Should your church be on Snapchat?
My answer is different today than it was a few months ago.

I’m usually an early adopter when it comes to new technology or social media platforms. Like many people, when I started hearing about Snapchat, I quickly downloaded the app to check it out.

I quickly discovered two things about Snapchat:
1) The interface is terrible. 2) I feel old.

I spent 20 minutes just trying to figure out how to use Snapchat. But here’s what was making me feel so old. The younger guys on my creative team LOVE Snapchat. They’re on it far more than any other social media platform. And to be honest, I just didn’t understand why! I didn’t see what purpose this could serve for me or our church.

How is it that a platform like Snapchat has over 150 million people using it each day? How is it that this has become the platform of choice for millennials?

Being the stubborn man that I am, I decided to fight through the initial resistance and try to figure it out. I needed to understand what it is about Snapchat that is resonating with so many people. And perhaps, I just wanted to feel young again…

So after using Snapchat actively for a week, my opinion dramatically changed about the use and potential of this platform. I truly believe Snapchat is a game changer for social media and it could be a game changer for your church.

Here’s what makes Snapchat different

Snapchat is real-time

There are intentional restraints within Snapchat that lead the content to be real-time instead of programmed.

  • Posts only last 24 hours, and then they dissapear
  • You can’t schedule posts with photos or video taken outside of the Snapchat app
  • You can’t link your Snapchat account to social monitoring apps like Buffer, Sprout Social, or HootSuite
  • You’re limited to 80 characters that you can add to a snap
  • You can only login to a Snapchat account from one device at a time

These restraints can be frustrating for a church or organization running Snapchat. But the reality is, it’s those restraints that make Snapchat more engaging for people. It keeps the content from feeling automated. Theres far less noise on Snapchat than any other platform I’ve experienced.

The limitations of Snapchat do not make it impossible for churches to be successful. It does means that it’s going to require strategy and hustle.

Snapchat is all about authenticity

It’s your chance to be you. Not the polished, perfect, photoshoped version of you. The real you.

Snapchat is a great place to have fun and share the personality of your church. You can’t hide behind heavily edited photos, videos, or paragraphs of text. What you see is what you get. But guess what? That’s the version of you that your audience wants to see anyway. Authenticity always wins.

Snapchat is actually social

Snapchat is far and away the most social platform I’ve ever used, because it provides multiple ways to engage with your friends and connections. You can:

  • Post your story to all your connections on Snapchat, which will show up on their Stories page
  • Share a story directly with one person or a group of people you manually select
  • Use the chat feature for text conversations, audio calls, or video calls.

So many of the barriers that get in the way of relational engagement on the other platforms do not exist on Snapchat. There is tremendous potential to build relationships and connect with your audience. That’s what SOCIAL media should be all about, right?

Snapchat gives you a new toolbox to tell your story

Photos and short video clips still drive the majority of the stories on Snapchat. However, there are other tools built into the app that allow you to personalize your story in new and creative ways with things like filters, captions, stickers and drawings. These tools expand the ways that you can share engaging content and stories with your audience.

Should your church use Snapchat?

If you’re just need another place to blitz people with announcements, don’t bother with Snapchat.
If all you’re thinking about is how much time or resources this will cost you, don’t bother with Snapchat.

If you’re looking for a place where you can listen, connect and engage with your community…
If you’re wanting your church to feel less like a brand and more like a community…
If you believe that God can use and infuse God-moments through digital connections…

Then Snapchat may be for you.

Recently, our team went all in with the launch of our Snapchat account at West Ridge Church. I’ve been blown away by the response and engagement we’re getting. You can follow by adding “westridgechurch” on Snapchat.

I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes of the launch with some examples, stats, stories and tips that can help you get started with Snapchat at your church. To stay in the loop, get these blog posts delivered to your email.

  • I’m right there with you about feeling old. 🙂 I gave it a shot and quickly found myself saying, “I don’t get it.” And I still don’t. Oh well…maybe I am too old…or maybe it’s just another distraction, time wasting app that I just don’t have the time for. If you have the time to dedicate to actively engage with your audience then yeah go for it! As for me…I’m out.

    • @ryan I think one of the best ways to think about it is texting via video clips. You need a network of friends on there to make it start making sense and value IMHO. Basically find a bunch of other “old fogies” you regularly communicate with via text and commit to using SnapChat together instead.

  • Phil, outside of managing an actual content publishing routine for SnapChat, one of the most impactful ways to use SnapChat as a church or org is the custom on-demand geofilters. Do you know about them yet? Here’s an overview blog post and a step-by-step guide for how to set one up for your church: http://www.kennyjahng.com/snapchat-custom-geofilters/

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