Great Was the Company of Those that Published It

Bryan Wolfmueller (Round Rock, Texas USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Bryan Wolfmueller is pastor of St. Paul and Jesus Deaf Lutheran Churches in Austin, Texas. He is the author of "Take They Our Life – Martin Luther’s Theology of Martyrdom" (2019), "A Martyr’s Faith for a Faithless World" (Concordia Publishling House, 2019), "Has American Christianity Failed?" (CPH, 2016) and "Final Victory – Contemplating the Death and Funeral of a Christian" (CPH, 2010). He is the co-host of the Table Talk Radio podcast, posts videos on YouTube at wolfmueller1, and has a number of other theological projects that all end up on his blog, Bryan is a member of the Doxology Collegium. He and his wife Keri live with their four children in Round Rock, Texas.

The Lord gave the word:
Great was the company of those that published it.

Psalm 68:11


Thank you for the invitation to reflect with you on the Gospel and new media by responding to your questions. God be praised!


When did you first become interested in a "media ministry"? And Why?

There is nothing better than the good news of Christ Jesus crucified for sinners. His death is endless life and inexhaustible joy for all who hear and believe. And His life is such that the more who hear and believe, the more joy there is. I've always desired for more to hear of Christ, to rejoice in His life and death, to trust in His promises. And, since finding the simplicity of the Gospel in our Lutheran Confessions, I've had a desire for more Christians to come to the comfort of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel.

Media has been a means to that end. If there are tools, platforms, or arenas for publishing the Gospel of peace, I've tried to bring the name of Jesus to these places. It is good to remember that sermons, books, letters, etc., are all media, and the Holy Spirit has been pleased to use these from the beginning.

When we hear "media" we mostly think of electronic media, and new media, which have their own unique characteristics, benefits, and dangers, and deserve careful thought.


Do you have a "philosophy" (or perhaps a "theology") of media use?

Regarding new media creation (YouTube, podcasting, websites, etc.), it is most important not to take it too seriously. A playful and experimental approach is best. The Lord's people need local congregations, His body and blood, the fellowship of the saints. They don't need YouTube. That's a bonus. A playful approach ensures that we don't take ourselves too seriously, and these platforms, which were created for the individual creator, respond best (in my observation) to a playful approach.

Regarding the use of media, it is good to embrace a "ministerial use" of media and technology rather than a "magisterial use." The media should serve the Lord Jesus, and our love for our neighbor. The Ten Commandments guide and govern our use of media.

Regarding technology and the life of the church, it is helpful to remember that the Word of God travels out but the sacraments gather in. The Word can be preached over a distance, written and sent in letters, published in books, posted on the internet, etc. Podcasts, online video, blogs, etc. are great forums for the teaching and preaching of the Word. On the other hand, the Lord's Supper and Baptism always call us back to a particular place with particular people. There is no online communion or virtual baptism. (This helps us resist the always present temptations of Gnosticism.)


What challenges or barriers did you encounter along the way, and how did you address and overcome them?

My congregations have not always understood the value of the work. I remember a council meeting in 2005 where a few people asked, "Do we really need a church website?" A strategic approach was to make sure the projects were not expensive, and never to neglect the face-to-face pastoral work in place of the online efforts.

Personally I fight against boredom, distraction, and consistency regarding media creation. It helps to have a partner ( Table Talk Radio, Wolfson Creative). If I have a solo project I begin with sorting out the simplest way of creating and publishing the media. I eschew the second take.

About ten months ago I dropped off of all my social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) except YouTube. This forced me to start working on this problem: "How can we communicate with people apart from social media?" This is difficult work, but there is great danger in the public square becoming private property.


What technology (hardware, software, apps, platforms, etc.) were and are instrumental in your work?

Blog/website: Wordpress and Bluehost

Email campaigns: ( Wednesday What-Not): Substack (recently switched from Mailchimp)

Self-publishing: Lulu (and Kindle Direct for a few projects, but I prefer Lulu)

Talent (graphic design, web work, editing, etc.): Upwork

Podcast: Anchor (I've used a lot of different platforms, and anchor has been very simple)

Online Studies: (Worldwide Bible Class): Zoom

For podcast recording: I have a professional mic at home and church and use an iRig 2 adapter to send the audio to my phone or computer.

