Yesterday I started rolling out on the YouTube channel a brand new version of Stay Free: Why Society Can't Survive Without God.
Those who have been following this ministry from the start will know that Stay Free was our second project and I've had a few emails recently asking why it's been re-made. To explain why, I really need to tell the story of our whole year, and since I always do an end-of-year Vision Report anyway, I thought I'd combine the two!
The Year Gone By - 2016
Around this time last year, when I was praying about what 2016 should look like for The Fuel Project, the phrase I kept getting was 'Array/Clothe The Truth In Beauty'. I felt strongly that this should be a year when a lot of time and energy was spent, not just on telling the truth, but on improving the way it was presented.
I'd already started writing The Long Way Home at the turn of the year and it was published in the Spring. Normally, I'm on a treadmill of books and videos, but instead of jumping straight onto the next project, I decided to spend the Spring and early Summer learning more about the craft of videography and photography. A lot of investment was also made around this time. New lighting, studio screens, tripod, camera lenses, and a new laptop to replace a failing Toshiba that finally went kaput. A new website was created. We cleaned up our admin. We (secretly) launched a store to slowly fill with evangelism materials. We gained a new partnership that allowed us to offer digital downloads of our videos too. We even had a try at learning animation! Basically, a whole lot of structural, behind-the-scenes work was put in to give Fuel a solid footing for the coming years.
By mid-Summer, we were feeling ambitious and ready to apply some of these newfound skills to our very first feature-length documentary film - Apocalypse When. As many of you will know, we wanted to include street interviews from around the world, but to literally travel to every continent with a camera and do them ourselves would have been much too expensive for us. Rather than being defeated by those financial limitations however, we came up with the idea that we could ask the Fuel community to help out instead. After all, everyone has a camera these days, and we have subscribers in every corner of the world. Plus it just seemed like an exciting idea to make it a collaboration, because that's at the heart of what I want Fuel to be. I want it to be a movement where the worldwide church community is inspired to get involved in God's work.
While we waited for people to hit the streets and gather footage, I knew I'd have a small window of time to spare, so I decided to use that time to revisit Stay Free. I love Stay Free. I think it's a hugely important series. But I've always felt like I could have presented it better. To be honest, this is partly because I struggle with perfectionism that tells me nothing I've ever done is good enough! But basically, if there's one series I wanted to beautify above the rest, it was Stay Free.
I edited the book in the Summer, the cover was re-designed, and I subsequently spent early Autumn completely re-making the videos from the ground up. They're still not perfect but with the resources and skills we have at this point, I think it's a big and worthwhile improvement on the original. (It even includes some early attempts at animation!)
Stay Free is the first series to benefit from many of our other structural improvements too. For example, you can now get Stay Free apparel on our store. And this is the very series we can offer as a digital download, meaning if you don't want to wait for the whole 43-part series to roll out on YouTube, you can go ahead and get it all right now.
So that explains why there's a new version of Stay Free. Let me now quickly finish this up with what else is going on right now and in 2017.
The Year Ahead - 2017
Immediately after finishing the Stay Free videos, I wrote The War On Truth. I was desperate to get that out in light of world events and I hope it gives insight into what's happening. It was launched on Monday December 5th, and you can go pick up a copy straight away. The early part of 2017 will now be devoted to turning it into a video series, hopefully ready to roll out in the Spring. Again, the investment and learning continues so I hope it'll be the best series yet.
In the past couple of weeks, we've also launched a Patreon page, allowing you to support us from as little as $2 a month. There are a lot of reasons why this is very important for us. Having regular support would give us stability to keep doing what we do. Currently, we have no idea how many books or DVDs we'll sell from month-to-month so there's no guarantee of income, which makes it difficult to plan ahead. Having patrons gives us some welcome security and confidence to go ahead with our vision. It would also release us from financial constraints that currently hold us back and allow us to move to new levels - both in terms of what we can do and how quickly we can do it. Ideally, it would eventually mean being able to grow the permanent team. As you can imagine, it gets tiring for one person to shoulder the majority of the writing, designing, social media updates, video recording, editing, audio mixing, narration, photography, website updates, blogs, emails, admin, Fuel network management, counselling, teaching, and all the rest. So a huge thank you to everyone who has come on board so far.
Looking further ahead, there are a few new ideas we want to launch in 2017. As well as Stay Free and The War On Truth videos, there are, as always, 6 or 7 more series queued up behind that. There's the film. We're hoping to start doing regular 'Fuel News' videos to offer some Christian insight on current events as they happen. There will hopefully be more 'Answers' videos too. Next year feels like it could be a big year.
In the meantime, thanks for all your support in 2016. I really can't describe how appreciated you are. Special thanks to all those who helped with the work this year (you know who you are!) I hope you all have a cosy, sparkly, warm holiday period celebrating our Saviour with friends and family and although it's way too early for this, I hope you all have a very, very Happy New Year!