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Friday, August 20, 2021 - 15:26

TikTok

Tick-tock, tick-tock—we all grew up that bit of onomatopoeia (a fun word to look up and pronounce) embedded in children’s stories. Everybody knows the sound of a clock. But the Chinese company ByteDance is betting that before long “tick-tock” will be forever eclipsed by “TikTok,” the hottest new social media app star on the planet.

How big is this global phenomenon? Consider this handful of factoids: 

  • “The platform has 732 million users–and more than 14 million new users jumping on every day. If we extrapolate things from when that stat was released in October, that number is probably more like 818 million today. This means TikTok will hit a billion users in about a year.
  • “That’s more than double Spotify’s total user number. However, YouTube reaches 2 billion. Still, 732 million is nothing to sneeze at.
  • “An average of 100 million people reliably use TikTok every month in just the United States.
  • “The average TikTok user checks in with the app 19(!!!) times a day. NINETEEN!
  • “The average user spends 89 minutes per day on TikTok.
  • “The demos of users are as follows: 17% are between 13 and 17. 42% are between 18 and 24. Another 22% are between 25 and 34. 12% goes to 34-44. Only 7% are over 45. No real surprise there, huh?” (www.ajournalofmusicalthings.com/how-big-is-tiktok-bigger-than-you-might-think/).

All of which means I am one of the 7%-over-age-45 users of TikTok—as of last Thursday, actually. (Hold the applause.)

Why would a self-respecting middle-aged adult male (let alone pastor) venture onto teeny-bopper/young-adult turf (59% of TikTok users)? Because this winter you and I challenged ourselves to move out into the crowded thoroughfares of social media and become “a house by the side of the road”—from which we could share with passers-by the profound truth, “The Maker of all things loves and wants me.” Remember?

Thanks to the coaxing and coaching of one of our pastors (hint—the one who preached on the use of social media this winter—whose initials are RO), I decided it wasn’t enough to be on Twitter (a platform I’ve occupied for almost a decade). I needed to tiptoe into the cacophony of noise and music and colors and messages that TikTok has become to pitch what I still believe is the greatest universal truth today: “The Maker of all things loves and wants me.”

And so if you go to my new TikTok account (@pastordwight), you’ll see a half dozen videos taped between last Thursday and yesterday—all of them with the winsome message, “The Maker of all things loves and wants me.”

Because I’m hoping that there are young and not-so-young TikTok users out there, wandering through those noisy, provocative, creative (you can’t imagine the level of creativity the young users bring to their video clips!), sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes lewd posts, with an empty heart that longs for meaning and purpose heretofore elusive to their quest. That’s a long sentence to simply say I believe these are the thoroughfares Jesus and Paul would traverse today. Why? To reach out to and touch the lives of people “whose hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (to paraphrase Augustine).

“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men [and women] as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me’” (Ministry of Healing 143). TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat—these are the thoroughfares where traverse billions of this planet daily.

So why not take a deep breath and plunge into the waters yourself? You’ve got nothing to lose, and perhaps a life or two to win for the Savior because of your venture for Jesus. You’re welcome to check out my account. The numbers posted there are those of a newbie. But drop by Pastor Rodlie’s account (@pastor.rodlie) for IMHO astounding numbers for someone who has been faithfully witnessing for only five months now, with the highest number of views going to his short (under 60-second) prayers (notice how many TikTok users are drawn to simply a prayer!). Why even you or I could do that!

In the end, I can tell you (here at the beginning) that prayer is what animates my own simple TikTok efforts. Before each shoot, I appeal to the Holy Spirit to get me through the next sixty seconds (the maximum length allowed) with something that He could use to trigger the attention or touch the heart of a stranger. What happens after that? I keep praying. And trying. Which is all Jesus asks of any of us, isn’t it? 

Tick-tock, tick-tock. That’s the sound of time running out for a civilization on the brink. So why not take the plunge, while there’s still time?