Justin Khoe, also known as That Christian Vlogger, isn’t afraid of controversy. On his YouTube channel, he tackles tough topics like women in ministry, homosexuality and politics. He investigates what the Bible really says about them, and debates the big issues with his viewers, and even other YouTubers.
‘I like to talk about subjects that most of the time you won’t hear from a sermon on the weekend,’ he told Matt and Alex. Of course, he gets a lot of negative responses, but he thinks these subjects are too important to avoid. ‘If we, as a church, tend to not have these conversations, then how are we able to influence those conversations for the positive?’
Born and raised in Glennville, California, Justin came to God as a teenager when a friend invited him to a Bible study. ‘I was going through high school, trying to figure out life, trying to figure out purpose, and direction, and cause, and all these kinds of things we tend to think about around that time. I started going, week after week after week, and—long story short—my life was changed. For the first time, I had a reason to wake up every morning, something to put my full energies behind.’
Before he came to Christ, Justin thought the rest of his life would be mostly clocking in and out. ‘You live, and you work, and you do your nine-to-five, and maybe get to enjoy yourself on the weekends here and there.’
Realising life could be more was an eye-opening experience. ‘For me what stood out a lot was hey, you know what, that doesn’t have to be my existence. I can live and enjoy life every single day. When I was doing that for Christ, it made all the difference.’
Justin’s main ministry is his YouTube channel and, through that, God has helped him make some unlikely connections. Recently he has struck up a surprising friendship with a fellow YouTuber who calls himself the Raging Atheist. ‘A few months ago I found his channel, and lo and behold, there was my face in a thumbnail on one of his videos.’
‘So I listened to the video. It had a relatively colourful description of my channel, and attacking some of the things I was talking about. But rather than get offended I was just like thanks so much for engaging with the content. I really appreciate what you were talking about.’
Justin even suggested the two of them meet up for coffee if they were ever in the same city. Watching his videos in the following months, he saw the Raging Atheist’s demeanour start to change. ‘He’s still the Raging Atheist. He still makes videos attacking people of faith, but when he talks about my channel in particular, there’s a lot more sensitivity to that.’
‘In one of his videos, a fellow atheist started commenting and attacking me and all these different things. The Raging Atheist actually came to my defence. He said hey, you don’t understand what Justin’s trying to do. I’m a good friend of his and I really appreciate what he’s doing.’
Some of Justin’s most popular videos are about relationships, answering questions like ‘Should Christians kiss before marriage?’ and ‘Why do many Christian girls remain single?’ He says these questions are particularly important to his audience, who are mostly young and single.
And so I know, for a fact, lives have been changed by YouTube ministries, and I believe, by faith, that they continue to be changed
In the midst of peer pressure, media messaging and parental warnings, these young Christians often feel extremely confused about how to approach things like dating. They’re looking for clear, Biblical guidance, and Justin is there to provide that.
‘They want to know what does it look like to be a faithful Christian in all aspects of my life—in how I’m studying the Bible, praying, and doing mission work. But down to the nitty-gritty, down to my day-to-day things: what does it look like, played out through my relationships?’
Justin invites discussion around his videos, and encourages people to speak up when they don’t agree with him. ‘The reactions are always going to be very, very mixed. You get people that understand your heart and where you’re coming from, and then you have people that only hear what they want to hear. And that’s common in most areas of life I find.’
But these kinds of conversations are important, not only because they’re part of social media culture, but also because approaching disagreements gracefully can open the minds and hearts of people like the Raging Atheist.
‘I hold a very traditional view of marriage,’ Justin said. ‘I believe God has reserved sexuality for a man and a woman in a long-term relationship. We can call that marriage if you like. But I realise that there are people out there who disagree with me. And so I actually wanted to invite someone who disagreed with me onto the channel.’
The result was a five-part series in which Justin explored faith and sexuality with Matthias Roberts, a podcaster on LGBT Christianity. ‘He actually identifies as gay, and is, in his perspective, a very faithful and God-honouring Christian.’
In their conversation, they discussed how disagreeing with the homosexual lifestyle, from a Biblical perspective, isn’t homophobic, and aimed to model how to approach these kinds of disagreements kindly and lovingly—issues which even many Church leaders find hard to approach.
Those videos are a great example of Justin’s commitment to tackling questions many of us ask, and few attempt to answer. ‘I’m trying to find subjects that people want to talk about, subjects that are relevant, that actually matter to people’s lives.’
Justin often gets messages and emails from people who’ve been impacted by his channel. ‘People often will write I’m so excited to find this because I just became a Christian, or I’ve been thinking about giving my life to Jesus, and this has been really encouraging for me to hear your story.’
One of the inspirations behind his own YouTube ministry was a student he taught at a school in Philadelphia who became a Christian thanks to another YouTuber. ‘After getting to know him and discipling him a little bit more, I actually had the privilege of baptising him.’
‘And so I know, for a fact, lives have been changed by YouTube ministries, and I believe, by faith, that they continue to be changed.’
In John chapter 21, Jesus’ disciples catch nothing all through the night, until he tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat, and suddenly, it’s full of fish. Today, the Church is struggling to find and keep young followers. But maybe ‘the right side’ is in the social media sphere, where Justin is working.
‘Regular church attendance is defined as somewhere in the realm of maybe two times a month,’ he said. ‘So that means that you’re spending, on average, two hours out of an entire month on spiritual content.’
But young people are spending an average of four hours a day on social media. Justin sees that as a huge opportunity. ‘Why wouldn’t we want to have content there? Why wouldn’t we want to be able to engage in spiritual discussion there, and to be able to build relationships there?’
Every week contains 168 hours. Beyond that hour on a Sunday morning, Justin points out that there are 167 more in which ministries could be reaching people, in their commutes and lunch breaks and free moments. ‘You’re able to impact people where they are and it’s so cool to be able to do that.’
We love Justin’s work, and we think you will too. To check out his videos and join the conversation, just search for That Christian Vlogger on YouTube. Here’s one of our favourites.