Ministry Monday: My First Lock-in

Last week my friend Kenny Conley wrote about lock-ins 4 different times.  It made me think back to my first ever lock-in that I did at Fellowship Church.  I learned many things from that experience and I believe you can as well.

I was young, stupid, and just out of college.  I think that is the best person by they way to be a volunteer at a lock-in but maybe not the best person to lead the lock-in.  The lock-in was for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders with a big outreach push.  The plan was to take the kids off the church's campus across the highway on school buses to see a movie and then after the movie we were going to go to GameWorks.  After GameWors we would go back to the church and let everyone sleep on the floor at church.  We had 2 different large rooms where we were going to split the kids by gender for sleeping purposes.  Then in the morning right before parents came to pick up their child, we were going to have Krispy Kreme donuts to give the kids a little boost of sugar for the day.  I thought at most we would have 300 kids come to the event.  There was the whole plan.  In fact we did this plan more than once and it did work great by the third time.

So I open up registration for the event after talking to the theater about getting a whole theater by ourselves and setting up the time with Gameworks to have their whole facility as well.  I didn't want anyone else with our kids for security reasons.  This is a great idea if you have enough kids to do it.  The theater said that would be great because I was paying for a whole theater and GameWorks charges a per person rate but I had to guarantee them at least 150 kids.  I didn't think that was going to be a problem so here we go.  Registration was open for at least 4 weeks before the event.  It is a good idea to have at least  6 weeks but I can't remember exactly how long we had for this one.  All I know is at the time that registration was suppose to end I had about 250 kids signed up and enough volunteers to have a 10 kids to 1 adult ratio.  I was feeling really good about myself except I wanted to keep the registration open because I wanted to hit the 300 mark.  I also was on the phone all week long with people saying they wanted to come or bring a friend and wanted to register the night of the event. 

Registration the night of the event sounds like a very reasonable thing.  Especially if you haven't hit your numbers goal.  It is not always the best practice.  For one you can't always plan on the number of volunteers that you will need if you don't know the number of kids.  Second, the night of registrations seem to take forever for those trying to sign up because they are expecting to leave and be somewhere else quickly.  So even if it does only take 1 minute then it still seems like forever and lines kill your event. 

Here we are… It's the night of the event.  I have 2 school buses showing up to take the kids across the street.  It should take 2 trips with 250 kids and the volunteers.  I have volunteers showing up early to give them information about the night and to hand out schedules.  We have pick up tags and name tags all ready to go.  We have people at the door ready to greet.  I thought we were set.  I didn't plan to fail.

The first 250 kids showed up no problem.  It was the next 307 kids that threw me for a loop.  That's right.  We had 547 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade kids show up to a lock-in where only 250 we knew were coming.  As you can imagine the line for registration was a nightmare.  The line to drop your kid and all their stuff off in a room that was only built for 200 was a nightmare.  The volunteers faces who knew that they were now going to have 20 kids to keep up with instead of 10 kids where priceless nightmares.  Needless to say, but it was chaos.  Looking back, I can't believe parents left their kids with us. 

Well we stuffed 275 people and all of their stuff into rooms built for 200 to try and teach them a lesson about God.  That didn't go as planned because no one could sit down and it was really uncomfortable.  After the lesson it was time to go to the theater to watch a movie.  What should have been a process that took 30 minutes with 250 kids and given them time to get something at the concession stand took over 2 hours.  That means that the first kids who showed up to the theater had already eaten all of their snacks and had an hour to go.  Yes even the kid who decided to get the BIG pickle and stink up the rest of the place was done and wanting another.

We finally got done with the movie and was late to GameWorks but they worked with us.  Then it took another hour and a half to get all the kids back to church.  By the time we got back and kids were changed to sleep it was time to go get the donuts. 

Now of course I didn't order enough donuts either and had to wait for them to make more than double what I ordered.  Filling up my car with Krispy Kremes was an ordeal as well but it did smell good.

I got back just in time to hand donuts out and parents to show up.  Kids were everywhere.  It was a miracle that we didn't lose any kids that night.  It was a miracle that I kept my job after that night.  It was a miracle that we had any volunteers show up that night or the next day to help.  It is a night that I will never forget.

Posted via email from matt mckee’s posterous

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