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 and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.

There is something totally entrancing about boxers and MMA fighters. I watch them do something that I don’t think that I am equipped to do…physically or mentally. Even more amazing than watching the actual fight is talking to them afterward. I have had the privilege of serving with a leader who is getting his MMA career back on track after a surgery. To hear him talk about fighting, you would be astonished. It isn’t a street fight for him. It is a chess match. ”If the other guy does this, I will do this, but if he turns and uses his left hand then I am going to change and do this with my upper body to block his attack.” I could sit and listen to him talk about it all day long.

Another thing that makes him successful is the team that he surrounds himself with. In the sport of fighting, there are timed rounds and a short break in between. During that time the fighter sits in his corner with his team who has a totally different view of what is going on. They bring another perspective, bandage him up and tell him to start doing things and stop doing others. They boost his confidence and tell him where he is performing well or poorly. In his last fight, he was gracious in attributing his quick win to the collaborative effort of all those who invested in him. It wasn’t just about his own amazing ability and fighting skill, he recognized that without those around him it would not have been a successful or victorious fight.

It is highly likely that I will never step into a ring to fight. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a battle of our own in the world of ministry. What I know to be true is that in our success and failure, in our effort and our gifting we still have our own battle. Part of it is physical in nature. Some of it is spiritual. All of it is about God. In that, there will be times that we feel excited about our calling and ready to head out in the fight. Even when we are “winning” we will take on some amount of “battle damage”. Even the best fighters have a black eye or cauliflower ear from time to time.

Recently I had one of those days. I was taking hits and they were beginning to have their effect on me. I will neither confirm or deny that I may or may not have thrown a chair(s) in frustration. My prayer time after this was less holy and controlled and more screams and accusations. God and I worked through that, and I left that time confessing that I felt alone. I told Him I wasn’t sure how long I could hold on if I was doing this thing by myself. In the span of 24 hours God placed (or reminded me of) four different people in my life to sit and listen, encourage, and help me get perspective and get back out there…which was so necessary.

Being in a new city doing ministry I am still in the process of finding those people who are “in my corner”. Not everyone is going to be your best friend or know all about you. But what I found from all of my conversations is that these were people who had different roles in my life and different skill sets. They are able to speak into different parts of my life. The structure, the spirituality, the craft, and even to the nature of my own heart. What they had in common was some level of care and affection for me. They want me to “win,” if you will.

I would suspect these people don’t even fully know that they did what they did. They were just being themselves and being generous with who God made them to be.

People in your corner come in different forms. I have those I seek out and ask to join in my fight. I have those who are in my life, regardless of what I am doing. I have those who are fighting their own fight, but I can learn by watching them. And then those people that God has brought into my life, and I have no good reason as to why I deserve them.

The great thing is, those people can change roles, evolve, and deepen in relationship over time. So I try to not write anyone off. I have also found that as I begin to establish who support me, I have become better at being in other people’s corner as well. I wipe their sweat. I bandage them up. And then send them out into their own fight. It’s not always just about my fight, but helping others in their own battles.

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 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 and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.

For the most part, when I write something about youth ministry it is field-tested. I have done it…it worked. I have done it…don’t ever do it. I have done it…check out these scars. One of the ideas floating around in the old noggin that I have never done and I don’t know if it will work is … wait for it…seasons passes.

Allow me to explain: we live in a CostCo world. If I can’t buy 12 of something at a discounted rate then I don’t want any of them. I love the idea of warehouse stores so much that I bought my wedding ring at CostCo. (Longer story for another day) What if we were to sell season passes to our youth ministry with some of the same mentality? It would work something like this. We do 10-20 events throughout the year that cost different amounts.

    Winter Camp-$200
    Summer Camp-$500
    Connecting Event (Broomball)-$10
    Connecting Event (Road Rally)-$25
    Mission Trip-$100

…you get the point. If you were to plan your entire calendar for the year and figure out the cost for a family to send a student to everything you would come up with a grand total. Assuming the above 5 events were the only things my ministry was doing it would cost a student $835 to attend all of them.

What if you offered a 20% (or whatever you could afford as a ministry) discount on the cost of all of the events, and if a parent spends $668 they could go to all of the events for a 20% discounted rate?

The reasons I think I am on to something:

Who doesn’t love a discount? More for less is a good thing.
Forces you to plan (and stick to) your events for the year. I am 6 months into a new job at a new ministry. This will probably not happen for a year or two until I am sure of what works and what doesn’t.

There is a group of students who are bought into an event before you even start to plan for it. Once you have paid for something there is a willingness to go to it. You don’t want to waste the season pass. So you can assume most of the students who bought the pass will be at any given event. If not then you can be disappointed about their absences with a little extra money in your pocket.

You have some seed money for start of the year costs. All of our deposits are due at the same time and I put our accounting offices into a panic every September. If your budget was front-loaded by some extra incoming cash, they might not break into a cold sweat every time they saw you coming.

You can allow payment plans. Take the cost of your season pass and divide it by 12 or a little less after a deposit and then families can budget it on a monthly basis.

This one is a slippery slope…You could give some discounts or other privileges with the pass. Discounts on shirts, books, or other things you sell. Maybe front of the bus (or back) seating. Like I said, this one could get a little dangerous but just a thought. As mentioned, this is in the beta phase of genius, so I would love your thoughts or why you don’t think it would work. Maybe you have already tried it and you have some evidence one way or the other. Would love to see a discussion in the comments!

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 and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.