FREE Encouraging Instagram Graphics

Social media is a great way to encourage followers, including your students, their parents, and the church body you serve.  From time to time, I love to create some Instagram graphics that highlight a Scripture, a quote, or the lyrics of a great worship song to encourage those who follow me online.

You can download 9 ready-to-post Instagram images from our store at https://youthminresources.com/product/encouraging-instagram-images/

An Open Letter to Church Leaders

You might assume by the title of this post that I’m concurrently working on my resume and a blog post, but I’m excited about sharing this post with you and with my own church leaders as we seek to make Christ famous.  I am also eager to hear back from you on what you would share with your church leaders, and I hope this post will be a great conversation starter.

I know that every denomination and every church has a different structure and different definitions of “leadership.”  In my church, we are locally governed by a group of elders, as qualified by 1 Timothy 3.  These are men that I respect, love, and am honored to serve with.  With that context in place, here we go.

Dear Church Leaders,

Let me start by saying that I am honored to serve in the Kingdom with you.  You have been called by God, appointed, and affirmed by our congregation to lead and govern us as a Body.  You bear a heavy burden, and I am thankful for your leadership, your devotion to our Lord and His church, and I write this letter with a submissive heart.  As a co-laborer in Christ, I’d like to share some things from my heart that may encourage and challenge you.  I hope this can open the door to more collaboration in the future.

1.  Your interest in the Youth Ministry means more than you know.  As I speak with fellow Youth Ministers, one of the most common mantras I hear is “I wish my leadership was more aware of what we are doing.”  I know you are busy, and there is no way you can be involved with every ministry in our church.  But you have no idea how encouraging it is to see our leaders stick their head into youth group on a Wednesday or Sunday night, to volunteer to run an inflatable at a 5th Quarter, or even just to ask us in the hallway how the ministry is going.  Those little connections make a BIG difference!

2.  Embrace our differences.  One of the greatest things about the Body of Christ is that it is full of very different people serving One God in very different ways.  There are a lot of things about the students I minister to that would probably blow your mind, and the methods I employ may not make sense to you, but I hope I have proven that you can trust me.  Students live online through smartphones and tablets.  They spend HOURS on Snapchat, Kik, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more.  I know we may be very different, but I’m certain we both have a place for ministry in this congregation.  So, forgive me when it sounds like I’m speaking Greek, or when I’m asking for some gadget in my budget that weirds you out.  Hear me out, and I guarantee I’ll have a reason for it.  Then, we can go from there.

3.  Give me feedback…any feedback…please.  I believe with all of my heart that God has called me to this ministry, and specifically to ministry in this church.  I think about youth ministry when I get up, when I go to bed, and almost every minute in between.  I’d love to hear from you about your perceptions concerning our youth ministry.  I have blind spots, and I need your feedback so that I can improve.  Be honest, be kind, but I want to be the absolute best Youth Minister possible.  You can help me with that.

4.  Don’t be afraid to try something crazy.  One truth about leadership that I learned early on was that you will never make everyone happy.  You have been given a huge responsibility to shepherd and lead the flock, and sometimes, that means shaking people up.  I challenge you to take a leap every now and then, think outside the box, and make people uncomfortable.  Some of the best decisions I’ve ever made in ministry seemed a little crazy at the start.  I know it may mean criticism from time to time, but don’t be afraid to try something new and different.

5.  Pray for our students.  Our students are in a crazy world.  Many of them have difficult home lives, some struggle with abuse and neglect.  Others are being pressured by coaches, parents, teachers, and school administrators to perform at near-perfect levels in every area of life.  It seems that the students’ calendars are more full than mine with academics, athletics, church, extracurriculars, and more.  Lift them up in prayer often.  It would be greatly appreciated.

I am praying for you, for our church, and for your leadership.  I believe we can do some amazing things together for the Kingdom, and I am eager and ready to follow your lead.  Let’s do this!

Using Social Media for Ministry

I really enjoyed this post from Jarrid Wilson yesterday about Social Media and the Church, and in particular, I really liked this quote of his

Let’s be a generation that TAKES BACK the internet and social media for the Good of Christ, using them to share His LOVE and HOPE. Use your social networks for Gospel good works. We are called to tweet, post, pin, tumbl and digg all in the name of Christ.

