Written by Mike Sheley

You may or may not have heard of TikTok, but you have most likely heard of Musical.ly.

Many preteens, teens, and – yes, even youth pastors – have made sing-along videos with Musical.ly.  One year ago, in August of 2018, it merged into a new app known as TikTok.

Basically, if you are still not sure what we’re talking about, TikTok is an iOS and Android social media video app for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos.

These can be either videos of 3 to 15 seconds or looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. It is one of the most popularly downloaded apps in the world right now.

To catch a glimpse of how they see themselves, check out this description from their about page:

TikTok is the world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life.

TikTok empowers everyone to be a creator directly from their smartphones and is committed to building a community by encouraging users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos.


There are so many social media options, and tons of things happening online, why does this matter to youth ministry?


Almost half, 41%, of all TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old! Back when it was Musical.ly, the user-base was a bit younger.  But now, those users are growing with the app.

Marketing and technology researchers say, “TikTok is a must-explore marketing platform to engage the Gen Z audience, especially the ones who consume and share more videos than other age groups.”

If we are going to engage this generation, we need to take note of not just where they hang out or live physically, but also in the world of social media. TikTok is a very popular location for them, as you may already know from having one of them show you a video they saw on this network.


You can use TikTok as inspiration for fun programming ideas.

Most videos on TikTok are 15-seconds long, although they can be as long as one minute. So, if you watch for just a few minutes, you can get lots of ideas from fun lip-syncing options to simply funny videos.

You might share one with students to start a conversation or ask what some of their favorite videos are. One youth pastor started researching this and found out that one of his students already has over three million followers!

That’s part of the brilliance of this platform. Because the videos are short and the platform is relatively new, it is easier right now to go viral (over 1 million views) on TikTok more than almost any other platform. You might want to check it out and ask around.

If you have a student with a large following, they could potentially be a great person to help make video content for your ministry. They could also give you tips about how to become a content creator on TikTok.


As much as TikTok is used for entertainment, there is also content that is truly inspirational and motivational in very bite-sized pieces.
@findthemap has 1.2 million followers, and its content has been viewed 39.7 million times. One of their top videos shows them handing out pizzas to homeless people with cash and gift cards inside. This would be a great teaching illustration for random acts of kindness or putting love into action.


There are youth pastors who are sharing short, 15 – 60-second words of encouragement, challenge, or mini-teachings using TikTok.

Grayson Bearden is doing so and has 326,000 followers and over 4.6 million likes.

Youth ministries have even created accounts to share short highlights from summer camp videos to fun and serious moments in their weekly program.


But here is where part of the real value comes in. Most of us don’t want one more piece of content to create or one more video to shoot. However, most of us would love a larger audience and/or increased engagement.

Brock Johnson shares some tips in his 13-minute podcast episode on TikTok. He points out that it is relatively easy to go viral on TikTok without a lot of followers or content. And, since your account can be linked to other social accounts like Instagram and YouTube, you can grow your follower base on those social media channels from those who follow you on TikTok and then check out the links to see more of your content!

If you need a step-by-step guide to TikTok, WikiHow has several options, including one called: “How to Become Popular on TikTok.”


We also need to familiarize ourselves about TikTok because of some of the problems or dangers with the app and its creators.

In February of this year, the Washington Post reported:

Federal regulators fined social media app Musical.ly — now known as TikTok — $5.7 million for illegally collecting the names, email addresses, pictures and locations of kids under age 13, a record penalty for violations of the nation’s child privacy law.

The app failed to seek parental consent before collecting data at a time when so many users were under thirteen.

According to TikTok, that is no longer happening.
This is just one example of why we need to make sure parents are aware of these apps and the personal information their children may be sharing – without even giving it a thought.

Another observation is the amount of time that can be lost by watching a large amount of these short-form videos.

As we work with students, we need to help them understand responsible use and appropriate time management when it comes to these digital resources.


