Instagram Spirituality


I’m sure you’ve heard of Ignatian spirituality, Franciscan spirituality, and probably even Benedictine spirituality. But Instagram spirituality?

Please stick with me for a moment.

Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays the bizarre Dwight Schrute on NBC’s sitcom The Office, presented at the 2012 South By Southwest Interactive in Austin, TX (an event considered by many as *the* tech event of the year). Rainn surprised many in the audience when his talk took a divine turn. He said, “I believe the Internet is the future of spirituality. It’s a spiritual act to share a beautiful photo on Instagram.”

For such a time as this, huh? Well, as Brandon Vogt writes in his book The Church and New Media, “History has shown that God showers down new mediums at specific times to spread his Word in new ways.” Maybe Rainn Wilson is on to something here?

So what is Instagram?

Instagram, launched in October 2010, is an app that allows users to share pictures with each other in a fun and creative way. Initially released for iOS devices (iPhone/iPod touch/iPad), Android users rejoiced when the company released a compatible app in March 2012 (or was that just me hooting and hollering?).

Here are a few stats about Instragram:

  • 50 million+ users
  • 1 new user per second
  • 300 million+ photos shared per day
  • Over 1 billion photos uploaded

This app certainly has experienced much success in its relatively short lifespan.

How Do You Get It?

If your mobile device is running Android 2.2 or higher, head over to Google Play and download Instagram for Android. To get the app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, head over to Apple’s App Store. The app is free.

How Do You Use it? 

Snap a photo (or choose one from your gallery) and apply one of several filters and borders to transform the look and feel of your picture. There is a filter called “lux” that gives your photo a pop of vibrancy; add a blur effect for another layer of interest. Once satisfied with the filters, your photo can be uploaded and shared in your Instagram photo stream. From here it can also be shared on other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The people who “follow” your photo stream are then able to see your picture in their feed. To keep your photo stream private, you can lock down the settings and require authorization before anyone is granted access.

Let me illustrate how to use Instagram using a picture I took with my Android. Here’s a photo saved in my phone’s gallery. I open up Instagram and select this photo.

Now I am able to edit and add special effects.

Once satisfied with how my picture looks, I add a comment describing the picture and save to my photo stream. In the feed you can see a few of my followers have “liked” it.

It’s an easy, fun, and free way to share pictures in a social format. But is it a spiritual act? In my experience, I see people capturing beautiful moments to share with their followers. As I scroll through my feed I see pictures of flowers, sunsets, family gatherings, a cathedral, and the first crop of vegetables from a backyard garden. All are images reminding me of God’s great glory and His bountiful gifts.

Conversation Starters:

Are you an Instragram fan? How do you use the app? Is Instagram a new medium to share God’s Word with one another?

(And P.S., my Instagram user name is @lisaannschmidt if you would like to connect!)

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Schmidt


About Author

We welcome guest contributors who graciously volunteer their writing for our readers. Please support our guest writers by visiting their sites, purchasing their work, and leaving comments to thank them for sharing their gifts here on To inquire about serving as a guest contributor, contact


  1. Thank you for the picture explaining the buttons on Instagram. i’ve had Instagram on my iPhone for several months, but gave up trying to use it after an initial frustration. I couldn’t seem to figure out if I had to use it to take a picture or could use a picture from gallery. Now I know. 🙂 Now I’m all set to try it again. Thanks!

  2. Lisa, I’m a big Instagram fan too and I think you’ve done a great job of capturing how we can share our AWE at God’s goodness and bounty using this amazing tool. I hope they amp up their online presence soon – would love to interface with it more when I’m sitting at my desk and not just on the phone. Love this! Would love a follow up comment (or even an article) on what types of photos work best on Instagram…. thanks for a great column!

    • Thanks, Lisa! You offer a terrific suggestion for Instagram developers regarding a larger online interactive presence. I hope to see this improvement, too. Do you by chance use HootSuite? I do and use their Instagram app. This allows me to stream my Instagram feed alongside my Twitter and Facebook streams. I’m able to view photos, add comments, like photos, and share across platforms. Not perfect, but an option to interact without moving away from my laptop.

  3. Pingback: Tech Talk Digest for Last Week |

  4. Pingback: What’s Sweet about HootSuite |

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.