As an associate pastor that works with teenagers every few months I am forced by begging teenagers to endure another lock-in. In case you are not familiar with a lock-in it’s a horrible concept for adult leaders. You are trapped in a room with teenagers for around 12 hours during a time when even roosters and my grandmother would be sleeping. During this twelve hours you hang out with teens, play games, chat, eat lots of pizza, and drink lots of Mountain Dew, and usually break something.
I loved them when I first began helping out with youth groups. I started loving them a little less when I became responsible for what they broke. Now that I’m thirty and have two little children of my own, I must humbly confess that I’d rather be sleeping than playing GROG at 3:30 in the morning.
As I am finishing up the details for tonight’s lock-in I find myself wondering whether or not Jesus would have a lock-in. I know that in the first century it would have just been weird to have gathered with a group of young adults (there weren’t teenagers back then) to play hide and seek in the dark. And part of me wants to say that isn’t there more taxing matter that Jesus would have concerned himself with? Would he really have played chubby bunny with a group of poorly showered seventh grade boys?
But as I think through it a little more I think maybe Jesus would have led a lock-in for teenagers. Having fun is part of being human. It appears from the Pharisees accusation against him that Jesus was not against a good party. From reading his parables and such one gets the idea that Jesus was quite enjoyable to be around. Perhaps some would consider this sacrilegious but I could almost picture Jesus playing that game where you put Alka-seltzer in your mouth and watch it fizz all over the place.
On the other hand I don’t really see Jesus doing a ton of things “just to be cool” and to show teenagers that church can be fun. I don’t really see Jesus being jovial for the sake of being jovial. Part of me wants to say that a lock-in would be way beneath Jesus and he’d be having a 30-hour famine instead. Maybe so.
Though it is pretty much impossible with questions like these to really say “what Jesus would do”, I have come to the conclusion that he would lead a youth lock-in. Mostly because he loved people. Lock-ins are a tremendous way to build relationships with teenagers. Most of these teens are hurting and really need grace.
What better way to show teenagers that you really care for them than to enter their world a little, have a great time with them, love them, build relationships, and share the love of Christ with them? Lock-ins are an opportunity to show grace and deepen relationships.
If the purpose of your lock-in is to get a ton of kids to come to church for the fun of it, slip the gospel in the back door, and grow your program then I don’t know that Jesus would have signed up as a volunteer. But if your purpose for having a lock-in is to have fun with teenagers, build relationships, give grace, and share the love of Christ then I could really see Jesus joining in on a spam eating contest.
Am I totally off my rocker here? What do you think?
P.S. I know that chubby bunny is dangerous and a chocking hazard and we don’t play it. I also don’t play Sardines with teenagers because that is just flat out dumb.