I preached. Over the next couple of days, I just received a whole bunch of messages from people who listened to the sermon. I didn’t really expect that.’
I’m mainly encouraging Christians who find it difficult to be in the world and to balance their faith in a secular place.
I don’t put heaps of thought or intention into everything I do but I hope that people see something different in me and that that sparks a conversation or a question.
I got involved in this competition where it was about dancing for 24 hours. I decided to get creative and brought along a change of clothes for every hour. They changed the style of music every hour, so it worked well. I made this little t-shirt that said I belong to Jesus.
I borrowed the idea from a soccer player, Kaká, from Brazil. After every match he’d take off his jersey and he’d have an I belong to Jesus shirt underneath. I love that he gives people this little drop of ‘I’m a Christian and this is really important to me.’
I wore it in the last hour of the dancing comp and, funnily enough, I won. Immediately I was on the radio and the host actually asked me about the t-shirt. I got to explain it. And I talked about going to church on Sunday. If you get to listen to the interview, again it’s just a very small drop that points people to Jesus.
Hopefully it didn’t come across as weird and it might just have sparked some interest. Of course, there have been other interviews where a chance to talk about Jesus hasn’t happened. But I’m not trying to force the issue.
When God makes the opening, then I’ll seize the opportunity and speak!