I just got back from vacation.  It was amazing.  You should have seen it, you would have been quite jealous.  Beach house.  Coffee shops.  Bonfires.  Parks with the family.  Amazing meals. I even got a date with my wife.  I have very little photographic evidence of it, and if you and I were friends on social media sites you would have no reason to believe that my life was any different than the other 51 weeks of the year.  Why in the world would I not post this memorable week to share with some of my most distant friends?  I wanted this one to be for my family and those I talk to.

If your life is anything like mine, then the world of what is ministry and what is not becomes very grey.  And beyond that, I can’t say I really want there to be lines.  God has redeemed all of me, and I don’t want to live public and private lives.  However, as calls come in whenever, emails are answered always, and my family is my best sermon illustration I often feel that those who follow me on instagram know as much if not more about me than my own family.

So I made a decision that I would go radio silent for the week.  I did pretty good at it too! I liked a few photos.  Made a few snarky comments.  Responded to a few emails from those people that either wouldn’t leave me alone or had the power to fire me. For the most part, I disappeared.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I post like a bad Mama Jamma.  If I have something Facebook-worthy it goes up.  Kids sleeping on the floor, it is there.  Awesome youth group night; I’m your man.  And frankly there are many vacations where I want to show others my version of a family enjoying themselves.  So I do live loudly when I can on social media sites.  To that end, my wife continued to post this past week, in fact she became louder on vacation.  That doesn’t mean I am a better Christian (for the most part).  It was a personal decision and a gift that I wanted to give to my family.  They may not have even noticed.  That is fine with me.  I just wanted to be present.  To enjoy all of them and capture the event, not the event so it could be communicated to others.

I think you should do the same.  Not always, and for me this is the exception and not the rule.  For some it may be that you take a break on dates, on Mondays, or when the sun goes down.  I don’t think there is one version that is better than another, however I would strongly encourage you to find those moments in your life that are only for those you call family and for those who are dear friends.  Not to be selfish or exclusive.  Rather to silently say to those around you that they are your “circle”.  They are your “friends”.  They are true “followers” of you and your life.  Without saying no to others, it slowly communicates that you are more than a public figure to your church body and the students you minister to.  You are a dad, a wife, or friend.  All of which you need to do well if you hope to be called a youth worker in five years.

To finish this post it would be fitting to show you a vacation picture, but I didn’t really take any.  I promise to show you my next youth event, latte art, or when my kid puts their clothes on backwards.

Jeff Bachman is a husband for the past 11 years and a father of three amazing kids.  He is the High School Pastor at ROCKHARBOR Church just up the road in Costa Mesa, CA.   He loves emails at jbachman@rockharbor.org, twitter interaction, and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.

There is much about youth ministry that is always changing.  How we gather, how we teach, how we formulate life groups, what makes a youth pastor relevant.  There are as many things to are unchanging (besides God).  Pizza, all-nighters, road trips, and one of my favorites…photo scavenger hunts.  But here is the problem.

  • Polaroid Scavenger Hunts were expensive…
  • Digital Scavenger Hunts took a ton of time to collect photos and make a show…

Instagram Scavenger Hunts could be the youth group event of the future with the side benefit of a massive amount of youth group photos to populate your facebook page, the walls of your youth room, and anywhere else you want.

I had the privilege of working with a couple other great youth pastors as they were developing what I affectionately called “The Photo Scavenger Hunt for the Next Generation”.  It started with our Families Pastor, as he told us to take photos for a staff retreat using Instagram on our smart phones and then give it a specific #title.  It was a raging success.

From there, our Families Team ran a conference and gave all attendees a contest to participate in.  We used this promo below.  It was created, filmed, and edited by the fantastic Joel Stanton.

A list of photos to take during the weekend convention was provided.  There were prizes offered for the best photos or the most completed successfully.

