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. Doing an event like a lock-in at the start of a school year might be a great catalyst for relational growth/
  3. They’re great for building teams. I treasure this time with my volunteers and leaders. You don’t really know a volunteer until you’ve seen them amped up on sugar at 3 AM. The fun conversations, games and times spent with your volunteers during the event and while the kids are sleeping is so valuable.
  4. They’re great for recruiting new volunteers. Every time I do a lock-in I seem to grab a few new volunteers. Sometime it is that really protective parent who MUST come as a helper becasue they don’t want to part with their child for the night who ends up becoming a volunteer by the end of the night (it’s that connecting part and team building part that does it). I also have many parents get excited about being a part of something that their kids are so excited about.

Like I said, I have a love/hate relationship with lock-in (I really love them a lot more than I hate them). Whether at a big church or small church, I’ll plan one once a year. Check in tomorrow to see my recipe for lock-in success.