I have noticed that a ton of youth ministries are using snapchat as a communication tool.  I have been thinking lately, should youth pastors use snapchat?  Should we use this as a communication tool?

I don’t know if youth pastors, or youth leaders should be using a tool that will cause so much destruction for so many teenagers.  In 10 years from now, we will look back and grieve for the students in our youth ministries who’s lives were destroyed by sexts sent out through snapchat.  I hope that when we look back, we will be equally grieved by our endorsement of snapchat.

I feel like we don’t know, or are being naive about how destructive snapchat really is.  All you have to do is google “teens and sexting court cases” and you will notice that there are post everyday.  Why?  Because this is really a problem.  According to this infographic on snapchat called Snapchat defined and dethroned states, 20% of teenagers have sent a sext message via snapchat.  1 in 6 students have received a sext from snapchat.  If you are not alarmed by those numbers, you should be.  Snapchat and sexting affects 1 in 6 students in your youth ministry.  This isn’t a christian or non-christian issue.  Its a digital culture issue.  It affects all students.

What should we do?  

We need to be educated about SnapChat.  I feel like we don’t really understand it.  The more I read about it, the court cases, the students who’s lives are being destroyed by it, the more I am against SnapChat.  The more I am outraged by it.

What was it created for? 

SnapChat was created for sexting.  Adam McLane states this in his blog, “Currently, the creators of SnapChat are busy suing one another about who really created the application in the first place. The case has revealed documents which confirm what everyone has known since the beginning. SnapChat was created as a “safe” sexting app.”  Adam McLane also shares emails that show the inner conversations of how it first started up.

If that was the intended purpose, and is the intended purpose,  What are we doing using it?  In my youth ministry we recommend to parents and students that they don’t use it.  It’s easier to say that if I don’t use it.  It’s a bottom line for me and my ministry.  SnapChat is a tool that isn’t worth using.  I don’t want students on it, and I won’t communicate through it.

But every company is using it as a communication tool.  

Yes, they are using SnapChat.  Why?  Because they care more about money than about people.  What are you going to say to the student in your youth ministry who receives or sends a sext message?  How are you going to counsel them?  In those moments, you can justify to yourself that it’s just a communication tool, it’s not really that destructive.

But, it’s more than just communication.  Marshall McLulan states the danger of any tool, “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us”  Whether we like it or not, we are being shaped by our tools.  We are being shaped by Facebook, instagram, twitter, and SnapChat.  Students are building their identity on these social media platforms.  They are developing their sexuality online, and in unhealthy ways.

Yes, companies are using it as a way to communicate.  That doesn’t mean that we need to use it.  I still think the best way to communicate to students is through text.


Isn’t it private? 

Nothing is private today.  Nothing!  Not your email, your private messages, photos on your iPhone.  I was reading an article awhile ago on wired magazine, and they were talking about privacy with an expert.  The conclusion was that someone is just a password, or hack away to everything.  It is that easy.

Adam McLane over at his blog states the issue with SnapChat’s privacy, “Check this little gem out in their privacy policy: “Sharing of information: We may share information about you as follows or as otherwise described in this Privacy Policy: In connection with, or during negotiations of, any merger, sale of company assets, financing or acquisition of all or a portion of our business to another company;”

What does that mean? That means your “private pictures” are ultimately for sale. And you’ve given them permission to sell them.”

SnapChat is a big business.  All those pictures that you take, they own.  Everything.

That should be alarming.  Nothing is private today.


I don’t know how many students we are going to have to deal with until we become so disgusted with SnapChat and all it stands for.  I am sitting here grieving for students who are sexting as a way to show intimacy, as a way to find meaning and value.  I am saddened that these images could come back to haunt them tomorrow, a year from now, or 20 years from now when their kids are 10, or 11.  This is a serious issue.  Parents and students don’t know, because no one is telling them how dangerous this is.  Tim Challies in his book, The Next Story, states, ““No parent would ever put his child into the driver’s seat of a car without first teaching him how to drive– without first showing him how to accelerate gently, brake properly, use the turn signals, react in an emergency. It is only when we have taught our children and mentored them that we allow them to set off on there own. yet far too many parenents are sending their children into an increasing digital reality without proper training.”

I think as youth pastors we should be modelling what it looks like to use digital devices and social media platforms.  Just because students are on SnapChat doesn’t mean that your youth ministry should be.  What is your presence saying about the program?  About their usage of it?

We need to think critically about what and why we use the tools we use.  Let’s start thinking through these issues.

For further reference: 

Why You Should Delete SnapChat by Adam McLane

SnapChat Defined and Dethroned [infographic]


  • jhowe

    why not just stop using the internet all together then

    • Hey,

      Thanks for the comment. Appreciate you stopping by the site. I disagree that we should stop using the internet all together. SnapChat is a unique and destructive app that students don’t fully understand and parents are completely in the dark about. The more I research it, the more I am saddened by the destructive capabilities this app posses. The teens in my youth ministry are worth me not promoting through it. All I am trying to say is that by you promoting your youth ministry with SnapChat, you are promoting students to use this app. At the end of the day, it’s your call.

