Showing off what binds us together... (whilst sleep deprived)
The annual Youth Lock-In. Unless you are a parent or carer of a teenager, or one of our heroic volunteer youth leaders, you are likely to be unaware that this event occurs at St Mark’s around this time of year.
The Lock-In, as the title suggests, is an event where young people come to be ‘locked in’ the church building between the hours of 8pm and 8am. Activities are put on throughout the night - and sleep is not one of them. They take a lot of planning, energy, volunteers and tidying up after. They also require the rest of weekend to put right a new found sleeping pattern. As I write this blog, I am days before this year’s event and have had more than one moment thinking; ‘Why on earth do we do this?’
Answer number one is because young people love them. They get to be together and they get an event almost entirely planned around having fun, typically without the oversight of their own parents.
This year the night will involve wide games, a campfire, mini olympics, late night worship, board games and a bake-off technical challenge. The evening is possible because of a few superhuman adult volunteers and a large team of student leaders that come back for it. They lead games whilst catching up, laughing and sharing life with each other. The Lock-In breaks down the boundaries of age and school year and allows us all to be one body together.
Answer number two, is that they are one of the greatest opportunities we have to open the doors and welcome friends to see the body of Christ - that is our youth group. It is hands down, the easiest event for young people to invite their friends too and for those who come to the youth groups less regularly to get involved in. As the night goes and sleep deprivation kicks in, deep conversations are shared and there is often a sense of togetherness that raises questions like: Who is this group? What is this bond they share?
That bond is much of what we have been speaking about at St Mark’s over the last month. As we’ve looked at the book of 1 John we’ve heard that when ‘we walk in the light’ (that is love) we automatically have fellowship with one another (1v7) – that is our bond, what binds us together – and it is attractive.
Similarly, at our ‘Weekender’, Richard Pennystan spoke to us about unity. He spoke of how the Church is called to show of the beauty of God in rich variety – that we have each been created uniquely with something to offer the church and world around us. He continued to give the example of the Church being like a diamond with many facets, each individual reflecting something of God’s character yet working as a whole – united to speak of the glory of God.
This is why we run events such as the Lock-In. We get to show those whom we invite this beautiful diamond – the Church, God’s young people united in their diversity, bound in love, showing off who God is to those who are looking.
The idea of being locked in church overnight with 30 young people might make your stomach turn, but for some of us, the opportunity to build positive relationships with young people will make our hearts pay attention. I have mentioned in a previous blog that my heart for mission revolves around helping people to belong, I believe there is immense power in this, especially for young people and I think that it is the vehicle for everything else we do as a church. This is what gives us permission to speak God’s truth into a person’s life.
We are in the initial stages of dreaming up a new youth project for the new year aimed at creating this sense of community for young people in the local area. We’d love those who have a heart for young people to get in touch, we wont ask you to do a Lock-In but we do want you to be involved if this interests you! (That includes those of you who will support us in prayer too!)