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IMPACT Tailgate Party Video

Last Sunday we had a Tailgate Party for our students. People tailgate before football games, why not before church! We had a good time with some tasty breakfast food, 9 Square (our students love that game), corn hole and even some gift card giveaways.

Dale put some of our pics into a video. Check it out:

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Scary News About SnapChat

200,000 More Reasons to Delete SnapchatA number of students I know use the app SnapChat. For those who may not be familiar with it, it is a photo sharing app that allows you to share photos with people who follow you, but is supposed to allow you to control how long the photo is available.  You can send a photo to someone and set how many seconds they can view it. A recent addition is the SnapChat “story” where an image or video is available to all followers, but for a limited amount of time.

Since news of this broke on Friday I’ve received at least 50 texts, emails, and other messages about it.

I’m a little torn. I don’t want to say “I told you so.” More like– “NO!!! I tried to warn people.”

More than 4 million people have read my post, “Why you should delete Snapchat.” The PDF of that post has been downloaded 45,000 times. It’s been taught as an example of a persuasive argument in just about every state in the United States.

But here we are. My efforts weren’t enough.

Somewhere, in the ether of the internet, are 200,000 images posted online without permission. That’s on top of the countless number of Tumblr blogs and other websites dedicated to sharing captured Snaps.

The facts of what I wrote about Snapchat in August 2013 haven’t changed

  1. Snapchat is built on a lie that digital images disappear. They don’t. Once you take a picture with your device and send it to another person you’ve given up control of that image. Itmight get deleted. Once you send it via text, email, or upload it to an app… you lose control.
  2. You think you’re anonymous online, but you aren’t. Whether it’s Snapchat or Yik Yak or an online forum, everything you post online points directly back to you. Everything. That happens at the device level with metadata. It happens with your ISP or mobile provider. And it happens with app developers at the server level. The only one who doesn’t know who everyone is on an anonymous app are the actual users. And, as we’re about to learn with the Snapchat leak, facial recognition is a double-edged sword.
  3. Snapchat was created as a safe way to sext. In the past year since the January 2013 uproar, Snapchat has done a very good job navigating further and further away from it’s genesis story of a safe sexting app. I’ve acknowledged that publicly. They introduced some new features, they’ve said all the right things in the press, they’ve educated users, and– even for me– they truly have done a good job trying to pivot Snapchat from the salacious history, which indeed fueled the initial popularity, to something better and more mature. But they can’t get away from their history or the subset of users who use the app as a safe way to sext. As Mitt Romney learned in 2012… you can’t “Shake the Etch-a-Sketch” and just tell a new story sometimes. If they were serious about getting rid of the subset of users who sext with the app they would invest a few million dollars to develop a feature that detected nudity and blocked it. (ala facial recognition in Facebook or iPhoto.)
  4. The Snapchat leaders seem more interested in blaming others than blaming their app. When they settled with the FCC, it was a misunderstanding and they didn’t own responsibility. When user names and passwords were leaked, it wasn’t their incompetence as developers– it was unscrupulous people wanting access to an unlimited treasure trove of private data. And in this latest leak, it’s not the fact that Snapchat has an open unofficial API that even an untrained developer can crack into within a few minutes then build and release iOS and/or Android apps on the official marketplace— it’s these 3rd parties who are to blame. We all know people like this. Whether it’s entitlement or immaturity or arrogance, they can’t simply admit that their leadership failed, that Snapchat is bigger than they are capable of leading, or that their skills as a developer are not up to snuff. Instead they play the “Hey, I’m just a kid, I make mistakes” card. Snapchat is valued at anywhere from $2 billion to $10 billion. (Though with existing and pending litigation I can’t see it.) Isn’t it time for the leadership at Snapchat to be held responsible? Shouldn’t the board, likely full of VC investors, make a decision to remove the founders and put in place someone capable of finishing the job? Surely, if the eventual goal of Snapchat is to sell it to Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, or whoever wants it– the maximum value of Snapchat will never be achieved with a bumbling leadership team who can’t publicly own failure. Duh.

If anything, what I wrote in August 2013 has been validated time and again. Which only leads me to the same conclusion: Delete the app.

Do not trust an app built like this. And do not trust people like this.

There are white hats and black hats in this world, Snapchat wears a black hat.

