First and foremost, I agree with the points Daniel makes, except for the part about kicking puppies, maybe kicking cats would of been much more appropriate. All joking aside, I appreciate what Daniel has brought to the table and how we should be more aware of the pictures we are posting up on Instagram. I, like many of you, have an Instagram and post pictures of my students. I not only post group pictures, but also pictures of an individual student, male or female, with only myself. I have no issue with this and think using Instagram for youth ministry purposes can be a great thing.
As I considered what Daniel was writing, I believe there is something much deeper than Daniel’s issues at hand. Instagram, or any other social media, won’t get you fired from youth ministry. Social media falls under those grey areas in the bible, since no such thing was even conceived as possible at the time. Yet, I treat social media in light of 1 Timothy 4:4;
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
It’s funny to think of Instagram as holy; but the truth is, how we use it to glorify God is what makes it holy. We have this amazing ability to use all of God’s creations to bring people closer to him, and we should be willing to figure out how to use all the tools God has given us in a glorifying way.
So with that said, what can get you fired? Bad judgement. If you keep making poor choices with the tools God has given you, expect to experience a backlash. If all you are doing is taking pictures with one particular boy or girl, expect people to start wondering about your relationship with them, which could lead to your termination.
However, if you’re taking pictures with multiple students, or individuals with guys or girls, than people will see the love you spread to others and won’t wonder about your motives. This is why it is important to have guidelines for yourself, your volunteers, your students, and your ministry so that you can protect yourself and others. We may have major guidelines, but sometimes little things, like pictures, are forgotten about. If you don’t have guidelines for the pictures you post up, I encourage you to make some. Here are some questions to ask ourselves when we are taking pictures:
- How is this picture representing myself, my students, the student ministry, the church, and Christ?
- How many pictures have I taken with this particular individual or group?
- Am I favoring one student or group over the other?
- What can I do to encourage students to take the proper pictures of themselves and each other?
In the end, make good judgment calls when you’re ministering to your students and their families. Have open discussions with your student’s parents and your volunteer team on what they believe is appropriate for all social media outlets. When everyone knows what your guidelines are when it comes to social media, texting, pictures, volunteers, etc., then you can minister without fear of someone believing your motives are impure. Have fun with Instagram, and take lots of pictures to show the world how amazing our God is!
What are your guidelines for social media?
Do you believe it is appropriate to use Instagram in youth ministry?
Joshua Fuentes is the Student Minister at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, TX, and works with both youth and college students. Josh has been working in student ministry for six years, and has experience as an intern, bi-vocational, and full-time student minister. He has been married for five years and has a beautiful four year old daughter. Currently, Josh is attending seminary at the South Texas School of Christian Studies and writes on his blog at millennialchristianity.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFuentes85