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. We’re going to feed them candy well past midnight (maybe even give them some for breakfast). We’re going to let them run and play until they drop. Most importantly, we’re not going to make anyone go to sleep. Yeah, you’ll get some parents to roll their eyes, but the kids are going to have so much fun, most of your parents are going to become true fans.

Here’s the thing. Fun isn’t really the ingredient. It’s the goal. In everything you do, “think fun!” Don’t be reasonable, “think fun!”

This scares many of you. Don’t worry, my lock-ins are not wild and crazy free-for-alls. Rather, they are well planned and highly structured. This way the kids still have fun, but they stay safe and it keeps things easy for my leaders. More on that tomorrow.