The Top Viral YouTube Videos of 2017 (And What It Means for Kid's Ministry)

If you want to get a snapshot of the topics, trends, issues and entertainment that are appealing and important to the culture as a whole, then look at what is popular on YouTube.

YouTube has grown to be one of the biggest news and entertainment platforms in the world.  Consider the latest stats...
  • over 1.3 billion people use YouTube
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day
  • 80% of 18-49-year-olds watch YouTube
Below is a list of the top ten viral YouTube videos of 2017.  YouTube ranked the videos by views, likes, comments, shares and more.  These 10 videos were viewed more than 633 million times for over 40 million hours on Google's video platform. 

I believe it is important that we are aware of what is going on in our culture and know how to navigate and lead effectively in it.  The Bible says this in 1 Chronicles 12:32...
From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives.  All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.
Notice first that they were leaders.

Secondly, notice that they understood the signs of the time.

Thirdly, notice that this enabled them to know the best course to take.  In other words, because they understood the culture, they were able to lead effectively in it.

Let's take a look inside our culture through the lens of these videos.  This is not an endorsement of these videos, but simply an analysis of the meaning behind them and what it means for us as children's ministry leaders.

#1 - Until We Become Dust - Oyster Mask by the Mask Singer (over 192 million views)

The man in the oyster mask was on the latest season of "The Mask Singer" which is a singing competition involving masked celebrities in elaborate costumes.  Their identities are revealed only when they are defeated. The singer was later revealed to be Panthapol Prasarnratchakij from the Thai rock band Cocktail.  

Talent shows that allow viewers to pull for people and help them realize their dreams are very popular.  People help determine the winners by voting online or by text.  In many of these type shows, the producers also take you behind the scenes into the lives of the people in the competition....
especially if their story is about overcoming challenges and difficulties.   
Children's ministries can learn from this and be intentional about sharing the stories of people in the Bible who overcame difficulty to triumph (Joseph is a good example)

We can also share the stories of kids and families in our ministry who have overcome difficulties in their Christian journey.  This can be done by video as well as in person.  When you do this, you show people the impact they can have in the lives of other people and they are inspired to get involved, give and serve.

#2 - Ed Sheeran - Shape of You / Kyle Hanagami Choreography (over 123 million views)

Choreographer Kyle Hanagami shared this video to YouTube showing a group of dancers performing an upbeat, routine to the song.

What can we learn from this?  Choreography can be a powerful method of sharing your message.  Many ministries use choreography in their worship and storytelling.  From the response to this video, it's obvious it's a very popular method of communicating that churches should consider using if they are not.

#3 - Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 / Dude Perfect 
(over 96 million views)

Dude perfect is a group of guys who are all former high school basketball payers and college roommates at Texas A & M.  They do trick shot videos and battles where they compete in various competitions. 

Kids (and adults) love to be part of crazy challenges and games.  Use games and challenges in your ministry for the purpose of teaching and reinforcing the truth you are communicating.

#4 -  Darci Lynne: 12-Year-Old Singing Ventriloquist Gets Golden Buzzer - America's Got Talent (over 42 million views)

Darci, a 12-year-old who uses ventriloquism to overcome her shyness, stunned the crowd with a surprising singing act!  She wowed everyone and got a Golden Buzzer from Mel B. on the show "America's Got Talent."  She went on to win the entire competition.

The church must recognize that kids can make an impact now.  Yes, they are the church of tomorrow, but they are also the church of today.  We must believe in kids, invest in them and challenge them to use the gifts God has placed in them.  The church of tomorrow is already here.

#5 - Ed Sheeran Carpool Karaoke with James Corden (over 40 million views)

Ed Sheeran is a popular singer and songwriter.  In this video, he joins James Corden to sing some of his songs in the popular segment called "carpool karaoke."  The appeal of this video first and foremost is the popularity of the show segment itself.  The segment features Corden with celebrities such as Adele, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Selena Gomez, Michelle Obama, Stevie Wonder and more.

What makes this so popular?  One thing is seeing two people having genuine fun together.  And Corden seems to always have a positive, fun-loving attitude that people are drawn to.

One thing I think we can learn from this is this:  People are looking for hope, encouragement and positivism.  They are beaten down all week by the world, pace of life and pressures they face.  When they walk in the doors of our church they need to be met with a smile and have life spoken into them.

