How does a guy living in a small town in Idaho, USA reach 47 million people with the gospel in a year? Watch this interview with pastor and TikTok star Craig Brown, who uses his influence to inspire people to read and memorize the Bible.
Follow along with all the Bible Memory Goal YouTube videos!
Resources Mentioned in the Interview
If you want to learn more about Craig Brown and his online ministry, make sure to follow him across the following platforms:
- Youtube: This is where you can find his Bible Times, Memorization Times, and podcasts.
- TikTok (@acraigbrown): This is his most followed platform, it also has his Bible Times as well as other home videos.
- Instagram: Similar to the other platforms, he also posts his Bible Times and podcast clips here.
- Podcast: This is a Christian podcast that he co-hosts with Daniel Hunt.
- Website: This is the official website of Craig Brown’s ministry.
Memorize What Matters Podcast
Interview Transcript: Craig Brown
Josh: In this week’s interview with Craig, we talk about a lot of different things including what it looks like in this new era of digital information to reach people with the Gospel anywhere in the world from your home, from your computer, or your phone, and what it looks like to be able to inspire people to read the bible or in his case memorize different portions of the Bible which is something he loves to do.
So let’s dive into this interview.
You know I was watching a video just earlier today from the Heart of the City Church which I believe you’re an elder, where they were sending you out as what they’re terming a “Digital Missionary.” This is something that i’ve never heard before and i’m just going to read a couple of stats here just because there may be people who are watching this or listening to this right now that don’t know this. But in 2021, you had over 1.3, actually I think right now it’s up to 1.4 million followers across platforms like Instagram, Youtube, Tiktok, and a podcast that you have. You also had 47 million views in 2021.
When you hear these numbers, what does that make you feel?
Craig Brown: You know it’s crazy. Nobody could have predicted this and I didn’t set out for that. I think though for me it’s like, when i really gave my life to Jesus, and then he really got a hold of my heart, and called me into the ministry. From the very beginning before social media was even a thing, kust like every pastor and missionary throughout history, the idea is influence. We go on the mission field to influence a people group or we start work in a church to influence people, that people would be influenced to Christ, and so that’s always been my desire. And then i just assume influence more rather than less. Not that smaller numbers or bigger numbers necessarily mean anything but I want to influence as many people as possible.
When I got into the digital space, it wasn’t like i was thinking i was going to be some social media celebrity or something. It actually started of just me being obedient to God, because i really felt like He said just help people read the Bible and do it everyday.
And so it didn’t start on TikTok, it started on YouTube, and it was a challenge from the Lord to post one video a day, every single day in 2020. So that’s what I did. And the second thing that was unique about it is He said I don’t care if more than one person watches, I want you to do it everyday. And normally, I’m the type of person that’s like curse fig tree. Like if a ministry is not bearing fruit, like cut it down, just do something else.
But I just knew. It’s probably the first time in my ministry life where I really knew. Keep doing this no matter what even if you think there’s no fruit. After 13 months I had a million followers, and yeah coming to the end of 2021, I never thought that I would step off the staff of the church. Never.
But coming to the end of 2021, we’re looking at the numbers and really honestly, more than just the big numbers, it’s the questions that are coming in. It’s the real relational engagement that people are engaging with that sort of just led us to say I didn’t do this, I couldn’t do this, Jesus you did this, so what do you expect for me? Like if you were sitting here right in front of me and I said what do you want me to do with this? I can’t respond to 10,000, what do you want? And we kind of just started to feel like He was saying, “Hey what would it look like if you did what you’re most gifted to do? Because the local church is important, but to do but you’re most called to do in the local church and then hand over the other things to other upcoming leaders and focus more on this.”
So yeah, when you think about 47 million views, it’s humbling, it’s exciting. I’m talking a lot so let me just say one more thing.
Josh: Go for it.
Craig Brown: I don’t know if I ever said this on a podcast yet but I remember when I was in college and between my junior and senior year, I did 40 days of solitude. Because I figured I’d never be able to do that again in my life after I got married and all that. And you know, Moses did it, Jesus did it, so I went in the woods alone and just praying that God would use me and all that. I remember my prayer was, “Lord, make me the next Billy Graham.” And then you get to a certain age and you’re like, “Well, that’s not happening.” And so there’s like this point where I’m like, “Ok, I’m not the next Billy Graham.”
And I think in my research, I’m pretty sure this is true, but I think he preach to about 215 million people, either live or on TV which in his era is insane. Of course Billy Graham is in a league of his own, but what’s crazy about that is I had the thought this last year, and I thought oh my goodness, it is actually potentially possible that some nobody from North Idaho, can actually speak to 215 million people because of these crazy pieces of technology that you couldn’t have even imagined years ago.
And so we’re living in a time that’s unlike any other, the darkness is great for sure, but the opportunity to reach people all over the globe is insane. I have 150,000 followers in the Philippines. It’s like in what universe could somebody from North Idaho ever have 150,000 people from the Philippines that are caring what they’re saying. So yeah, it’s been fun.