For YouTube videos: I made a promise to myself early on that I would do all the work on my phone: recording, editing, publishing, etc. This is still mostly true.

Filming: Samsung Galaxy 10

Mic: Rode Lav

Editing software: Kinemaster

Thumbnails: Canva

I keep template descriptions in Evernote.

We use fancier equipment and editing software for our church services but now we outsource the editing work.


What is your current reach and impact — not only in numbers, but I expect you have some stories of individuals who have reported back to you.

We recently did an audit of the international reach of our online work. The worldwide Bible Study has participants from a dozen different countries. The YouTube channel has significant views from 49 different countries. The channel is approaching two million views with 17,500 subscribers.

It has been wonderful to hear from people around the world who have discovered the Gospel and the clarity of our Lutheran theology through online teaching.


Assuming the Spirit's continuing blessing, what are your future plans with your media ministry?

I hope to keep experimenting with different ways of teaching online. I've been puzzling over incorporating a story arc into theological teaching, and how a vlog format might be hijacked for the Gospel.

I would like to provide outlines of major theological works for free distribution, and for translation into every major language.

I'm also interested in mixing media, and I've been experimenting with publishing a book with a QR code on each page, linked to a video explanation of the text. I'm interested in doing the same with art.

This grows out of the overall effort to make orthodoxy assessable.


Anything else you think is important?

Here are a few closing thoughts:

  • It is important to have your own place (website, email list). If everything online is on other platforms, it can easily be taken away.
  • There should be two goals for all online work: 1) Christians are brought to church, and 2) Theologians are reading old theology books. I'm always working everything in these two directions. (We have a find-a-church feature to help with the first goal.)
  • The truth is joyful. The devil afflicts us with theological boredom (acadia, which Luther discusses in connection to the 3rd commandment [Large Catechism I.99]). We do not fight boredom with entertainment, but with joy, a delight in the truth and goodness of God's Word.

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Rev. Jeff Hendrix (Faith Lutheran Church, Oregon, WI) 2021-10-25 6:44:59pm
Rev. Wolfmueller,
Thank you for this. So many good thoughts. Your last line about acadia and fighting boredom is worth pondering over and over again. The blessing and curse of technology seem to be really two sides of the same coin. Technology is never neutral. Maybe I'm off in this, but it seems that adequatio is a possible flip side to acadia when it comes to technology. Technology extends our eyes to see things we never would have been able to. Our understanding becomes adequate for knowing more about the world around us, allowing us to have a proper response to the things of God. For instance, I've greatly enjoyed listening to your podcasts and videos and I always learn something. Ten years ago when I was in grad school was when I began using the Issues, Etc. podcasts that opening my eyes to the amazing beauty and order of the Divine Service and the phenomenal gifts given in Word and Sacrament. In this way, technology actually encourages awe and reverence.
On the other hand, not only does technology give, but it always takes away too. It demands more and more, and allows us to become more easily bored with the world around us that should cause us awe. I can listen to a podcast (or sermon) about the wonders of God's creation of human beings and grow in awe of my own newborn, and at the same time through the same podcast actually ignore her when she needs me.
Anyway, I've got more thinking to do on this, but again, thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Bryan Wolfmusller (St Paul Austin) 2021-10-28 6:23:08pm

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You might enjoy this video I posted yesterday reflecting further:

Judy Kuster 2021-10-31 12:42:57am
I believe that God has given the Church and its members the tools to work in new ways to go into the world to preach the Gospel to every creature. I totally admire your commitment and energy in doing all you have done and are doing with technology that now basically reaches the world. As a person who started online, developing a resource for my own professional organization using Gopher before Arpanet released the WWW to the public, an early published article co-authored with Tom was printed in February 1995 and entitled “Finding Treasures on the Internet: Gopher the GOLD!” It featured mailing lists/listservs, e-journals, gopher, FTP, WAIS, Telnet, and a short section on the new WWW with 4 resources in my professional discipline.

