TikTok Vicar in parliament

Published: 22nd March 2024

The 'TikTok Vicar' from Aldridge, Revd David Sims was one of a select group of content creators invited to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday to join an Easter Roundtable highlighting Christian voices on the platform.

Hosted by Nick Fletcher MP and his own MP, Wendy Morton and organised by TikTok, they discussed the role of what is the  he company and Nick Fletcher MPs. Participants included a couple of vicars, youthworkers and other Christian 'influencers'.

David began using TikTok for fun during the lockdowns of 2020, but quickly found that sharing his faith there came naturally. 

"We had such good stories on TikTok of people that couldn't go to church then and can't go to church anymore because they've got the children with additional needs and that always makes church a bit more tricky, sadly, or they've got a really hard past with church, they find church painful. So for them, our Tik Tok church on a Sunday night, that is church. Jesus went out in the marketplace preaching and teaching all over the place. And we're doing our best to use Tik Tok to connect as much as we can.

"I think what we're seeing in society is is a big openness to those bigger questions. We had a big rise in New Atheism a few years ago, you know, the angry atheist, and actually what we're at now, I think, is a place where we can have those discussions nice nicely, we can disagree sometimes but we do that warmly and winsome hopefully. Tik Tok is one place to answer those big big questions about life and and death and suffering that I think lots of us want to ask. For mnay, Tik Tok gives us a safe place to ask those big questions that but I think as Christians, we have to engage with."

And 'many' is a big number. In January, UK users of social media spent more time on Tiktok than in any other country in the world. It is also the most used platform in the country by a significant margin: two-and-a-half times longer on TikTok than the next most popular platform, Youtube, three times more than Facebook, four times more than Snapchat and five times more than Instagram. Forty percent of the audience is aged 18-24 years. 

For David now has over 16,000 followers on his TikTok account. Chatting to Mollie Green on BBC WM's Breakfast show yesterday (from 1h05'35"), he was challenged about the temptation to let his ego grow with that following:

Mollie: "How about the fact that social media is about about the person doing it, the person on TikTok than the organization. How do you stop this from from for want of a better phrase, from being about you rather than the church?"

David replied: "I think, Mollie, that's a really good challenge, something that I try really hard to do every time is end my live - so we go live once a week or twice a week and we have a bit of Q&A and people ask questions and I get my guitar out. We sing some songs - but I'll always end with is this phrase, 'I would love you to follow me on Tik Tok but actually, more importantly than that, I'd like you to follow Jesus.'"

He was asked how this fits with his older, non-TikTok local congregation:

"They're all really supportive of it. We've seen people join our church through Tik Tok, which is which is brilliant, and something that lots of the older people do is support it through prayer and through giving Bibles. So we send 20 to 30 Bible every month to people to ask for them. And obviously that can cost a bit of money and we’re not a rich church so people will want to support that by giving us Bibles to take. And also we offer prayer on Tik Tok. And it's amazing how many people of all faiths and no faith would say, look, I'm going through a really tough time. Can you pray for me? Can you pray for this? And we will pray for every single person that asks for prayer on Tik Tok."

It has become something of a whole-church ministry: "Sometimes that's hundreds and hundreds of people [wanting me to pray for them] and so sometimes I will delegate that anonymously to some of what we call prayer warriors in church, people that love to pray. And they will look after them, which is really kind of them."

Despite its popularity among the younger generation, TikTok remains something of a mystery to the average churchgoer. It is much more focussed than say Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that mix text, photos and video to different degrees. TikTok is all about short videos.

"There's a real sense of engaging with those short videos. They're often ten, 15 seconds long, the ones that get the most traction, they're the ones that you want to do so. So the challenge of Tik Tok, particularly for me as a vicar, is trying to get a message, you know, into a five second clip really to engage with people. But then there's also kind of trends that you can jump on as well. So, you know, songs that are trending, effects that are trending. Then there's lots of dancing that I tend to stay away from because my wife disowns me If I start dancing too much, probably quite rightly!"

David can be found on TikTok as @tiktok_vicar.


Page last updated: Friday 22nd March 2024 1:55 PM
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