Josh: Wow, it’s unbelievable. Yeah, that is so crazy. I do think it’s fascinating that we do live in a world where that kind of stuff is possible, right? Where something you make in your office or your house, the Lord can use the passions and the gifts That he’s given you and hopefully me as well in order to inspire, encourage, and even be like I think I saw this that you said that there were 145 commitments to Jesus through the stuff that you’ve done in 2021, did I read that stat right?
Craig Brown: Yeah. Yeah, what’s crazy is actually 115 of those happened on Good Friday.
Josh: Oh, wow. Wow.
Craig Brown: God is reaching people. And i think especially in those ways, it’s people that aren’t necessarily in first world countries. I led a girl in Zambia to the Lord through Instagram dms like a month ago, and I was trying to send people next steps if I can. It’s like read the Bible, pray, get involved in a local faith community, give tithes to that faith community, serve in a church, you know stuff like these. And she’s like there’s no church, there’s no churches here what should I do? And it’s like this is what we’re running into.
Here in America, it’s like dude there’s churches just go find one. You know what I mean? But there’s people all over the planet right now that have cell phones with internet and some of them don’t even have running water in their house or electricity, but they have these cell phones and they’re connected globally. And then there’s people that just don’t have a church down the street to go. So the opportunities right now are vast to reach people.
Josh: Yeah, that is so cool. From what I’ve seen, you do a lot of different types of videos, your YouTube channel I think it’s called Bible time, and it’s almost like you’re morning reading. Like you’re not preaching, you’re just reading along, and kind of talking through what you’re thinking. And then you do some where you’re actually doing and memorizing, I think you call it memorization time. And you’re going through and you’re memorizing some of those verses. Explain to me your thought process, like what are you trying to accomplish by doing that, and then where does Bible memory fit in your personal life?
Craig Brown: Yeah, what I was describing earlier, how this whole thing started was the YouTube thing. And the YouTube thing specifically, was a daily devotional Bible reading. And I called it Bible time because at the time, it seemed like the natural term would be Bible study. But I knew that I wasn’t really doing a Bible study.
The whole reason that started was because I get up in the morning and I try to read the Bible everyday and meet with God and spend time with God. And so me and my wife will travel with this other couple, they’re some of our best friends and usually once a year, we’ll travel together. And in the morning I get up with my Bible and my pen and I read, underline, squiggly, circle, box, arrow, all that. And our friend was like, I wish I could sit next to you every morning when you read your Bible because I just don’t know why you underline, why you squiggly. And then she said something like us normal people don’t always know how to just read the Bible.
Then I started to realize that there are just thousands of believers that the only time that they get the Word is by listening to a sermon once a week. So I knew if I did this daily thing, people would see how I did it and that hopefully, they wouldn’t need the videos anymore and they just would start doing it on their own. So yeah, the Bible time stuff on YouTube isn’t really teaching per se, it’s just me doing my devotional.
I did a lot more memorization in college. I started memorizing when I was a senior in high school and that was when I actually started following Jesus. I called myself a Christian my whole life but it wasn’t until right before my senior year that I actually started following Jesus, got baptized, really repented, and followed Him.
And then I was discipled by a young life leader and he had a start memorizing, and it was the first time I ever did that and he gave me these little cards, and it was cool because you actually learn something. And then I did more in college and then I remember in my freshman dorm, there was this challenge to memorize all Philippians, so I did that with a couple guys, the whole book of Philippians.
And then I got older and I kind of got away from it a little bit. I still had a lot of it in the bank from those earlier days and then I know a lot of the Bible, like generally what it says because i’ve been reading ir for half my life now and studying it. But i didn’t continue diligently memorizing as much and then the end of 2020, I just got inspired again and specifically by this one gentleman here in our region. He’s a very successful businessman, banker, all these, and he was talking all about success. He’s like you’re probably thinking that I’m talking about a different kind of success than what I’m actually talking about. He says 13 years ago, I started memorizing the Bible every single day. And that’s what’s led to my success because Joshua 18 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
And so I was like, yeah man! He re-lit the fire in me and I preached a sermon on memorization and challenged the church to do it and then I was like I should probably do it if I’m challenging everybody. So I got a little group of people together and I was also spurred on by David Platt’s sermon.
Craig Brown: Did you see this one? Where he just started 30 seconds and then the whole sermon is just him quoting Romans 1 through 8. I was like, let’s do it. I started memorizing Romans 1-8 January 1st 2021 with a group of eight people. By the time we got done, there was three of us. And we all barely finished and I don’t have it all down perfect.
So what happened in that season to wrap up your question, I remembered back in college this tool was the best tool for me. Now I know that there’s different techniques but for me, it made my memorization a hundred times faster, which is a note card writing the verse on one side, flipping it over, and writing just the first letter of each word on the backside. I assume a lot of your audience has heard of this. If they haven’t, you should try it.