      • Ben Suggs

        I’m totally on board with encouraging wisdom and raising their awareness of what SnapChat does with their pics. The problem I have with your wide-sweeping boycott here is that you misplace the blame. If there was no snapchat, there would still be sexting. People were sexting via SMS before and they’ll do it after SnapChat, too. To me, it’s not a hill worth dying on and we should focus more on redeeming the heart of the matter more than condemning the method.

        • phd_student

          Snapchat makes it easy, as there’s this belief in the “disappearance” of the photos (which is false as the photos are in Snapchats servers anyway). With this “promise” it removes the inhibitions and the caution that might’ve prevented some from previous doing it on impulse. Yes there would still be sexting without it, but snapchat’s mantra, makes it way easier.

  • Brett VanZant

    I see all of your points and appreciate them. However, if most/all of our students are on it (whether we tell them not to or not they are going to use it) shouldn’t we at least be on it to monitor to some degree what is on it and being posted? It is definitely a dangerous app, but if I ignore it then I’m ignoring a huge majority of my youth group who is going to be on it. Just a hard discussion to me.

    • Hey Brett, I love your passion to reach students. I don’t know if my job is to monitor students. If it is to monitor students, I will get pretty discouraged by SnapChat. One thing I worry about with SnapChat is what happens if you accidentally get a sext message from a student or someone? One picture could change everything.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Jake

    I struggle with my feelings toward this. I agree with your conclusion that SnapChat is horrible and awful. I have never used it as a way to take a stand against it. But several of my students use it. I always give them the reasons why I don’t use it, but they still use it. This is where I tend to struggle. I want to meet my students where they’re at. If they are hanging out in the “dark places” of the world, I want to go in there and shine some light. The same goes for SnapChat.

    I can campaign against it all I want, but is that really going to get them to stop using it? I feel like that’s putting a band-aid over the deeper wound. If someone is using drugs, I can say, “Hey those can destroy your life,” but does that really motivate them to stop using them? Am I really going into the pit and pulling them out? How does walking by the hole and yelling, “You probably should be down there!” get them out of it? You have to climb down in there with them and work with them to get out. If I move into a “bad” part of town to attempt to make a positive impact, that doesn’t mean I condone violence, gangs, and drug use. And not everyone in that part of town uses those things. But hopefully Jesus can use me to influence others.

    I’m just working through my thoughts on this. Am I wrong to think of SnapChat in this way? Is it a cop out? Should I just focus on the individual relationships and use the trust I build there to steer my students away from SnapChat (among other things)? Or should I think of SnapChat as a “mission field” and use it to connect with more teenagers and to be a positive influence in an otherwise negative community?

    What do you, and others reading this comment, think?

    • Jake, Thanks for your comment. I love your heart for students and willing to help them deal with their struggle. I think SnapChat is where students are, but I wonder if this is where we should be? What the implications of us as youth pastors using this.

      I do think that Jesus can use us to influence students and parents. I don’t necessarily think its the same as drug or alcohol use. I personally think SnapChat might be one of the most destructive social media programs we will see.

      I used to think it wasn’t a big deal until it hit home for me. We are dealing with numerous students who’s lives are destroyed because of this program. Until you see one of your students getting charged with distribution of child porn, or have a student in your youth ministry sext an image that will circulate for year, then you will be completely against the use of SnapChat.

      Thanks for your heart for the parents and students in your ministry. Keep seeking him and wrestling with these questions.

  • Matthew Snyder

    Kolby – my question then is, What is being done to teach/grow students to where they understand the ‘why’ behind not using Snapchat? Im struggling with how just not using Snapchat (and ultimately without saying it, lumping everyone who does use it into a group labeled ‘sexters’) is going to teach students what the root problem here is, which isn’t using Snapchat, but rather the sin and dangers of sexting. Is there a way that we can teach students how to use tech/media/apps/ect without using them sinfully?

    Heres my struggle and reality. I have students, I know well, who use Snapchat, and who have never, ever, even considered the thought of sending a sext. Why? It’s not because I or my ministry didn’t use the app, because I have in the past. Its because they know the sin and harm in it.

    I’m not trying to start a fight, simply sharing thoughts and struggle that many others have. I am honestly interested in others thoughts. I believe we as church leaders must think through and hear others thoughts in order to rightly minister to those God has given us.

    • Matthew thanks for the comment. I agree that this is a tricky topic. I know that a lot of students aren’t sexting. But according to the stats 20% of your students have sexted, and 1 in 6 have received a sext message. I do think we have to help students live a christian life online.

      When you look at a tool like SnapChat, and what it’s purpose was intended for, then you can see how destructive it can be for teenagers. One sext message that is sent on a whim could be viewed by that students grand kids. That is alarming.

      I agree that we need to have these conversations. It helps us to really see the issue, and how we can either reject, redeem, or receive a program like SnapChat.

  • I’ll just leave this right here: http://churchm.ag/snapchat-not-naked-selfies/

  • Lauren

    Im 14 and I had an incident with snapchat last year and my mum doesn’t want me to use it , but I cant seem to stop using It . How can I stop myself from using it ?

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