Tag Archives: Lock-In

The Lock-In (Part 4)

Posted on 11. Sep, 2009 by .


So, what ever will you do with a bunch of kids for 12-13 hours? We’re masters at programming for 60-90 minutes, but all night it totally different. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard. First of all, you need to think smaller. Think in 30 minute increments and it gets so much easier. Because registration can tend to take a long time, I usually try to start the evening off with a movie. Doing this gives everyone time to arrive, check-in and get to one place. A typical schedule would be to have the doors open at 6:45. While kids are registering and dropping off their sleeping bags and such, I’ll have an MC keeping things happening in the auditorium. I’ll do a short welcome at 7:20 and then start the movie at 7:30. Between check-in and the intro movie, I’ve kept the kids occupied and having fun until 9:00. Now that everyone is here, I’ll go over the guidelines and such after the movie is over. We’ll wrap up with a fun group game and dismiss the kids to start their rotations by 10:00. I typically divide the kids into gender and grade groups. So a lock-in with K-5th, I’d have 12 groups with six rotations. A lock-in with 1st-5th will have 10 groups with 5 rotations. I’ll let both genders of a grade rotate together. Essentially every grade will rotate through all six rotations every half an hour. Rotations might include some of the following.

  • Group Games: in the biggest room we have we’ll do active games like relay races, dodge ball, and any other fun game that engages all the kids.
  • Movie & Snack Room: In this room the kids will watch a 30 minute movie while pigging out on snacks.
  • Video Game Room: This room will have all kinds of video games set up, enough so that every kid can play a game or at least won’t have to wait longer than one turn.
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The Lock-In (Part 3)

Posted on 10. Sep, 2009 by .


Structure and organization are necessary for fun. Without structure and organization, you’re volunteers are going to hate you. Without structure and organization, the kids will experience too much freedom which leads to fights, injuries and hurt feelings. In the end, they won’t have fun either. You must have this in place!

First of all, every minute of the lock-in must be scheduled. Your volunteers want a plan. They love a plan. The idea of being with all these kids all night scares them. They think in their heads, “what am I going to do with these kids all night?” However, when you give them their schedule which outlines a different activity to attend with their kids every thirty minutes, they can get excited about that. The kids don’t have to know the schedule. It can be an adventure for them, something new and crazy every thirty minutes.

Second of all, don’t do a lock-in without guidelines. Be very clear on your guidelines. I post the guidelines on the registration page for the lock-in. After they register, I include the guidelines in all their paperwork that parents have to sign. I train the volunteers in the guidelines so they know how to keep their kids in line and what to do if kids get out of hand. Last of all, I personally go over the guidelines with all the kids before the lock-in gets started. I make sure that they clearly understand what they can and cannot do and what will happen if they break guidelines. To most people, my consequences are pretty strict. However, we rarely have to enforce them becasue the kids know the guidelines and they stay in line. It’s more fun that way.

I found that it took me the most time to establish policies, guidelines and scheduled for that first lock-in.… Read the rest

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The Lock-In (Part 2)

Posted on 09. Sep, 2009 by .


I only have one ingredient to my recipe for success. All you need is the same ingredient and you’ll see success. Want to know what that ingredient is?

The ingredient is… FUN!

Okay, that sounds kinda obvious and cheesy, but I say it for a reason. I’ve seen a lot of church’s suck all the fun (or most of the fun) right out of an event like this. I’ll tell you what the fun-suckers tend to be.

