This morning I finished up our 6th grade boys lock in at the church. It was an awesome (and exhausting) night of junk food, video games, crazy games and great memories. And even though I am basically comatose at this point after getting near to no sleep here are some quick thoughts:
1) Lock-ins’ are powerful. I know that holding a lock in is super hard, very tiring and takes years off of your life…BUT, a good lock-in is the kind of memory maker that sticks with students. They may not remember a word you taught during their junior high years, but they will remember the relationships that we’re developed at a lock in!
2) When it comes to lock-ins, smaller is better. A couple of years ago I started trying out a new idea, where instead of holding a huge lock-in for the entire youth group, I’ve encouraged our jr. High small group leaders to hold “mini lock-ins” with their small groups once a school year. Here are the advantages: less stress, intentional focus on relationship building, easily manageable, etc. PLUS these events bring our small groups closer together super quickly based off of all the shared memories!
3) Use your lock-in to test out your volunteers. Nothing will make a volunteer show their true colors like being locked in a building all night with smelly, energetic teenagers. Last night at our lock-in I had a new volunteer join me to see how he would handle all the controlled chaos/lack of sleep. He did a great job and I got to see how he reacted in a variety of different situations. Now I’m not saying that you should freak out every new volunteer by forcing them to go to your I overnighter’s…but…it is a perfect way to gage how much one of your volunteers likes teenagers!
And then again…it’s an overnighter. With that in mind, here’s a classic from my friend Jake Rutenbar: