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12 Hours of Chaos Known as a Lock-in

Salvations, re-commitments, powerful worship, blood on the wall leading into the sanctuary, a busted eye leading to a parent picking up a student to go get stitches, and a trail of blood on the sanctuary carpet…

Yes, each of those happened at my recent Back2School Lock-In. It was in the middle of the night (or early early morning–hard to tell) when my apprentice (my intern–apprentice just sounds more kung-fuie) comes up to me and tells me one of my leaders–who happens to be a nurse is cleaning up a student’s eye that busted open from the game we were playing. By the way, the game was lead by another leader who works in medicine as well. I went to my student to check on him and the next thing I see is this gaping hole above the dude’s eye!

We definitely have pictures of that for our youth room! He also left a trail of blood in the sanctuary leading out to the bathroom–I have never been more thankful for peroxide; not for his face, but for the carpet (good as new!). The student was fine and just like a teenager was showing it off and his mom was really cool as well. So with all that said, one might ask the question; “Why on earth would you continue to have lock-ins–especially with games played in the dark?!”

Here is my response to why I believe student ministries should still be doing these 12 hours of chaos:

  • Excellent way to connect with those who don’t attend a youth ministry

This gives you a great opportunity for outreach (evangelism). With lock-ins you gain people who wouldn’t normally set foot in your youth room walls. With this you get the opportunity to show them your facilities, leaders, and most importantly introduce them to the Gospel.

  • To build relationships with the students

When you have 12 hours (or however long you set it) with teenagers you are bound to build relationships. Those relationships can help your students grow and want to come back. When you build that relationship and add an effective follow-up this can help grow your youth ministry.

  • Spiritual Transformation

When you have a lock-in planned with the purpose of worship and evangelism, it can impact students dramatically. We planned our worship sessions around the theme of “Follow Me” and during the second worship session the students were deeply impacted. To make it short, we ended up worshiping for at least an hour and a half because of all the praying and decisions being made after the message. That’s what it’s all about!

  • Memories

Students love staying up all night doing crazy insane things you normally wouldn’t dare to do on a normal night. Through these type of events it can make lasting memories for students and great stories to tell! Not only will they be building relationships with you and your leaders but they will also be building relationships with each other.

Overall, I find these events valuable and effective if done properly. There are more reasons I could give but let’s keep this short! Let us know in the comments or shoot me a tweet of your lock-in experiences or more reasons to have these crazy events!

Thanks for serving students,


Planning an all-nighter? Check out dozens of awesome youth ministry games to keep them having fun the whole night!

4 thoughts on “12 Hours of Chaos Known as a Lock-in

  1. so, what was your schedule like for the 12 hour lockin?

    • It was packed! Food, worship, games, free time, etc. It was a good time. If you are wanting more specific shoot me a message on Twitter and we’ll connect! If you don’t have Twitter shoot me an email @!

  2. Annie Hoelzeman

    Want to know more about your lock-in please. Planning one soon and want to get some great ideas! Thanks!!

    Annie Hoelzeman

  3. Brittany McMahan

    Help my lock in is Next Weekend and Idk what all I am going to do. I have been to plenty but have never planned one myself. I am the new interm youth director. Any help would be great.
    Thank you,

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12 Hours of Chaos Known as a Lock-in

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