Our Youth Ministry tries to really keep this mindset, and we use our instragram feed to post pictures that are meant to keep the theme of our messages in our students lives throughout the week. We post verses that are meant to be a 20 second devotional. And we have other things we try and do to use your Instragram feed for Ministry purposes.

Odds are, if you have an Instagram for your Ministry, you do, too. But finding those images can be tough work. I’m blessed to have photoshop at my disposal, but not every Youth Pastor is. So what I thought we would start doing is every week on Friday’s, we’ll share the images we shared as a site, and you can feel free to use them in your ministries.

We’d love it if you shared your images as well!

If you make images to share on your churches feed or ministries feed, and you want to share them with other Youth Pastors, share the image in the comments and we’ll put it into the post. Together, we can make this a great resource for ministering to Teenagers through Social Media.

So, here are this week’s pictures from us so far:

Instagram Video and how it can be used in Youth Ministry

Just 6 months ago, twitter announced Vine, and I thought that was going to be huge for Youth Ministry. Earlier today, Instagram announced Video on their service, and I know this does change Youth Ministry. I’m so excited about the things that Youth Ministries can now do on Instagram, and it’s only been an hour since I found out!

Video Scavenger Hunts

Many Youth Groups already do instagram scavenger hunts, but now you can do video scavenger hunts using the same sort of guidelines, hashtag and tag your youth group account. This one is a super basic way of using Instagram Video that is a no-brainer, but none-the-less, it’s going to be huge for youth group games.

Video Announcement Clips

There are Youth Pastor’s out there that are extremely creative, and I can’t wait to see what starts getting rolled out on instagram. I feel like it was just last June that I was getting annoyed that people were posting images of text on instagram, but that quickly turned into one of the best uses for instagram Youth Ministries could think of : Instagram Announcements. With video, you can now do 15 second announcements without having to worry about too much hassle. 15 seconds is short, but you don’t need to go into great detail. Have an image at the end that you choose as the cover image, and bam, you can have more information via text on the cover. Like I said, there are some highly creative minds in Youth Ministry, and I can’t wait to see how this is used.

Youth Service Recap’s

Who needs to post a single image of a great night of Youth Worship when you can post a clip of it? Similar to announcements, you’ve got 15 seconds to show your students what they missed, or remind those there what happened at Youth Group. Don’t think of it as 15 seconds being not enough time, think of it as refining what you need to convey in a concise manner. That principle applies to the previous idea as well.

Motion Loops

I went outside to my pool and captured a video of the surface movement of the water and was able to put a nice filter on it and it struck me that I had just made a 15 second motion loop for worship backgrounds in a matter of about 20 seconds. That’s unbelievable!

So like I said, it’s literally been an hour since I heard about this, but I’m excited. I can’t wait to see more practical uses of this service begin to be uncovered.

What are some other ways you can see using Instagram Video in your Youth Ministry?

Instagram Won't Kill Your Ministry, But Something Much Worse Will.

Many of you have read Daniel Beckworth‘s  post “Instagram Will Kill Your Ministry” over at Youthministry.com. If you haven’t,  please make sure to read his post before you read mine.

First and foremost, I agree with the points Daniel makes, except for the part about kicking puppies, maybe kicking cats would of been much more appropriate. All joking aside, I appreciate what Daniel has brought to the table and how we should be more aware of the pictures we are posting up on Instagram. I, like many of you, have an Instagram and post pictures of my students.  I not only post  group pictures, but also pictures of an individual student, male or female, with only myself. I have no issue with this and think using Instagram for youth ministry purposes can be a great thing.

As I considered what Daniel was writing, I believe there is something much deeper than Daniel’s issues at hand. Instagram, or any other social media, won’t get you fired from youth ministry. Social media falls under those grey areas in the bible, since no such thing was even conceived as possible at the time. Yet, I treat social media in light of 1 Timothy 4:4;

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

It’s funny to think of Instagram as holy; but the truth is, how we use it to glorify God is what makes it holy. We have this amazing ability to use all of God’s creations to bring people closer to him, and we should be willing to figure out how to use all the tools God has given us in a glorifying way.

