Two of the most incredible events that I’ve had the privilege to be a part of took place at my church the last two weeks. Summer is a tough time to corral elementary age kiddos into event driven programming. It sounds backwards, but the community where I live, many kids spend summers or portions of summers with grandparents or on several vacations. However, there became a growing need to link events together that carried on the highlights of camp, VBS, or any other high impact event. Thus God placed it on my heart to do a specific boys event and a specific girls event – both taking place on different nights, both being highly intentional.
The best part of lock-ins, at least from my memory, were the first three or four hours. After about 10:00 people get tired, bored, or a combination of the two. At our church, we held 3 hour lock-ins that were placed on a Thursday night in the summer, and man oh man were they successful. Perhaps not successful in the way you assume.
The boys lock-in was entirely western themed. Mechanical bull, shooting gallery, roasting marshmallows, a visit from mounted police, cowboy costumes, wild west grub – it was every bit an pioneering spirit event. The crux of the evening was encouraging the young men to live an adventurous life devoted to becoming more like Christ. We talked about Saul and his journey from hatred to love, and how he poured into the life of Timothy. The boys got the message, and they connected it to the theme.
The girls lock-in was quite the opposite. Dubbed “Glitz & Glamour” night, the girls came dressed in their very best, made bracelets, applied their own make-up, took turns in a photobooth, designed tiaras, made toilet paper fashion statements, played a fashionista scavenger hunt, and ate like princesses. Yet it was the “sweet smell of God’s aroma” that was the central theme, that is, God sees inner beauty. It was a sweet event unlike any other I’ve been a part of.
On their own, these events were very fun. They were exciting, relevant, perfectly timed, and well executed, but that’s not how we measured their success.
On both evenings older men and women (some in high school, others grandparents) served the 1st through 6th grade cross-section of our church in a way that they hadn’t had the opportunity to do in quite some time. We saw this, to some degree, at VBS where it was an all-hands-on-deck type of situation. However, this was much more one-on-one, personal, and likely more impactful. The desire to pour into the lives of someone much younger than yourself, and model for them what it means to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10) was the most successful thing we could have done this summer.
I love still photographs because they allow you time to pause, and briefly contemplate what’s going on in the frame. I’ve stumbled upon frame after frame after frame of photos from these two lock-ins, and the backstory of investment going on whithin them makes my heart joyful. It also has caused me to rethink the other opportunities that might place older Godly men and women in the company of young children. It’s worth it, trust me.