  1. Over spiritualizing the event. Just because your event is a church event doesn’t mean you need to program it into a VBS/Sunday School/Kids Church filled event. I’m not saying any of those things aren’t fun. I’m just challenging you to the idea that you can gather a group of kids at your church and not do ANYTHING overtly spiritual. I actually think that the quality of relationships built while having fun may be significantly more powerful than any kind of “lesson” you want to teach the kids. At most of my lock-ins we’ll say a prayer to open things up and we’ll pray before eating breakfast, but that’s in. It’s my belief that if the kids like the lock-in enough, they’ll be drawn in to engage where things are a little more spiritual.
  2. Don’t play it safe. Be extreme! Think about things that kids LOVE to do and program the event around those things. Usually this involves being loud, partaking in sugary snacks and doing stuff they don’t get to do at home. I’m not advocating dangerous activities here, just do something different that what you do on Sunday. I like to tell people that we’re not just going to have fun at the lock-in, we’re going to have “stupid” fun. We’re going to get the kids as wired and riled up as possible.
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The Lock-In (Part 1)

Posted on 08. Sep, 2009 by .


late-night1I have a love/hate relationship with lock-ins. I’ve been doing them since I became a children’s pastor over a decade ago. I’ve done small and highly unorganized ones (in the early years) as well as huge and highly organized ones (my biggest topped 300 kids) and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

So why do I hate them? They’re so FREAKIN’ long! Now that I’m in my 30’s, it takes me a week to recover. By the time it’s over, I just want parents to not be late so I can go home and fall asleep on my couch. Yes, this is selfish, but it’s a perfectly acceptable reason to hate lock-ins.

Why do I love them? Because kids FREAKIN’ love them! When we announce that we’re doing a lock-in, about half the kids wet their pants with excitement. Almost every kids loves a sleep over and the idea of doing this at church is just extra cool. Throw in some amazing activities and you’ll have nearly uncontainable excitement.

Beyond that there are several other reasons I do lock-ins.

  1. They provide a jump-start of excitement into your ministry. All kids can get into a routine. Sometimes our ministries can as well. Something fun like a lock-in can generate some excitement and energy around your ministry (if you’re depending solely on lock-ins and events to energize your ministry, there’s a bigger issue though).
  2. They’re a great connection point for your kids. The average kid attends church 40 hours a year (I think the average kid at my church is much less). Connecting kids to other kids as well as kids to their leaders is a huge benefit to lock-ins. The 10-13 hours of the lock-in equals 25-50% of the time a small group leader might spend with that child all year.
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The Lock-In

Posted on 08. Sep, 2009 by .


lockintest21This week I’m doing a little series on Lock-Ins. Over the years I have found them to be incredibly powerful events for the Children’s Ministries I lead. I thought I’d write a quick series on why I do them and how to pull them off.

I’m going to include how we plan, what resources we use, how much they cost and everything else you might want to know. I’ve got a lot of information and I don’t think I’ve really blogged much about my lock-ins up to this point. So, if you’re interested in taking a peak behind the curtain, tune in to the posts this week about lock-ins.… Read the rest

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Lock-In graphic

Posted on 15. Jul, 2009 by .


We’re doing a lock-in just before school starts. We’re a little behind the eight ball. I designed two graphics that we’d use on the web and post cards to promote. What do you think? Which do you like?

lockintestlockintest2Read the rest

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The Ultimate Lock-In – Managing chaos!

Posted on 24. Apr, 2007 by .


One more Ultimate Lock-In… in the bag! As further detailed here, I carried out the 2007 Ultimate Lock-In on Friday, April 20. Probably due to my youth and my quest for fun, I keep my kids up late. Many times, my kindergartners start dropping like flies once we get past the 2:00 am threshold. It was great fun and I think I’d only change a few things.

Here’s the details:

  • $20 a kid ($15 each additional sibling)
  • 186 kids
  • 45 pizzas
  • 2 school busses
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Calculated Risk

Posted on 16. Apr, 2007 by .


In less than two months, I’ll be a father. Finally. For over ten years of ministry I’ve often gotten strange looks from parents or fellow leaders as a result of some plans or programs. Occasionally they would actually say, “one day, when you’re a parent, you’ll do these things differently.I know my life is about to change. I know everything is about to be different. But I’m really anxious to see if I’m really going to do some of these things differently. I’m not rebellious by any means. If anything, I’ve always been more of a people-pleaser. But sometimes when I get these strange looks and comments about not understanding, it drives me to want to really mix things up.Read the rest

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