So with that said, what can get you fired? Bad judgement. If you keep making poor choices with the tools God has given you, expect to experience a backlash. If all you are doing is taking pictures with one particular boy or girl, expect people to start wondering about your relationship with them, which could lead to your termination.

However, if you’re taking pictures with multiple students, or individuals with guys or girls, than people will see the love you spread to others and won’t wonder about your motives. This is why it is important to have guidelines for yourself, your volunteers, your students, and your ministry so that you can protect yourself and others. We may have major guidelines, but sometimes little things, like pictures, are forgotten about. If you don’t have guidelines for the pictures you post up, I encourage you to make some. Here are some questions to ask ourselves when we are taking pictures:

  • How is this picture representing myself, my students, the student ministry, the church, and Christ?
  • How many pictures have I taken with this particular individual or group?
  • Am I favoring one student or group over the other?
  • What can I do to encourage students to take the proper pictures of themselves and each other?

In the end, make good judgment calls when you’re ministering to your students and their families. Have open discussions with your student’s parents and your volunteer team on what they believe is appropriate for all social media outlets. When everyone knows what your guidelines are when it comes to social media, texting, pictures, volunteers, etc., then you can minister without fear of someone believing your motives are impure. Have fun with Instagram, and take lots of pictures to show the world how amazing our God is!

What are your guidelines for social media?

Do you believe it is appropriate to use Instagram in youth ministry?

Instagram Won't Kill Your Ministry, But Something Much Worse Will.

Many of you have read Daniel Beckworth‘s  post “Instagram Will Kill Your Ministry” over at Youthministry.com. If you haven’t,  please make sure to read his post before you read mine.

First and foremost, I agree with the points Daniel makes, except for the part about kicking puppies, maybe kicking cats would of been much more appropriate. All joking aside, I appreciate what Daniel has brought to the table and how we should be more aware of the pictures we are posting up on Instagram. I, like many of you, have an Instagram and post pictures of my students.  I not only post  group pictures, but also pictures of an individual student, male or female, with only myself. I have no issue with this and think using Instagram for youth ministry purposes can be a great thing.

As I considered what Daniel was writing, I believe there is something much deeper than Daniel’s issues at hand. Instagram, or any other social media, won’t get you fired from youth ministry. Social media falls under those grey areas in the bible, since no such thing was even conceived as possible at the time. Yet, I treat social media in light of 1 Timothy 4:4;

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

It’s funny to think of Instagram as holy; but the truth is, how we use it to glorify God is what makes it holy. We have this amazing ability to use all of God’s creations to bring people closer to him, and we should be willing to figure out how to use all the tools God has given us in a glorifying way.

So with that said, what can get you fired? Bad judgement. If you keep making poor choices with the tools God has given you, expect to experience a backlash. If all you are doing is taking pictures with one particular boy or girl, expect people to start wondering about your relationship with them, which could lead to your termination.

However, if you’re taking pictures with multiple students, or individuals with guys or girls, than people will see the love you spread to others and won’t wonder about your motives. This is why it is important to have guidelines for yourself, your volunteers, your students, and your ministry so that you can protect yourself and others. We may have major guidelines, but sometimes little things, like pictures, are forgotten about. If you don’t have guidelines for the pictures you post up, I encourage you to make some. Here are some questions to ask ourselves when we are taking pictures:

  • How is this picture representing myself, my students, the student ministry, the church, and Christ?
  • How many pictures have I taken with this particular individual or group?
  • Am I favoring one student or group over the other?
  • What can I do to encourage students to take the proper pictures of themselves and each other?

In the end, make good judgment calls when you’re ministering to your students and their families. Have open discussions with your student’s parents and your volunteer team on what they believe is appropriate for all social media outlets. When everyone knows what your guidelines are when it comes to social media, texting, pictures, volunteers, etc., then you can minister without fear of someone believing your motives are impure. Have fun with Instagram, and take lots of pictures to show the world how amazing our God is!

What are your guidelines for social media?

Do you believe it is appropriate to use Instagram in youth ministry?