In my last post, I shared some thoughts on how to use Instagram for youth ministry. In this post, I want to share with you the Instagram activity I did with my kids. Instagram is a very simple photo-sharing service available on smart phones. I decided to do an Instagram-themed night that involved a photo challenge, a lesson, and small group questions.
The Speed Photo Challenge
Some users participate in “Photo a Day” challenges where users take a photo based on a prompt each day for a whole month. Using this as a launching point, I decided to create an activity that would allow students to use this technology for a little photo adventure.
We divided up our students into small groups of 4-5. Groups had 20 minutes to complete 10 image prompts. They had to upload these to Instagram and tag the photos with @clashtastic and #instaclash. (Our weekly youth group gathering is called “Clash.”) I put these instructions and the prompts on a half-sheet of card stock and and taped the sides shut so they couldn’t peek. When I said, “Go” they rushed out to complete these 10 prompts. They were as follows.
- Upside Down
- On the floor
- ‘Cause YOLO
The pictures that came in were great. I was able to follow their postings live using an Instagram web service called Statigram. I simply typed in “instaclash” into the search bar and so long as the kids were tagging their photos correctly, they would show up.
As they posted photos, I saved some of the funnier or more creative ones and then loaded them into my presentation to show later that night.
Video: Stuff Instagrammers Say
I showed this video right before the welcome. Some probably had no idea what half of this stuff was, but I thought it was hilarious and I saw plenty of my kids laughing right along with the jokes. You can use this video to segue into how people can become so obsessed with image.
Instagram and God: A Lesson on Image
The night we did the Instagram-themed programming was the night we taught on the Incarnation. (This was done intentionally as I planned out the topic for the night before the theme.) It worked out perfectly because the Bible verses that talk about the Incarnation talk a lot about IMAGE. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is “the visible image of the invisible God” (NLT). And Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus was “made in human likeness” (NIV). The word “likeness” in that last verse can also be translated “image.” Our main text for the evening was John 1:1-18, focusing specifically on verse 14 which says, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (HCSB).
Instagram is all about taking photos or images or likenesses of yourself (or others). Jesus, who is the visible image of the invisible God, took on our image and was made fully human.
Here are some topics that may go with an Instagram-themed event:
- Being made in the image of God (imago dei)
- Jesus making us more into the image of himself (sanctification)
- Perception of reality
- Judging others
If your group allows time for discussion questions, you can use the same questions we used. We usually divide into groups of 5-7, depending on the night. These questions are based on the main text, John 1:1-18.
- What does it mean to be “accepted”?
- Are there places in your life where you feel accepted? Where you don’t feel accepted?
- At one point we heard that Jesus was not “received” or accepted by his own people (Jn 1:11). Why do you think people rejected Jesus?
- The next verse (Jn 1:12) says that those who do receive Jesus become children of God. What you do think it means to be a child of God?
- John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.” Have you ever moved from one neighborhood to another or one city to another? What does moving involve?
- Here, the Bible says Jesus “took up residence among us.” Another version says he “moved into the neighborhood.” What does it mean to you that Jesus moved into the neighborhood? That Jesus has come to you?
- Colossians 1:19 says that God made peace with everyone by having Jesus come to earth and to die on a cross. What does this say about God?
- What do we learn about God by looking at Jesus tonight? (Jn 12:45)
With all of the great photo opportunities that can come of this event, you can capitalize on this by getting prints done of the photos. These photos can be used to decorate your youth room, or can be used as postcards to send to kids to say, “Thanks for coming!” Save them and they can be used down the road at graduation dinners and whatnot. Share them with parents, too, because parents love to see photos of their kids. This a great way to connect with parents.
What About You?
Have you ever done an Instagram themed activity for your youth group? Or another social networking themed event? Do you have any thoughts on how to improve this idea?
Be sure to leave a comment and share your ideas!