Beyond “I Told You So”

Right now, nearly every hour, a story is coming out blaming Snapchat for this leak. And they are 100% to blame. No doubt many will join me in calling the Snapchat board to remove Snapchat’s founders for their incompetence.

But, emotionally, I’m just not interested in “I told you so” any more than I truly care about who is the CEO of an app people should just delete.

Just like there wasn’t anything in it for me when I wrote the original post in August 2013, I am not somehow filled with pride that this has happened and I was right all along. (If you didn’t know, I wrote the post in response to requests from a group of moms at a seminar. I couldn’t answer their question about Snapchat sufficiently on the fly, I told them to watch my blog and I’d write some reasons you should delete it.)

So here’s what I’m feeling about the Snapchat leak:

  • I feel terrible for the people who will now pay a penalty for their lack of understanding on how the internet works. Yes, we should hold Snapchat responsible. And I believe that the FBI will hold those who have leaked images of minors will be arrested for distribution of child pornography.
  • For those who have had images leaked, I hope they seek and get justice. What was done to them was wrong, it’s against the law, and the perpetrators may have had a good reason (to expose Snapchat’s vulnerability) but that’s not reason enough to violate the law.
  • I hope the public learns from this leak. For those who will have images posted, I hope they’ve learned that no matter what is promised, anything shared online is ultimately public. Take solace in knowing you aren’t alone. But make a correction in your behavior, as well, so that it never happens to you again.
  • As a Christian, I believe all humans are ultimately fallible. This isn’t about Snapchat– it’s about us. (Ourselves and the people we thought we trusted.) We make mistakes, people we trust betray us, and we all live in a space between blaming ourselves and blaming others for a lot of stuff. (Not just this leak) This is what we do as humans. While we all have good in us, as we’re made in the image of God, we also have evil in us. Last week I wrote about a new research study about teenagers and sexting. In talking about this with some friends I came to this conclusion: 100% of us are susceptible to sexting. The reason many haven’t is that the opportunity hasn’t arisen in our lives. The hormones of sex and the dopamine rewards of our inborn reward system are simply stronger than us. We all need Jesus. We need his strength to resist. We need forgiveness when we mess up. And we need His hope (and the actions of His people) for freeing the world of sexual exploitation. But I don’t see myself any better than those who have leaked images or had images leaked. And neither should you.
  • Let’s not forget that the leak is about sexual exploitation and the power of shame in our society. In the coming days it’ll be easy to throw people under the bus and blame them for taking these images. But there’s a big difference between exchanging these images with someone you trust (or are flirting with) and having them published, perhaps with their usernames or real names. Trust me, those affected will feel terrible enough as it is. Let’s not forget that the release of these images is illegal. (Do I even need to say it… DON’T LOOK AT THEM!)
  • These aren’t 200,000 images. These are 200,000 people. That’s a lot of hurting people out there. Ugh, my heart hurts.
  • I’ve got more work to do. One thing that’s become clear over the past year is that there aren’t a lot of people actually trying to educate teenagers about social media in a useful way.Scaring them doesn’t work. Instead, I’ve found that helping them understand how basic principles of social media play out in the real world as well as creating some common language with the adults in their lives really, really helps. In so many ways– I’m sick of talking about social media. But I also don’t feel like I can stop because the need is so great.

Why Have You Deleted Snapchat?

I’d love to hear from people who have had enough and deleted Snapchat. Now that you aren’t using it, what are you using instead?

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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IMPACT Snap Shot 2014-15

Last Sunday (Sept 7th) we had an information meeting for our parents and students to share about what’s happening in IMPACT Student Ministry this school year. We gave a quick overview and had a few printed handouts with information. One of the main things we wanted to provide families was a snap shot of the events & activities planned for the school year. With the many activities our students are involved in, we are hoping this will help as families juggles schedules.

Here is the Snap Shot. (If you are involved in IMPACT Student Ministry, feel free to share this!)

IMPACT 2014-2015

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Another Great Week of Camp

Camp pic 2I spent last week at Butler Springs Christian Camp leading the Basketball 2 week (for students going into 5-8 grades). This was my 10th summer leading this particular week. Some of the things have changed – like those who serve on faculty and of course those who attend.  The facilities and grounds continue to be upgraded, but there are a number of things that stay the same.

