This is a vertical media site rather than a social media site. The audience is Jesus. Not in the sense that He has a preferred internet browser and device, but in the sense that the purpose is to offer Him thanks for the ways He pursues and engages us.
This focus is in contrast to social media, where the audience is other people, and where the goal has more to do with making and winning an argument. That’s not our intention. We offer our stories and our gratitude in the sight of other people so they can make the promises and comforts of Jesus their own. When they see how He interacts with other people, they respond. But we’re not here to argue, convince, or to explain experiences beyond the experiences people describe. Our objective is to be “pre-doctrine.”
Doctrine Matters. Just Not Everywhere to the Same Extent.
Understanding, application, and doctrine matter. And there is no shortage of churches or resources to explore those topics. They are both how people process experiences, and very often the context that gives rise to critical, life-giving experiences. They are also where social debates take place, and where important interpersonal, “horizontal” dynamics and their associated distractions live.
Our desire is to focus vertically, the Bride of humanity (especially the 2.4 billion Christians in the world) gazing upon and falling more in love with the Groom of Jesus. The Bride has been called to love and invite the other two-thirds of the world’s population to meet the Groom. Our goal is to help the Bride adore the Groom with a clear gaze, and to let that adoration define the heart the Bride takes to the world.
What Vertical Media Looks Like
We’re figuring this out as we go, and there are some tricky choices to navigate because social media and social thinking is the default for most of the world (and because we’re not against it), but here are a few starting thoughts and plans for us…
- We want to share stories where Jesus is the star of the show, not us, and not a principle or concept.
- Our focus is Jesus in the context of the Cross or His current glory (the Cross is easier to show).
- We think the stories focus on Him best when they begin with “Jesus, thank you for…”
Duty of Care in Vertical Media
- We curate stories to protect the physical safety of people who share from closed countries.
- We do not share stories from this site to social media (but we cannot prevent others from doing so).
- The exception to this is content we produce (eg podcasts) that includes explicitly approved stories.
Vertical Media Content Curation
- We invite testimonies that focus on Jesus, but limit stories that focus on doctrine or teaching.
- We limit political or agenda content (eg “Thank you Jesus for January 6 / the right to abortion”).
- We are still figuring out “Jesus didn’t” stories, issues of theology and relational intent are tricky here.
Partners and Products
- We have several ways to partner with ministries, but the only “brand” we point to is Jesus.
- Our partners and products focus on Jesus stories. We’re figuring out the exact definitions there.
- We want to find donation paths that produce either Jesus stories or Jesus story-based revenue.
Vertical Media, Social IRL
- IRL = in real life. We believe a focus on Jesus in private grows the love of Jesus with people.
- We want to teach and explore Jesus stories and storytelling with anyone: He transcends tribes.
- We want people to see and dive into everyday relationship with Jesus, not just highlight moments.
There have been men before … who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself … as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Parallels to Worship (Music), Prayer, Community, and the Rest
It seems there’s a progression in the things of God. Call it “where your eyes go.” At first we see a social dynamic or an intellectual concept, and we agree it is right or good or in some other way worthy of engaging. “I’ll try praying,” or “Fine, let’s check out that discussion group,” or “I notice truth about God in that song.”
From Self to Social
From there, our eyes fall to some practical application of what we noticed. It’s usually related to some improvement in ourselves, but it’s often some key to a better life for some other person or group. We pray for something. Maybe we do something good and lovely. Perhaps we turn to music for the way it speaks to us or others. Maybe this happens because we’re agreeing to look at something Jesus loves with Him.
From Social to Vertical
What seems to happen next is almost like when a person is captivated by a beautiful sunset. They’re surprised to find another person standing beside them, also appreciating the sunset. The first person’s whispered “wow” about the sunset is met with a whispered “isn’t it incredible” from the second person. Something about seeing and agreeing with Jesus often leads us to notice and engage Him directly.
When we see Jesus directly, appreciation and gratitude dominate our attention and language. This is the Holy Spirit revealing more of Jesus to us. “Have you noticed this?” “Watch how He does that.” “Consider His kindness.” We watch and appreciate what Jesus is like and the things Jesus does. Soon, we begin to hear the invitation to be and do with and like Jesus.
Life floods into verses like the apostle Paul saying “follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) or Jesus saying “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he wishes.” (John 5:19-21)
From About Jesus TO Jesus
This is the stage where we think we see vertical media get real. Worship, stories, and gratitude go TO Jesus where they’ve previously been ABOUT Him. It’s where love and service, peace and gentleness to ourselves and others is FOR and WITH Jesus where it’s previously been BECAUSE of Him. ABOUT and BECAUSE are good – miraculous in a fallen world – but TO, FOR, and WITH are expressions of a more direct and intimate connection. This is the space we intend for Jesus Does. We believe a testimony or Jesus story TO Him for what He does will make for more compelling WITH Jesus testimonies when they’re delivered as invitations to others. This is the goal of what we’re calling “vertical media.”
From Vertical Media to Loving Social
Things return to social (though we hope an elevated social is possible) when we consider the question “what is the Father doing?” It seems the Father longs for eternal living reconciliation and ultimate loving intimacy with us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17) The stronger our vertical connection, the clearer our view of what Jesus does. And the purer our ability to do what the Father is doing. It is an invitation to upgrade from “command intent” to immediate intimacy with the Commander. His desires are the ultimate in social connection.
A Work in Progress
By our definition, vertical success is measured not by metrics, rules, or principles, but by intimacy with Jesus. It does and will always take practice and patience. Similar to learning to ride a unicycle, we need structures to hold before we let go and test our balance. And we need structures to grab as we tip one way or the other. And then the point is to move in that balance.
Thank you for joining us in this effort. Let’s watch each other as we go. Let’s take our questions and doubts to Jesus along the way, and see what Jesus Does.