The following article was shared with us by Director of Christian Education (DCE) Intern Kendra McNatt. Kendra serves at Trinity Lutheran Church in Frankfurt, Germany. Trinity is an English-speaking congregation supported by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Kendra is serving her DCE Internship at Trinity. You can learn more about Kendra by reading her Missionary Profile.
On the evening of 7 March, a dozen or so teenagers walked through the doors of Trinity Lutheran Church in Frankfurt, carrying sleeping bags, pillows, and snacks, ready for a night of sleepless fun and worship. It was lock-in time.
I love lock-ins. If you’ve never heard of this youth group phenomenon, here’s how it works: youth and their adult leaders are “locked in” the church building for an event that lasts from evening through the next morning. Every lock-in looks different but there are usually games, some element of intentional Jesus time (i.e. worship or Bible study), lots of junk food, too much caffeine, and little or no sleep. Tell people you’re doing a lock-in and they either look at you with pity or treat you like you’re certifiably crazy. Why on earth would any self-respecting adult voluntarily participate in such a thing?
Here’s why: You see a different side of a person at 2 a.m. I say that with a little bit of jest and a lot of truth. When youth have a chance to hang out together in one building for an extended period of time, playing crazy games designed to break down personal barriers and discussing their faith in safe and open environments, they learn things about themselves and their peers. They become comfortable being with each other. They form a community with other Christians.
We are designed to be relational creatures. God didn’t just create Adam and leave him in the garden. He also created Eve. Study after study shows that teenagers are particularly in need of and influenced by the relationships they form at this point in their lives. And so, we, as a church, seek to provide our students with opportunities to build relationships on the solid foundation of Christ.
And so that night we ate pizza, played “Duck, Duck, Anything” (just like “Duck, Duck, Goose” but with a twist) and Fishbowl, explored what it means to have our identity given to us by God, scared each other silly during Sardines (sort of like reverse hide-and-seek in the dark), worshipped together, and watched The Avengers. We enjoyed being in a community based on and surrounded by the love of our Savior.