For me the one letter thing is almost like you have all the information and then you have like 50 percent, but it’s like enough information where it’s like a hintu, but then your brain builds that synapse. And then you hide it and it’s like dude it goes so quick and then it’s exciting. So that’s what I did when I preached the sermon, I literally had the whole church memorize a verse together, Psalm 1 through 3. And I was like look you guys, we spent five minutes doing that, and you guys all memorized it. Some of you probably would have walked in today saying, “Oh, I can’t memorize, my memory is bad,” and we just did it together. So just try it.
Anyway, I looked all over for a digital tool of that flashcard, couldn’t find one. My brother makes websites and I was literally like dude build me a website. He built me this cheapest little website, but it was just not that good. I was literally about ready to like pay somebody to make it, and I found these guys called the VerseLocker.
Have you heard of the VerseLocker?
Josh: Isn’t that Scripture Memory Fellowship? Yeah.
Craig Brown: Yeah. So looking back, I’m like man I wonder if Scripture Memory Fellowship is who the cards were from back in high school because I know they do the little cards with the little pouch you chould put the cards in and that’s what I had in high school so it might have been from them. Anyway, so I reached out to them and I was like you guys, listen, I already want to promote you for what you do and they’re like yeah, so we did this little thing together.
I just want people memorizing the Bible and if I can promote your company and this app then Hallelujah and we did a little deal together. So that’s what the memorization time video were from. I’m hoping that people would hide the word of God in their hearts because it’s just invaluable to know it.
Josh: Yeah. You know what I’m really taking away part of what you’re saying there because it’s true of me and like so many people have seen that David Platt video. I’m pretty sure John Piper’s done something very similar to that. And that there’s this feeling that I get where I feel like memorization’s a very personal thing, like this thing that I’m supposed to just do quietly on my own, and it feels weird to sometimes even have this YouTube channel or this community where I’m talking about it all the time.
And yet it’s because of this gentleman that’s the businessman you’re talking about, he inspired you to get back into it. Like it takes people who are willing to be vocal about what they find important to inspire other people to do it as well. And that’s what I’m even seeing from you, what you get to do on the platforms that you’re on. Like it is your face and to me there’s something weird about constantly having my face on something and yet it is the ability to be able to inspire people by just showing them this is what i believe, so much so that I’m willing to put myself out there and let you know that I think this is really important. I love that.
So for you, the primary method is these cards or I guess now maybe even the digitized version with VerseLocker. Is it really just a lot of repetition or how exactly do you go about working through some of these verses as you’ve memorized them.
Craig Brown: So just practically speaking like what do I do?
Josh: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Craig Brown: So for me, memorizing one verse or a couple verses is relatively easy. If I use the app, my brain works pretty quickly to just read it a few times and then do the first letter thing and then get it down. When I started memorizing Romans 1-8, it was like chapter one was cool, that’s easy. But then you start adding chapter on chapter and Paul’s like saying some of the same stuff and then it’s long, and it’s deep. So it just got to be difficult, and I’m getting older now.
I also downloaded this other app, it’s called Jam Looper or something. It’s like an instrument app. It’s like an app that guys would get a guitar and play a loop. Like play a thing and it’ll hit it and then it’ll keep going while they play something else. I got it because in the morning, I would read the passages I’m supposed to memorize for the day and I would read it into the looper.
Because even with the memo app on the iPhone, you got to hit start again once the recording gets over. I just wanted to heart it over and over and I wanted to hear myself saying it in my tone, in my inflection, the rate that I would probably quote it in. So I would read the verses of the day and then I put that loop on, and my whole drive to work, I would hear myself say that verse. Just over and over and over again. So I combined those two things. Those were my two main ways of memorizing – the first letter thing either on a note card or on the VerseLocker app and the loop.
The group that I was doing it with was also a big part of it too. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I would say that’s a huge part of it. If I literally just said to myself, I’m gonna memorize Romans 1-8 just alone, I don’t think I would have made it as far as I did. But we had this group. Do yu know what Marco Polo is?
Josh: Yes, the app.
Craig Brown: Yeah, it’s basically like a video messaging app.And so, we had a deal with eachother. Whatever chapter you’re in, you had to do that chapter from verse 1 down to whatever verse we were on, before midnight on Sunday on Marco Polo. So having that accountability of people doing it with you, and having that what we call a sound off. So if I’m supposed to be through verse 18 and chapter 5, I don’t have to do all chapters 1-4. But I have to do chapter 5 verses 1-18 this Sunday. But then like once a month, we would do everything up to wherever we are in the book.
And so yeah, I guess I would say that that’s a huge part. If you’re memorizing alone, you should do it and it’s cool. But if you could find some people that want to do it with you, like your community, I’m sure that you guys have a community going on where people challenge each other and you know you’re not doing something alone, it just helps a ton.
Josh: It absolutely does, I think it’s just that level of accountability. For you guys, when you did that with the Marco Polo app, if you hadn’t finished up to a point like you just I guess do whatever you could, how did that work? Or was the level of accountability that high?
Craig Brown: Yeah, it was good to have it feel pretty high. But there were times when you know, you didin’t have it all and so occasionally, we’d each like look down at our Bible or something and be like yeah, you know. And then just keep going, nobody’s throwing stones at each other or anything.
Josh: Exactly, yeah.
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