Over the more than over 25 years, I experienced multiple updates, changes, and disappearances of what worked for me that I relied on. I needed to find and learn new options taking a lot of time to redo and preserve my information. Sometimes there were no options unless I wanted to sell my MacIntosh and purchase a PC (before the Mac was able to use both systems). New standards have now made it impossible to open the old Floppy Discs or Zip drives. Gone is Claris works, GeoCities where people created (and lost) their free websites, Adobe Flash, Pagemaker, etc. Microsoft is known for discontinued products – Front Page (which enabled threaded discussions I used for a long time), Windows Movie Maker, Shockwave, the Magic Schoolbus, Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo groups, iTunes, and the recent change in Google bookmarks. Other sites I depended on for locating colleagues and friends have started to charge. I’ve had to deal with people (some overseas) who have plagiarized huge parts of my professional work. Twice I discovered that people whose relevant professional work I wanted to share had purchased a .com domain which when they failed to renew it, their sites later turned into porn sites I was then linking to.

I admire all the wonderful new technology you list/recommend/use and share their URLs in your presentation. I’m passing the torch as I see the work of huge teams now accomplishing more than I could ever do myself, especially now at my age, comfort level with new technology, and the amount of work involved. Keep on keeping on. You’ve got many years left and will probably have frustrations that I feel now with all the work involved to keep up with technology/software as it lives for a while and often disappears or is replaced with new technology the audience expects. May God continue to bless your work with new ideas and continued energy to keep on for a long time.
Bryan Wolfmueller 2021-11-08 10:38:39pm

You were the leading edge! Thank you for your pioneering work. May the Lord continue to spread His word through the internet.

Anastasia Goelzer (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2021-11-02 2:05:21am
The point made regarding sermons, books, and letters also being forms of media is an important one. The Church has had to adapt to worldly advances since the beginning of time. Online and social media is a new media that congregations can take advantage of to spread the work of Christ. Although there are dangers to be aware of, it is a great opportunity to connect with people from all around the world and teach them the saving Gospel message. I love your point on utilizing technology to direct people to the church. Online sermons and podcasts are not a supplement for fellowship or the sacraments. In the age of Covid, many people have realized how easy it is to simply watch recorded sermons instead of returning to in-person worship. I think that it has been difficult for churches to find that balance when it comes to new technology and media in their congregations.
Bryan Wolfmueller 2021-11-08 10:56:46pm

I think you are right, the balance has been tricky.

I think the congregations who have handled this the best have been the ones who thought of themselves as a family. A family will celebrate a birthday party over zoom or through a window if they have to, but as soon as they can they will be back in the same room with one another. Our congregations should be the same way. A phone call (or YouTube video) will suffice until we can finally be back to face to face.

Hope Sulzle (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-02 11:14:36pm
Pastor Wolfmueller,

Your article allowed me to think of ways how my own church uses media to send the Gospel to members of our congregation. It was neat to hear how you, as a church leader, use different mediums to reach out to people across the world.

Please allow me to ask a few questions that I thought of as I was reading. These are also questions and thoughts that I have that apply to my own church as well. Technology and media have been used a lot during the past two years. When our country was “shut down” due to Covid, churches streamed their services and members watched from their own couches. In this case, the media was a good way to reach out to God’s lambs. But now I think some people are using that media and online services, like your bible class, podcasts, or YouTube videos, as an excuse to stay home and not come to church. What do you think of this? And how do you go about simply encouraging members to come back to church? I think it’s definitely a difficult topic to discuss and bring up to those members. It’s a challenge for my church, at least, to find that middle ground of worshipping in-person versus worshipping via media and technology. I don’t think we will go back to not streaming our services or bible classes because it is a benefit to some, maybe those who are sick or away from home for the weekend. But fellowship and physically coming to church are some of the best ways to worship with your brothers and sisters. What are your views on this topic?

