Is God on Tiktok?

Sep 7, 2023 | Stories from the Diocese

The Very Rev. Rod Gordon was celebrating his 30th year in ordained ministry when he took a big leap. He decided to offer weekly prayers on TikTok. 

At first blush, the rapid fire, entertainment video platform with more than one billion users might seem like an odd venue for soft spoken, peaceful prayers, but maybe that’s exactly what’s causing its 18- to 34-year-old audience to pause their scrolling thumbs and listen for a while. Who IS this soft-spoken priest and what is he doing here? What’s his angle, his shtick, his product?

Father Gordon, rector of St. Peter’s in Oak Grove, was inspired to venture into this unfamiliar territory when he attended a workshop on digital ministry for evangelism at The Episcopal Church’s It’s All about Love Festival in Baltimore this summer.

Rod’s parish, St. Peter’s, is located on the Northern Neck in a relatively rural area. His TikTok, @peace.prayershas enabled him to expand his ministry to larger audiences while serving in a small parish.

Here’s what he has to say about his early experience with praying on Tik Tok.

What purpose do you hope to serve in this unusual venue for prayers?

I believe that we all have a desire to be loved genuinely (agape anupokritos), to be respected, to be heard, to be trusted, to be supported by a community of faith that rejoices with us, weeps with us, cares for us, prays for and with us.  These prayer videos are less than one minute in length.  In that brief moment, I hope that this venue will reach people who are searching for God, searching for hope, searching for God’s grace and unconditional love.

What kind of reaction have you had? What have people said to you about it?

The reactions and responses that I have received have been very positive and affirming that this ministry is welcomed and needed.  Every Sunday, I post one video offering a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.  My first post was Sunday, July 16th, It reached 65 people. On July 30, I posted “A Prayer for Guidance,” that reached 1,611 people on that day! 

Most of the reactions on Tik Tok are a flowing stream of “Amens” and emojis – hearts, praying hands, crosses.  Some respond with comments, such as: “Thank you, I needed this prayer,” and, “Thank you, I need all your blessings.” 

How has it enhanced your personal ministry?

In December 2022, I celebrated my 30th anniversary of priesthood.  It was a milestone, yes, and also a catalyst for me.  It was time for personal renewal and change.  I asked myself, “What will my next 30 years of ministry look like?”  The Prophet Isaiah responded with these ancient words: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-9 NRSV This has become my mantra as I remain open to the Holy Spirit in guiding and revealing new, innovative, creative “things” to me.  I am excited about this new season of renewal and revival.