You can pick your friends…

There was, admittedly, some initial hesitation in proposing a combined youth/parent lock-in, but as I watched 5 adults slowly dancing around our Senior Pastor – who was wrapped up in a sleeping bag – gently showering him in colorful feathers – all to the sound of an extremely cheesy version of Kumbaya playing softly in the background, all of my misgivings melted away. Regrettably, this was also the point in the evening where my camera died.

The night of the youth/parent lock-in, however, was not all fun and games – mostly fun and games – but not all fun and games. Here’s a rundown of our evening and the next morning.

The night began with some fun and games – imagine that – and then we split up into three different groups to plan our worship service for the next morning. Each group was tasked with putting together and leading a song, a prayer, and worship session about family.

  • Group 1 put together a great presentation about how even though some of our family members are not always physically nearby – they affect our lives in so many positive ways and there is always a part of them that stays with us.
  • Group 2 was funny to watch as they completely expected Michael to lead everything since he’s the Senior Pastor! Needless to say, he was a great leader in that group and certainly didn’t do all of the work for them. They ultimately put together a great moment where they each talked about the unconditional love and acts of kindness that we receive from our family members
  • Group 3 – Had a bit of a bumpy start as they struggled to find any positive examples of family in the bible. Abraham and Isaac – EESH! Cain and Able – OUCH! Lot offering up his daughters! Esau and Jacob! In the end we recognized that the bible provides us with a somewhat realistic view of familial dysfunction. Each of us is imperfect and will always fall short in showing the same love that we receive from God.  Being part of family can be, and often is, a difficult thing. Thankfully, we have a wonderful loving Father in heaven that can, and always does, provide us with endless grace and love.

After worship planning we put together and decorated the lanterns that were on display in the Sanctuary this past Sunday. While we were decorating the lanterns we each shared stories of our family traditions, some difficulties that relate to our position in our families, and some our favorite things about our family members who were with us that evening. Once we completed our lanterns, we took them out and lit them on the steps of the church. Each lantern was decorated with some of our stories, words of encouragement, and even our personal struggles. It was our hope that the people passing by would see our lanterns, read our messages, and find comfort, encouragement, and a relatable story.

Following our lantern time we spent a good hour and half engaged in a sardines marathon. For those of you who have never played sardines let me assure you that it’s not an eating contest! Sardines is a game where a partner group goes to hide somewhere in the church, and it’s the other partner groups’ job to find the hiding pair and then join them in their hiding spot – packing in tight together like sardines – until everyone has found them. This is all done in the dark and no one is allowed to use their phone lights or turn on any lights in the church. The adults kept saying that they had the best places to hide, but were never part of a winning group – so we might have to give them a chance to hide at another lock-in!

At around 11:00 p.m. we spent some time back in the bible discussing the importance of the various genealogical references (Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles, Matthew 1, etc.) and how your family history was used to help identify who you were, what you did, what your were like, and where you were from. This was followed by Super-Secret-Fun-Time otherwise known as Kids vs. Parents! This was definitely one of the highlights of the evening and I have to hand it to the parents here because it was way past all of their bedtimes but they all did a great job with the skits, challenges, and finally – trivia! I don’t remember the final question but it may have been something about the legitimacy of Owl Cafes – where people can get a cup of coffee and pet live owls or it may have been about the legality of Kentucky’s bathing laws (everyone must take a bath at least once per year)! Our evening started to wind down after this and finally wrapped up with a few more rounds of sardines and a movie.

The next morning began with a breakfast of waffles and sausage biscuits, some quiet time with God in the sanctuary, and then we were off to worship. We hopped in the cars and made our way over to the Monticello Trails at the base of Carter Mountain. A few other parents joined and/or rejoined our group and we made our way up the short distance to the outdoor amphitheater where each group led us in their worship sessions!

All-in-all I would say a great time was had by everyone. I really appreciated the help and support of all the participating parents and it was great to see the youth interacting and guiding their parents through the norms of our lock-in environment. I can totally see this youth/parent lock-in becoming an annual event!

-Phil

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