I was listening to the recent ChurchMag podcast on Instagram in church. I though the guys did a great job of bring up some really important points like people’s privacy when engaging with God and also the dangers about putting people off church by being a fussy pot. However, I kept thinking about “Why” people want to use Instagram in church. Often we think about the consequences and yet don’t even think about why we do things, even though this can share more insight into our hearts.
Here are a few reasons I can think of for both good and bad.
Showing Off How Holy We Are
You know how Jesus talked about praying in private so only your Father sees instead of receiving our reward now…I sometimes wonder if things like Instagram, Foursquare check ins and even tweeting quotes from a church service can be used as a form of saying “look what a good christian I am!” I can’t see into peoples hearts and I am certainly not saying that this is the majority case or whatever but I am sure there are some people who post on social media to show that they are a good christian.
To Remember A Moment
I do wonder about the difference between being in the moment and recording it (both on a personal and corporate level), but while I generally try to make the most of moments and I have been critical of people not being “in the moment,” Instagram can be really helpful for remembering a moment. I’ve carried a notebook to church for years to try and remember important things from sermons of things God tells me during the service. I can easily imagine someone using their phone camera to save some notes onto Evernote or take a picture of a slide from the sermon to remind you of it.
Although this might not be the way you remember things, there is no reason why you should ban people who do remember that way (and the act of making a memorable moment certainly helps reinforce the memory.)
Some people are so used to recording events and taking pictures that you just keep doing it when you go to church. This isn’t necessarily good or bad but I’d certainly encourage anyone who is like this to gain a bit more self control and think a bit more. As Jeremy, Phil and Eric pointed out, there can be some consequences that can happen if we are careless and unthinking about taking photos in church.
To Share Jesus
Sometimes people just want to share Jesus. Maybe they want to show the amazing things happening in their church or the great things they’ve seen. Maybe they want to show their Christian contacts back in their hometown or perhaps they are trying to give their non Christian friends and colleagues a glimpse of Jesus. There could still be some negative consequences from sharing, but the intent is positive.
When Should You Share Your Pictures?
Another side that wasn’t really brought up in the podcast was when you should share an image. Generally we could say that you could choose either during or after the service. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, I favor sharing after the service as this allows us a bit more time to check our motives, not get distracted by the Internet, and at the same time, make sure we are respecting peoples privacy and not blocking them from Jesus. However, I am sure there could be some reasons for sharing during the service.
These are just some of my thoughts, There are bound to be some other reasons why people use Instagram and other services during a church service, but these were the immediate ones that came to my mind. I hope you will share some of your insights as well (especially if you use an image sharing service during or after service.)
Share your thoughts!