Following for Jesus
Mar 21, 2019 12:43PM
By John Shallenberger
Keenan Clark is using social media to follow Jesus’ command. The 23-year-old San Angelo native is the Young Adults Pastor at Celebration Church and is fully utilizing the impact of his social media following to travel the globe to spread the gospel message. “All of these doors have opened up because I have a fairly significant following on Instagram. Content gets shared and people invite me to speak. One of the catalysts for my traveling was a sermon clip that was seen by 120,000 people,” said Clark.
@keenanclark_ has more than 42,000 followers. “We’re called to take ground for the kingdom. The number of followers doesn’t give me value or make me better than anyone else. Every follower represents a person that Jesus died to save, so if they happen to care about something I post or do, it’s a privilege. I try to not take myself too seriously, but I do take the opportunity seriously. Not everyone is going to listen to you but when they do, it’s best to leave them better than you found them.”
I conjured up. It was very strange but very real.”
It’s a journey that started years earlier when Clark was a college student at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas taking photos with his phone. “As a way to explore, I would run around town taking pictures of artsy looking landscape, people and even coffee. I would post that to Instagram and then go to InstaMeets. That’s where a bunch of people get together, meet in a coffee shop, exchange information, hit the town, take pictures together and tag each other. It’s basically relationship and content creation at the same time.”
Clark says the Israel Collective,Christians United for Israel, funded the trip for twenty-eight social media influencers whose collective following exceeds millions. “Someone in my field doesn’t typically get to go on a trip like this. It was an eclectic group. There were models, photographers, videographers, business people, and celebrities.” Jase, Missy, Reed, Cole and Mia Robertson from the Duck Dynasty reality-tv show were also aboard the tour bus. “As faithful to the scripture and faith as the Robertsons were on television, they are even more so in person. Jase was constantly reading his Bible on the bus and answering questions about scripture. At one point, Missy got on the microphone on the bus and wanted to make sure everyone knew Jesus. They really don’t want anyone to miss out on knowing and having a relationship with Jesus,” said Clark. “At one time, Duck Dynasty was the biggest show on TV, but they don’t carry themselves like that at all. They are the most down to earth people that you forget you are hanging out with celebrities. Getting to know them and develop a relationship with them was a privilege.”
The Duck Dynasty crew, Clark and the other social media influencers met in New York City where they boarded a plane for the ten-hour flight to Tel Aviv. “My first thought was it looks like West Texas but then as we traveled more,
During the eight days, Clark was able to travel throughout the entire country and experience sites of scriptural significance. “We had a tour guide that explained everything. We saw ancient aqueducts and Mount Carmel where Elijah faced the prophets of Baal. We went to Capernaum where there is still a synagogue standing that dates to the time of Jesus.
For Clark, the experience has given him new insight and understanding. “Before I would read my Bible but not really understand where things were. In my head traveling from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem didn’t seem like a far journey. I learned it’s a three-hour drive, so in Biblical times that would’ve been on foot or the backs of donkeys, which are no small feats.”
Sharing that diverse perspective and developing positive content with others was the goal of the trip. It’s an experience that Clark is sharing not only at his home church in San Angelo but through his speaking engagements across the globe and most recently on a trip to Dubai and Uganda. “People hit me up on Instagram and say I want to go to San Angelo because of Celebration Church or they say they’ve never heard of San Angelo but want to go.”