If you haven’t tried Snapchat, it’s a remarkably simple application. This social media platform allows people to send pictures or short videos to other users. These photo messages (“Snaps”) may either be shared privately to one connection or to all of your connections as a part of your feed of posts (your “Story”).

Either way you share them, the pictures have a time limit. Snaps you send to your connections are usually visible for only 10 seconds once opened before disappearing. Your story is only visible for 24 hours.

One of the core features of Snapchat is the array of filters and text messages users can overlay on their pictures and videos as a running commentary about what they experience during the day.

The best way to learn more about Snapchat? Ask a young adult in your congregation—Snapchat’s largest group of users is 18- to 24-year-olds.

Isn’t Snapchat dangerous?
If you don’t use Snapchat, chances are all you’ve heard about it has been negative—stories about people sending each other inappropriate pictures or bullying each other. Yes, these things can happen on Snapchat as they do on every social media platform. Like any social medium, Snapchat is a tool. The best thing we can do is learn to use these tools well and communicate responsibly.

What next?
Download the free app, create an account and connect to your friends. Here are some ideas to get started:

Watch for a while. Just watch the Snaps posted by your connections. Maybe even follow a few brands or organizations. Get a sense of how the app works by watching the way people tell their story on Snapchat and use the filters.

Be inspirational. Did you see something that inspired you today? Something that reminded you of God? Take a Snap. Sometimes the best thing we can do amid the chaos and noise of life is offer people a small moment of joy and inspiration.

Tell a story. Use Snapchat to tell the story about an event at your church. Take some behind-the-scenes Snaps during the setup and post them to your Snapchat Story. Capture a couple of Snaps of exciting moments during the event and add those too.

Snap facts

  • 150 million users: Snapchat continues to grow at an astonishing rate—depending on who you ask, up to 60 percent of all smartphone users ages 13 to 34 are on Snapchat.
  • Nearly 100 percent open rate: If you send an email, you are doing well to have 30 percent of the recipients open it.
  • If you post to Facebook, around 10 to 25 percent of your audience may see it. But if you send a Snap, it has almost a 100 percent chance of being opened.
  • 40 percent of all high school students and 77 percent of all college students use Snapchat daily.
David L. Hansen
Hansen is pastor of Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church in The Woodlands, Texas.

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