Dear Youth Pastors on Snapchat

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Not everyone has conformed. There are still some of us brave and undaunted parents who are fighting, against all odds and societal norms, to keep our children from being polluted by the world.

We are the parents who do not allow our teenagers to use social media.  Have you met us? Did you know such parents existed? We are in your church and our teenagers attend your student ministry. We wholeheartedly believe in this choice, and we are desperate for you to hear why.

The truth is, Youth Pastor, you are making it really hard to teach and authenticate the Gospel inside our homes. Your social media use, specifically Snapchat, is a large stumbling block for my children’s understanding of how Christ followers distinguish themselves as such. When we deny them access to Snapchat because of the sexual immorality known to occur there, they insist it must be okay because you are on it. When we explain why they don’t need any social media, especially Snapchat, they explain this is the only way you communicate youth/student ministry activities during the week.

As parents, we understand you are using this social media tool to reach a generation of teens in desperate need of Jesus. We also recognize your need to connect with teens in order to get them in the door before you can share the Gospel with them.

We understand all this, but our kids do not.

To explain this better, let’s take the cliché bar analogy.

As a youth pastor, you go into a bar, not with the intention of getting drunk but to be where the lost and sinful gather. To draw them out and away from their sin. You believe you are evangelizing, reaching the lost, capturing their attention and building relationships.

Our teenagers, however, only see that their youth pastor is in the bar. And not just any bar, but a provocative, scandalous bar that entices the appetites of addiction and overflows with sexual immorality. They don’t see anyone leaving the bar or coming to Christ because of your presence. Just knowing you are there, they must reconcile your presence with the immoral things they know occur.

You see, for teenagers finding their faith, only one truth can win in this reconciliation:

Either the Bible is right: sexual immorality is unholy (making hypocrites of all Christians who claim they follow the bible and love Jesus yet make no attempt remain sexually moral.)
or
The Bible is wrong: sexual immorality isn’t wrong (and thus, everything else my parents taught me about the Bible and Jesus are probably wrong too.)

The new bar in this social media town lowering the morality and purity of countless young teens is Snapchat. It is exposing teenagers to pornography, both through creation of porn themselves and exposure to the porn created by others. Snapchat promotes gossip, slander, self-promotion, envy, greed, hatred, shaming, dishonesty, and on and on.

And while you, Youth Pastor, try to stay away from these unholy activities, the teenagers who are watching you don’t know this. They just see you on Snapchat.

In the same way, parents hear that you are on Snapchat from their children. Often, these parents are already wrestling with whether to allow Snapchat because they, too, have been warned of its sexual immorality. They look towards the church to see what standard they should follow. Upon hearing you, the youth pastor of the church – the person heavily relied on to lead and shepherd their teens – is active on Snapchat they concede it’s probably okay.

But then there are us parents who read the word of God and cannot reconcile teenagers with Snapchat as healthy for their discipleship and faith. We believe the word of God is applicable to every parenting decision, regardless of the culture or what our children tell us the youth pastor is doing. .

What God Says versus How Teens Justify

“’Everything is permissible for me.’- but not everything is beneficial….the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord…flee from sexual immorality” 1 Corinthians 6:12-18

“Sure there is porn on Snapchat – but if I wanted porn, I could find it anywhere, not just social media.”

“Among you there must not be even a hint of immorality or of any kind of impurity or of greed because these are improper for God’s holy people.”  Ephesians 5:3

“The Pastor’s daughter has Snapchat, so it can’t be that bad. Wouldn’t the pastor want to keep his daughter away from sexual immorality?”

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality and that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.”    1 Thes 4: 3-4

“If you think I’m going to end up taking naked pictures of myself then you clearly don’t trust me!”

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3: 16

“Social media is where you create yourself, connect with friends, and hang out. Sure there’s lots of competition but that’s what makes it fun.”

It is hard enough for our teens to live out a gospel directed life under obedience to their parents without Snapchat. It is equally hard for us parents to keep our teens from conforming to a standard clearly prohibited for the Christ follower. Why? Because there are so few of us living this out.

We Need You

In this precious season of their life, sexual immorality is hungry lion that should not be provoked. Drawing from the book of Revelations, we need to be hot or cold; black or white.  This gray, lukewarm place where the church has settled is producing lackluster men and women of faith who are leaving the church in droves.

We need a united partnership, Youth Pastor. Together, we can fight against the enemy and his desire to keep us wading in the gray, lukewarm waters while our children drown. We need you and your support to raise up Christ followers unpolluted by the world. Frankly, you need to resist cultural trends like this. Flee from the app so popularly known as the “sexting” app!  Have nothing to do with apps that breed competition, envy, pride, and selfish ambition. Set a holy standard for teens to follow. Delete Snapchat!

You already have access to our teenagers and their hearts by your God-ordained position.  As a mentor, you stand a better chance of positively influencing them during this tender transition into adulthood. You don’t need digital access to their stories, streaks, or any sexual immorality you may find – you just need a relationship with them.

The apostle Paul didn’t instruct the early churches to just ‘be careful’ around sexual immorality. No, he insisted they flee from it, they would avoid it at all costs, and that they would put to death anything promoting such things. Are you doing the same? Your resistance to anything associated with sexual immorality can speak louder than any sermon or message you deliver.

We are living in a media-saturated, sex-crazed, and phone-addicted world and it is time the church start to look different. It’s hot or cold, black or white, but it cannot be both. It is time to flee from anything sexually immoral.

Youth Pastor, it’s time to get off of Snapchat.

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Kelly Newcom

Kelly Newcom

Kelly is author of the book, Managing Media Creating Character, and the founder and executive editor of Brave Parenting. She is a mother of 7 foster-adopted children ages 10-20. Kelly is passionate to help others bravely parent counter to culture and societal norms. She believes parenting is Kingdom work and must be done with the courage and bravery of a warrior of God.

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