#6 - Lady Gaga's Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl KI Halftime Show / NFL (over 37 million views)

Lady Gaga went from the roof to the stage in one of the most acrobatic & incredible Super Bowl halftime show performances of all time.  The set list was God Bless America, This Land is Your Land, Poker Face, Born this Way, Telephone, Just Dance, Million Reasons and Bad Romance.

Whatever you think of Lady Gaga, there is no denying that this highlights the power of music.  It is a force that moves people and can even change people's hearts...for better or worse.  Why is music so powerful?  Because it originated in heaven.  It can be used for good or bad.

Worship music has always been a huge part of the church's heartbeat and must continue to be so.  God inhabits the praises of His people.  There is an anointing that comes when God's people worship.  There is room in the church for all styles of worship music.  Each church must decide what best fits the generational expressions of it's congregants.  As we worship in authenticity, children will develop a heart for worship as they see it modeled by adults.

#7 - Inauguration Day - A Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump's Inauguration (over 35 million views)

The Bad Lip reading videos poke fun of everything from movies to sports events to politicians to musicians and more.

I think one thing the church can learn from this is remember that people love humor.  Sometimes we just need to lighten up and laugh a little.  When unchurched guests walk in the door and are greeted by people whose faces look like they were baptized in pickle juice, they are not likely to return.  

It's okay to smile at church.  Our facial expressions and attitudes should reflect the joy of the Lord, not the sadness of "enduring to the end."

It's a good thing for kids to have fun at churchIt's also good to use slapstick humor when you are teaching kids.  It can be used to grab their attention and communicate the truth.

We want to see kids and families who walk in our church doors with a frown, leave with a smile on their face.

#8 - History of the World, I Guess (over 35 million views)

This animated, cleverly done video takes viewers through the entire history of the world.  It presents evolution as the origin of all things living so it's approach is a secular world view.

Why would people be drawn to this video?  I believe deep inside, every person longs to know how they got here and why they are here.  What is my purpose?  What do I have to live for?  What will happen after I leave this world?  Where is history leading us?

What an opportunity we have to help kids and families discover the answer to these questions.  We know that we were created by God the Father to have fellowship with Him and bring glory to His name.  We have the truth that will fill the missing hole in people's hearts who do not yet know Jesus.  Let's be busy sharing it.

We also have to be intentional about teaching children apologetics.  If we don't help them find the right answers to these questions, they will get the wrong answers from the world.  Kids are growing growing up in a culture that says there is no absolute truth.  We must help them know why we believe what we believe and develop a deep faith foundation.

#9 - In a Heartbeat - Animated Short Film by Beth David and Esteban Bravo (over 32 million views)

In this film, a closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.

This video affirms same sex attraction and is a stark reminder that the LGBTQ agenda is one of the major issues our nation is grappling with.  Public opinion has definitely shifted over the last few years and it is becoming much more accepted.

The church is struggling with how to respond to this issue.  Some have drawn a hard line in the sand while others have been swept away by the pressure to conform to political correctness.  This is an issue that will continue to be in the forefront.  How the church responds will effect our ability to impact people for Christ.  

This is a messy issue and it is going to take wisdom to navigate it in the days ahead.  Here are some articles that can be of help.

Transgender Children...A Christian Leader's Response 

4 Big Questions Children's Ministries Must Answer About Same Sex Relationships

#10 - Children Interrupt BBC News Interview - BBC News (over 25 million views)

There was an unexpected distraction for Professor Robert Kelly when he was being interviewed live on BBC News about South Korea.  He was doing the interview from home and his children interrupted the interview.  But he managed to keep his composure and complete the interview successfully.

I believe this video gained so many views because it's a great reminder to everyone that family is what matters most.  In the midst of our busy, "important" schedules, we need to remember what is most important.  Not to mention, the kids are adorable.

I also believe that it's a great reminder to the church that children's ministry should not a distraction, but rather a priority.  Churches that see children's ministry as simply babysitting are missing the opportunity to reach and disciple people at the most important time in their life...childhood.

It's time the church brings children's ministry to the forefront in our priorities, strategies, budgeting, vision and planning.  Then and only then will we see the next generation reached for Christ. 

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What other takeaways for the church do you see reflected in these videos?  Share your thoughts, insight and ideas in the comment section below.