From there, our Middle School Pastor used it as a Middle School Life Group Night.  He had challenges like these for the groups to do:

  • Instagram a picture using the RISE filter of a Pyramid next to our church trailer.
    • Then Tag it #nameofyourevent
  • Instagram a picture using the TOASTER filter of everyone making a basket with their shoe.
  • Instagram a picture using the HUDSON filter of your whole team in a car.
  •  Instagram a picture using the LO-FI filter of everyone planking on a curb.

Obviously this list is limited by only your ideas!

We will be doing this as our High School Fall Kick Off.  Forming groups, racing (safely) around our area, and then ending up some place for an after-party, and an already organized slide show, from their hash tagging skills has been created.

It was fun to watch the evolution of how this started and what this event has become.  I feel like they caught lightening in a bottle.  Hope it works as well for you.

Jeff Bachman is the High School Pastor at Rock Harbor Church just up the road in Irvine, CA. Feel free to leave comments or email him at jbachman@rockharbor.org and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.

I must confess that I am in geek heaven right now. May 4th marks the launch of the Summer Movie Season. Now I, like you, are probably confused. I will not have my beach body or golden tan by May 4th. All of my waxing appointments are at the end of May (more of a Memorial Day celebration really). So how in the world can that be the LAUNCH? Well, when a movie like the Avengers opens, it demands that the summer is starting. After that comes Batman & Spiderman movies. That doesn’t even include other great popcorn flicks.

Never before have we seen, on such a large scale, this many superheroes on the same screen. And by early reports and reviews it was done masterfully well. Sure you have seen Batman, with Robin, Batgirl, and a mess of villains. The X-Men. Or even Spiderman in the third offering with Sandman, Green Goblin II (Hobgoblin, if you will), and Venom. What a sad waste. So there have been other large superhero ensembles, but what is different about this is not only how many heroes, but the concept behind the Avengers.

There are a group of superheroes that come to the realization that they are better together than they are alone. Sure, there will be the typical ego battle at the start of the movie for who is Alpha Dog, but eventually they all realize that they each have specific gifts, skills, and abilities that no one else can do, and if used with the other skill sets…well they are unstoppable. Sound familiar?

It’s not like I needed an excuse to compare my life to that of superheroes, but it is what I am doing every day I call myself a youth pastor, or work in the areas of ministry and leadership. I have the high honor of meeting people, helping them to discover who God has made them to be, and then assist in placing them in the perfect spot where they will be used and God will ultimately be most glorified. Who needs the Avengers when you get to do what I do?!? I read in 1 Cor. 12 where it says that God has given every one of us, who is dwelt with the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts. Those gifts are not meant to be kept, but rather to be used for the building up of the whole body. And then from there, it goes on to say that the body is not made up of many of the same part, but one of each part. Who needs a bunch of Iron Mans? Only one. However, if you don’t have a Hulk, you are in big trouble. When I look at my team like this, they think I am weird, but it helps me staff my own team, exhort and encourage them, and stick to my own skills. It is a beautiful picture of God’s design when we have our team, doing what each of us do best, working side by side, proclaiming God’s love and pushing back darkness. Dang, I need a costume!

A couple questions I am currently asking myself to assemble the best version of a team:

  • 1. What am I good at and who has God made me to be?
  • 2. What has God called our team/ministry to do and be? If I don’t need a tech team (I do) then I should release them to do good works in other areas.
  • 3. What is it that God has gifted others to do and be…and then do I have a place for them? If so, staff for that, and then let them fly.
  • 4. Am I praying that God will lead me to know the needs of the group I am ministering to, and that He is sending the right people?

Look around and see who is among you. I am always shocked at the diversity that is among the people who call our church home.

Final encouragement. This takes time. I have been at my current job for 8 months and I am still missing pieces. Not because the people who are there are doing a poor job, rather we are all tasked out in other areas and I am still learning my team. The other issue is that I am working as fast as I can to assess and mobilize which often takes longer than you would think.

As the people come in and we assemble, the only thing I have left to get is a jet pack or maybe learn to do kick flips…all in due time I guess.

Jeff Bachman is the High School Pastor at Rock Harbor Church just up the road in Irvine, CA. Feel free to leave comments or email him at jbachman@rockharbor.org and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.