The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications

E004 - Should Churches Use Snapchat?

James: Today we're talking about Snapchat Joanna. And let me just start by saying that I was on Snapchat for maybe two days and then I got off it. I don't know if it's because I'm too old or didn't know enough people on it but it didn't last for me so I don't know a lot about Snapchat. How about you?

Joanna: I don't currently use Snapchat. And I'd love to tell you why.

James: You were saying that you're not on Snapchat and you can't tell us why. Let's hear why. I know you have lots of thoughts about Snapchat.

Joanna: Yeah I have a Snapchat account. It sounds like you actually built one as well I don't know if you've totally deleted it or just sort of a placeholder.

James: It may live on a zombie somewhere but I was five years ago four years ago and I just know you're not showing your age. But I'm sure the account exists out there somewhere.

Joanna: Yeah. So and the same from for me and for our church my church. I opened Snapchat accounts when it looked like it was a growing thing. But today I would say as it's evolved as a platform I would say I think people should avoid it in churches.

James: And we were talking about this before we started recording the show and you were just talking about how there just seems to be a lot of things that you can't control as well as of just there's a lot of either sexual or pornographic content that yeah kind of just shows up. Yeah that can be scary for a church staff person especially if you are using it and promoting it and you're having all kinds of youth or young adults or even just adults engaging with something that is going to be a place of either temptation or where they're going to see content that they shouldn't be coming across.

Joanna: Yeah. So on a lot of platforms if you want to see that kind of content you would have to choose to follow it to engage with it or it would be an ad that may be for some reason you were targeted with that kind of gross ad but you could actually hide or turn it off. On snapchat you can't, it's just locked in there at the top. And so whether you're 12 or 13 years old or you're 33, 40, 50 years old you're going to get this thing across the top that's like how to improve your sex life with gross pictures promoting you to click on it and all that kind of stuff. It's it's just. Here's the thing. Thirty five percent of 16 to 34 year olds say it's their favorite platform but they also are using other platforms. So we might say oh it's their favorite platform. We should be there. OK but they are actually in other places that you can with a bit more integrity engage with people without promoting the stuff that's kind of sketchy. You can find them on Instagram and YouTube as the other huge places that young people are engaging. And so why not engage him in places that you have a little bit more control over what kinds of content you know they're going to be seeing.

James: But what if you're like a youth pastor or are you working youth and you see that all all of them are on it so you kind of want to be using it to be able to like post things or communicate with them. What are some of the positive and negatives of kind of engaging with it despite what you were saying before?

Joanna: Yeah I mean obviously you would feel like oh there that's where the youth I'm leading are hanging out. I want to connect with them I want to have relationship with them but they are in other places that you can connect with them. So it's not that that is the only place that they are now. The thing that I would caution anyone who's working with youth or even just working in church at all is that one of the problems is because you can't have a paper trail you can't cover your own butt. What I mean by that is if someone accused you of doing something sketchy on social media posting a gross picture or talking to them in an inappropriate way you have no way to actually track that. You have no way to prove your own innocence. And so I think you're just setting yourself up to be vulnerable when you can engage with your youth on another platform like Instagram or YouTube or some other messenger services where you can see a full paper trail of your conversations and show that you are an upright trustworthy person.

James: All right Joanna so where can people find you?

Joanna: Im at Joanna LaFleur on Instagram or for articles if you want to reach out to me I'd love to connect.

James: And you can find me on Instagram at visualmediachurch and what's the next episode Joanna?

Joanna: Next episode we're talking about social media accounts for sub-ministries or different sites or campuses of your church. Should we do it? What are the pros and cons?