One of the highlights of the week was the number of students who responded to the invitation to become a follower of Jesus. Since we spend about 5 days together, we offer a formal invitation at the end of the week and encourage the students to be in conversations with their family leaders about what it means to follow Jesus.  I knew a handful of our campers were doing that, but didn’t expect 16 students to come forward.  We had 11 baptisms take place before we left the camp and several were planning to be baptized at home churches.

One of our high school students baptized a girl from her camp family.  One grandpa who served during the week had the privilege of baptizing his granddaughter.  It was a great way to end the week.

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Another highlight was the faculty with which I served.  Several of my faculty members have been doing camp as long (or longer) than I have.  Many of us have served multiple summers together and they are such a benefit to the week.  One of the couples who serve with me didn’t have kids when we first worked together.  Now they have four kids and their two older boys were part of the week.  Some of the faculty are teens who used to be campers a few years ago and have now come back to serve.  I’m so grateful for the time and energy they give to the students throughout the week.

I think this year more than ever the hearts of our adults were touched by the campers we got to know.  There were a few students who came from some difficult backgrounds.  While we didn’t know a lot about what home was like, we saw enough to know that these students needed love, compassion and attention paid to them.  I’m so grateful for the adults who came alongside those students, encouraged them, became a friend to them and showed them the love of Jesus.  Even when our patience was tested, our faculty continued to lovingly serve.

I know that God was working before our week of camp ever started and He is working now.  He simply gives us the opportunity to come alongside what He is doing and for five days interact with the campers He brings.  I’m thankful for that chance.

 

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Face Time Over Screen Time

Technology is quite simply a part of our culture. I love the phrase “digital natives” because it describes our students so well. My niece, who is just 5 years old, is quite adept at operating her mom’s iPad. I remember sitting at a basketball game a season ago and had twin two-year old girls sitting on my lap. They were scrolling through my iPhone trying find the game apps. If they opened an app they didn’t like, they knew how to close it out. They are simply natives to technology. They have grown up with it.

What is interesting then in the results of a survey I read on the Simply Youth Ministry Blog. They referenced research done by Common Sense Media that asked 1,000 13 to 17 year olds how they are communicating today. 90% have used social media. 68% text and 41% consider themselves addicted to their phones.

That makes this infographic so interesting. A higher percentage prefer Face Time over Screen Time.

Face Time to Screen Time

It’s a good reminder that we all want to connect with others and relationships are important. Sometimes the screen time can open the door to meaningful face time conversations.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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InstaScavenger Hunt @DownloadYM

This weekend our IMPACT students participated in an InstaScavenger Hunt.  Using smartphones to capture various pictures and videos, they uploaded them to Instagram with the hashtag #impactinsta.  While the concept of the scavenger hunt has been around for years, we had a great time going around town taking pictures under bank signs, of the entire group in a bathroom stall and a video of the chicken dance under the KFC sign.

A few of the pictures are below.  You can search #impactinsta on Instagram to all of them.

I modified a list for our hunt from Download Youth Ministry.  It was a great resource to use and had some fun ideas. (Thanks DYM!)

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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Images over Words

snapchatSeveral weeks ago I posted about the growth of Instagram and how it surpassed Twitter in number of users. It appears that people prefer images over words.

After meeting with a group of junior high students, Tim Elmore found that trend is showing up in how teens communicate with each other. Text messaging is being replaced by apps that allow teens to share images.

Here’s a small portion of what he posted on May 6th about the growth of images over words.

Snapchat — an app that allows users to send photos to one another that disappear after a few seconds—has taken over many teen’s portable devices. So has Instagram. It may well be the future of phone interaction. Just like Facebook, once parents and teachers began to figure out how to use text messaging, students were bound to find new ways to communicate.

It wasn’t that long ago I reported to readers that teens today send about 3,000 texts a month, or about a hundred a day. That’s changing now. And not just for teens but for all ages. As a whole, people are texting less now than we used to. According to Chetan Sharma Consulting, “The average U.S. cell phone user sends about 628 text messages per quarter, down 8 percent from a year ago.”

Technology and communication are ever-changing. We’ve gone from land line to cell phone to email to MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat and other forms of staying connected. For those who work with students, it’s interesting to see where the trends go.

What do you see students using to communicate with each other?

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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