Lessons From a Lock-In

h20 student ministriesH20 Student Ministries (our Youth Ministry here at Corry First) hosted a New Year’s Lock-In (also known as an overnighter, and even a sleepover, though I can count on one hand the number of people who actually slept). I have run many of these in my years of ministry in different churches. They all have had different results, and were with (obviously) different teens in different situations with different personalities. And honestly, this was probably the easiest one that I have ever supervised.  Here are some of the things that I took from this one (and previous ones) that could be beneficial to you in your ministry.

  • Make sure that you have enough adults. An acceptable ratio is 10 students to one adult. An ideal ratio is 5 students to one adult.
  • Plan many activities/options even if you do not use them all. While you do not want to over-program, you do not want to get to 3am and realize that there is nothing left to do. We did not have this problem.
  • Post schedules. This will allow everyone to know what is going on and at what time. Some great places to hang them up: bathroom doors and mirrors, wherever food is located, by video game systems… And if there are surprise elements, don’t label what is happening, simply leave it a mystery. (use ???? , Mystery or ultra-secret-surprise as a title).
  • Do not be a slave to the schedule. Remember that with an overnighter, schedules are fluid at best, and ignored at worst. We were off of our schedule by about 30 minutes throughout most of the Lock-In.
  • Don’t forget God. Many times we forget to put God first in our overnighters. Make sure to start strong with the Spirit, and finish just as strong. I cut out a big portion of our spiritual content toward the end because it was over their head, and I regret not reinforcing our challenge from the beginning as strongly as I could have. Don’t leave your overnighter with regrets, especially in the area of faith.
  • Take advantage of the community. Lock-Ins are forced community. Take advantage to talk to and get to know teens that are present. You may never have this type of an opportunity to forge relationships with students. And remember, 2am basketball can really open up some doors of conversation.

Got any more?