Gavin Ortlund, the senior pastor of Ojai’s First Baptist Church with a membership of 100, has revealed his intention to resign from pastoral duties in order to dedicate himself entirely to his YouTube channel, Truth Unites, for full-time ministry.
Ortlund, who has gained significant popularity on YouTube with over 3.6 million views and more than 40,000 subscribers, believes that this platform offers a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience and address the challenges of declining religious engagement in the United States.
In a recent YouTube announcement, Ortlund expressed his excitement about the potential for ministry on the video-sharing platform. He emphasized the incredible opportunities available through YouTube and his desire to utilize this medium to connect with those who have drifted away from traditional church settings.
Ortlund highlighted the ongoing decline in religious participation in the United States, with around 40 million people having stopped attending church, and over 30% of the population having no religious affiliation, particularly among the younger generation. His goal with Truth Unites is to reconnect with individuals who have left the Church and to provide theological depth that can strengthen their faith.
Over the years, Ortlund’s passion for addressing this situation has grown, focusing on recentering, reconstruction, revitalization, and restabilizing the faith of those who have drifted away. He holds a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary, which bolsters his ability to engage in theological discussions and provide guidance to his viewers.
To pursue his online ministry more effectively, Ortlund and his family, including his wife and five children, will relocate to Tennessee. There, his ministry will fall under the umbrella of Renewal Ministries, which is led by his parents. He will also serve as a resident theologian at Emmanuel Church in the Nashville area.
Ortlund mentioned that the past three years of managing Truth Unites alongside his pastoral duties have become increasingly challenging. The demands of his responsibilities, including the arrival of two additional children, have contributed to this decision. By leaving his pastorate, he aims to streamline his focus and dedicate more time to writing and accepting speaking engagements related to his online ministry.
Ortlund expressed his desire to write a book on the sacraments and delve into existentialism’s interaction with modern culture, particularly in the context of apologetics. He currently has to decline the majority of speaking requests due to his busy schedule, and he hopes that the change will allow him to accept more of these opportunities.
The central mission of Truth Unites is to provide gospel assurance through theological depth, and Ortlund is eager to continue answering questions, addressing issues, and meeting the needs of his audience through his online platform.
According to a spokesperson from First Baptist Church of Ojai, Ortlund is expected to continue his role at the church until mid-December. At present, there is no replacement identified for his position. Although the church members are saddened by his departure, many of them already benefit from Ortlund’s YouTube videos and will continue to engage with his ministry through this digital medium.
Gavin Ortlund’s decision to transition from being a senior pastor to full-time ministry through his YouTube channel, Truth Unites, represents his commitment to reaching a broader audience and addressing the challenges of religious decline in the United States. His theological depth and passion for helping those who have left the Church are central to his mission.
This move will enable him to focus more on writing, speaking engagements, and the growth of his online ministry while continuing to serve the needs of his viewers.