Home Youth Leaders 5 Steps to a Youth Lock-in That’s Perfect for a Small Group

5 Steps to a Youth Lock-in That’s Perfect for a Small Group

7 a.m. PICKUP

If pickup is any later than 7 a.m., early-bird kids will begin rising and be crabby. And the ones who stayed up all night are ready to crash and need to go!

How to keep a youth lock-in low-budget and affordable:

I’m including our budget for reference, but you can do this event for less. The only food we provide is Breakfast at Midnight. We ask kids to bring snacks to share. It’s on the flyer and in all the communications. We also ask the kids and volunteers to bring their own Nerf guns; we provide all bullets. (We have a stash of extra equipment at church, if needed.)

We spend $100 to $200 on our youth lock-in and usually have about 20 attendees. Again, everything listed here is optional.

  • Swarm lights: $40. We rent two from Guitar Center. Colored lights dance around the dark to the beat of our Nerf music. It makes the environment super fun, and kids love it.
  • Extra Nerf guns, bullets, balls, birdies, etc.: $40 to $50 (Over the years, we’ve purchased church-owned Nerf guns and game supplies.)
  • Glow-in-the-dark necklaces: $15 (to identify Nerf teams by color in the dark)
  • Dollar-store prizes: $15 (kids get goofy prizes for our lip-sync battles and other competitions)
  • Breakfast food: $50 (eggs, sausage, burrito shells, toppings, drinks)

Can a smaller church really pull off a great youth lock-in with fewer than 15 kids?

Yes, you really can! I know because we’ve done it. Keep in mind that kids really don’t need more entertainment these days. Churches can’t compete with $500 video games and concert tickets. We just need to offer what we have: relationships, significance and truth.

Bring the kids in with a night of fun. Offer relationships. Learn their names, their hopes, their dreams, their gifts, their pains. Then offer them your awesome community and God’s truth.

This article originally appeared here.

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Laurie Acker is a ministry leader and pastor’s wife in sunny Arizona. She learned pretty quickly that small church ministry can leave you exhausted and deflated, especially when you’re using resources that were never designed for small churches! After 30+ years in ministry, including children, youth, women, and worship, Laurie’s having fun helping others in small churches go from frustrated to effective with tools and strategies that work in small churches. Since 2019, she’s encouraged thousands of women in her free Facebook community for small churches, founded The Creative Little Church website full of resources for small churches, and runs Small Church Summits, where she hosts online conferences just for small church ministry. Connect with Laurie at The Creative Little Church