Whether you want to get the word out about your ministry, grow your followers, or just warn parents about what is going on with the apps their kids are using, you would be a wise youth pastor to know a little more about TikTok.


  1. Rob
    • September 3, 2019

    How foolish to think that Tik Tok is an app youth leaders want their teens to use. The sexually suggestive posts that are the primary kinds of things posted there will be harmful to our teens.

    Reply 1 Response
    1. Mike
      • September 4, 2019

      Rob, our intent with this post is to inform youth leaders about a platform that is popular, showing the positives and negatives of it. We are not endorsing nor against it. The fact is that students are using it. We want leaders and parents to be aware of that and to make their own choices from there.

  2. Brian Bell
    • September 3, 2019

    I think it is shameful that you would promote this app. It’s as dangerous as Snapchat, if not more so and the bad definitely far outweighs the good. I believe that there are things that can be redeemed to use for good that were created by the culture but in many cases the church needs to take a stand and let the culture see them taking a stand. TikTok promotes child pornography and, as you even mentioned, isn’t very secure which had helped promote human trafficking. This is a disappointing article and stance from a youth ministry resource.

    Reply 1 Response
    1. Mike
      • September 4, 2019

      I’m glad you saw that we highlighted both the strengths and the risks of this social media platform. Like any form of social media, there is really good and really bad content, and a ton that falls somewhere between the two.

      Our goal is for leaders to be more knowledgeable of something that is popular in youth culture.

      However, dark places need light. If we are to truly be the light of the world and to make disciples as we are going in the world, we need to consider how the world of social media connects with the Great Commission.

      And on a basic level, it’s a chance to have conversations with our students about the platform and the content, because many are on it or are viewing it.

      Youth Ministry is definitely cross-cultural ministry. Our goal with a post like this is to help inform leaders and equip them to do ministry with students more effectively.

  3. Traci
    • September 3, 2019

    While I completely understand the thought process here, I also disagree. I joined TikTok this year and not only was it consuming my time, it felt like an addiction. Add to it the fact that the content is far from wholesome and we have a serious problem. More often than not, I’d have to tell my young kids that they couldn’t watch or I’d even leave to a different room. Many of the videos contain messages that I don’t want my youth to be part of like self-harm, foul language being cool, or the massive amounts of sexual content. I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me to delete the app and warn parents and my youth about the dangerous world of TikTok. If there was a way to block certain content, I would probably find it to be a much better platform.

  4. Kent
    • September 3, 2019

    I actually use TikTok off and on for silly videos and short sermons of encouragement. It is definitely a great way to connect with students you know and to reach outside of physical boundaries, if used properly.
    Thanks so much for this article!

  5. Kathy Mickey
    • September 3, 2019

    Sounds Awesome!! Can’t wait to give it a try!! ?

  6. Shane Donohue
    • September 4, 2019

    I’m a (ahem) older youth pastor so any help/info I can get about all this new age stuff man I appreciate it!! I’ll be checking into this more. Had already been feeling like the lord wants me to start doing short videos. Thanks again!!

  7. Kristina
    • September 4, 2019

    I have 4 kids from 12 to 14 and I do not allow my kids to be on any social media. They all know what tiktoc is and they know they are not allowed. I have tiktoc and I have watched many videos on it. I appreciate the people who are preaching and being inspirational on there. However there is still too much half dressed men and women. Too many curse words. Too much non christian ways that I can not justify my kids being allowed on there.

  8. Nikki
    • September 10, 2019

    Thanks for the article! It’s very important for youth leaders to be aware of what students are interested in. Engaging them on this platform is a way to reach them where they are. Yes, there are lots of worldly things posted on TikTok but we are deceiving ourselves if we don’t step into their world.

  9. Jonno Strickling
    • October 20, 2022

    Thank you for this article. Of course the question arises: should we or shouldn’t we? It is good to be well informed before making such decisions, and cover the decisions with a good deal of prayer. The idea is to become the influencers in whatever community we find ourselves in: reality and virtually.


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