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your experiences and how you use the media to share Jesus with your church members and the body of believers across the globe.

Bryan Wolfmueller 2021-11-08 10:42:28pm

Great questions. I have a two-fold goal of all electronic (disembodied) media: reading old theology and taking the Lord's Supper. All our online work should direct people to the real and face-to-face joys of being n the Lord's house and receiving His gifts with His people.

I've been experimenting with guided home services which get the people staying home more involved in the service (but I haven't been able to keep up the production schedule for these videos, too much is happening in the church building)!

A few people have recently asked me what I think about congregations that are shutting down their live stream. I'm for that. We need to be back at church, there is no substitute for the gathering of the saints.

I hope this helps.

Rev. Luke Ulrich (Mt. Olive Lutheran, Mankato, MN ) 2021-11-03 2:39:34pm
Rev. Wolfmueller,
I think you are making a point in the 2nd paragraph above, that you see a connection between Virtual Church/Online Services and Gnosticism. Could you comment more on that? OR have you fleshed that out in greater detail anywhere else (a video or podcast, etc.)? Or know anyone else who has? I think this would be a helpful way to address this struggle that many pastors and churches are having as we are seeking to get our people back, encouraging people to gather together in person around Word and Sacraments. I'm afraid some people are giving into the idea that virtual church is a viable, acceptable alternative--when in reality, it might be just a rehashed, repackaged heresy that Satan is trying to feed us.
Really appreciate all your work--You are a blessing to many people! Thanks for taking the time to contribute to this Gospel Outreach with Media Conference! God be praised!
Bryan Wolfmueller 2021-11-08 10:48:54pm

Thanks for the comments and question.

From Luther (Smalcald III.VIII) we know that every heresy is enthusiasm (which is another word for gnosticism).

I've touched on this topic here:

Home communion:

Cancelling church:

I hope these help. Thanks!
Dan Buth (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-04 7:08:47pm
Pastor Wolfmueller,

Being a part of Gen Z, I have almost grown up with social media. I have realized the dangers of it but I have also realized the good things that it has to offer. I thought it was really interesting when you talked about your social media “purge” as that is something that I want to do sometime.

However, I do have a question for you. How do you connect with your members in your ministry since you don’t do it through the main social networks except through Youtube? Have you found it harder or easier to connect with your members?

Thank you for the time and effort that you put into this presentation. It was informative and helped me see how to use media to serve Christ.
Bryan Wolfmueller 2021-11-08 10:51:08pm

Harder, but worth it. I'm still trying to sort out the best way to communcate, but I'm leaning towards the channels that I "own": website, email distribution list, etc.

I *think* the social media helped me grow the audience, but I've got nothing to compare it with.

I'm still working on this. "COMMUNICATE THE HARD WAY" is one of my 2021 goals.

Micah Schibbelhut (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 3:46:00pm
Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller,

Thank you for the work you do in your home church and for your contribution to the Christ in Media Conference. Thank you also for detailing your steps to a “media ministry.” This information should be helpful to many churches that are either wary or unsure of where to start. I myself am not the biggest fan of social media, so I can understand how some congregations may not want to delve into the media sector.

I have one question that I hope you have some thoughts about: It's easy enough to reach large audiences with a simple slogan such as “Jesus loves you,” but do you have any guidance about teaching the truth more comprehensively while still maintaining audience attention? We do not fight boredom with entertainment, but then how can we use media to engage people with the Gospel?

Thanks once more for sharing your experience in navigating the complex world of mass media. God bless your work!
Bryan Wolfmueller 2021-11-08 10:54:08pm

Great question. I don't know the answer.

Here is how I think about the problem. When I have something that I want to communicate, I wonder, first, "What is the best way to say this?" Then: "Who should hear this? How can they hear it?" Then: "What's the best way to teach this?" Writing, blog, article, book, audio podcast, video, Sunday Schoo, sermon, personal conversation, phone call, etc. Then: do it.

So far it has worked.