We love TED Talks for their digestible nature and diverse perspectives. Although TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design,” sometimes the topic of faith emerges. Here’s eight great TED Talks from Christians sharing “ideas worth spreading.”
1. Bono | The good news on poverty (Yes, there’s good news)
Naturally, we had to start the list with Bono! This Irish rock legend is known for so much more than his amazing music—he speaks articulately about his Christian faith and he’s radically committed to humanitarian efforts. In this talk, Bono focuses on the inherent equality of all humans, regardless of where they’re born. He pulls examples from the Bible, showing God’s broad love for the impoverished and then creates a compelling case for why we need to care about equality and global poverty today.
2. Nick Vujicic | Overcoming hopelessness
We’re blown away by the testimony of Nick Vujicic. The Australian evangelist and author was born without any limbs and felt great hopelessness as a child due to his disability. “At age 8, I thought that I should commit suicide. Why? Because I didn’t have hope.” Thankfully, faith in Christ helped him discover hope for a future. Although he prayed often to miraculously grow limbs, God ended up giving Vujicic a different miracle. “If God doesn’t change my circumstances, he’s going to use my life to be a miracle for someone else. When you don’t get a miracle, you can still be a miracle for someone else.”
3. Olivia Pierce | Why Christianity is perceived as a white man’s religion
In this talk, Olivia Pierce speaks openly about why her faith is so important to her. However, she also explores the problems with white-washing Christianity with excessive Caucasian imagery. “As a Christian and an African-American, I’ve been asked many times why I associate myself with the white man’s religion.” Pierce explores the negative impact of the White Savior complex many missionaries carry in their evangelism and offers practical ideas for increasing racial inclusivity within the church.
4. Tom Honey | How could God have allowed the tsunami?
In this vintage TED talk from 2005 we hear from Tom Honey who works as a Vicar for the Church of England. He grapples with the devastating South Asian tsunami of 2004 which took the lives of over a quarter-million people. Honey opens the talk reflecting on how the tsunami’s loss was felt in his congregation. “Here we are, my church in Oxford, semi-detached from events that happened a long way away, but with our faith bruised. And we want an explanation from God.”
Throughout this video, Honey offers various Christian theological perspectives on how to answer this question. This talk may leave you with more questions than answers, but it’s a powerful conversation about how to reckon our faith with suffering.
5. Caitlin Crosby | Love is the Key
Caitlin Crosby is the founder of The Giving Keys, which is a jewelry company working to provide jobs to people transitioning out of homelessness. In this TED Talk, she explains that her vision for The Giving Keys took a long time to emerge; and it started from a prayer of lament.
“I was walking down Hollywood Blvd, leaving church…and I was crying ‘what is the meaning of life? What is the point of all this?’…[then] I saw this couple. They were sitting under an umbrella, they were sitting in the rain and they were holding this sign that said ‘ugly, broke and hungry.’” God answered Crosby’s prayer with a powerful opportunity to make new friends. Through that friendship, Crosby became a frontline advocate to help LA’s homeless community.
4. Kate Bowler | ‘Everything happens for a reason’—and other lies I loved
Kate Bowler is a young theologian who studies various Christian denominations and their worldviews on suffering. However, at 35, Bowler found herself thrust into the throes of her own suffering when she was diagnosed with cancer. In this talk, she vulnerably speaks about hurtful ways Christians often try to dismiss pain. Through this turmoil, she discovered a new and deeper faith. “In a time in which I should have felt abandoned by God, I was not reduced to ashes. I felt like I was floating, floating on the love and prayers of all those who hummed around me like worker bees, bringing me notes and socks and flowers and quilts embroidered with words of encouragement.”
5. Brother David Steindl Rast | Want to be happy? Be grateful
Brother David Steindl Rast is a Benedictine monk and is fascinated with the intersection of faith and science. In this talk, he illuminates the transformative spiritual power of gratitude. “We experience something that’s valuable to us. Something is given to us that’s valuable to us. And it’s really given…when these two things come together—something that’s really valuable to me and I realize it’s freely given—then gratefulness spontaneously rises in my heart, happiness spontaneously rises in my heart.”
When we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice, it’s easy to see that this was freely given and incredibly valuable. If we choose to be grateful for this sacrifice, then we can discover happiness.
8. Lecrae | Heroes and villains: Is hip-hop a cancer or a cure?
We love Lecrae’s talents as a Christian hip-hop artist. However, in this TED Talk he proves that he’s also a powerful speaker. He explores the underlying reasons why mainstream hip-hop music can be so vulgar. He also explores how a society defines its heroes and villains. “For example, in the 1700s, society agreed on legalized slavery. Anyone who opposed that was looked upon as a villain. It wasn’t until after society agreed on the outlawing of slavery, that abolitionists were looked upon as heroes and no longer villains.” Lecrae’s talk powerfully illuminates new perspectives and promotes compassion.