My kids just had a sleepover party. There has never been a party with a more misleading name. “Sleep” is simply a word attached to “party” that is designed to lull parents into hanging onto the slim hope that sometime during the next cycle of light and dark the group of kids will get quiet for a period longer than it takes to chew a mouthful of popcorn, nothing will be on fire, and a trip to the hospital is not eminent. And there’s the inevitable, “Please, can we stay together a little longer? Why don’t we all go to ________?” They fill in the blank with some place that they want to take their friends next in order to keep the sleeplessness going for as long as possible. If I sound testy, it’s because I haven’t slept.
On a brighter note, the morning after the “sleepover” my daughters and their friends went to church together. It was the place they wanted to take their friends next and prolong the party. It made me remember a phenomenon we heard about very early in the development of the Family Experience. When we first started FX (putting parents and kids in a room and connecting them to a strategy that could impact their spiritual lives in a way they could remember, celebrate, and easily live out), well, people started bringing in stories.
We had hoped we’d hear from parents who felt like they were better equipped to be the spiritual leaders in their home. And we did.
We hoped we would hear from kids about how much they wanted to come back to laugh, and sing, and play with us again. And we did.
What we didn’t expect is groups of kids showing up (sometimes in pajamas) directly from a “sleepover.” Kids were inviting their friends to their house, and then calling their parents and asking if they could keep the party going by attending another party for kids and parents. Families loved having a way to invite their friends to an experience they enjoyed and wanted to share (not to mention that it may have eternal consequences for the next generation).
Everyone who was producing the FX was surprised by how passionate the kids had become about the environment. We didn’t have a category for this idea, so we called it “sleepover evangelism.”
So, take a sip of coffee, grab a pad of paper, and with a clear head start making a list of ways you can make your Church experience something that people can’t wait to show their friends. It’s easy to lull ourselves into ministering to the people who are already attending. What makes us wake up and start thinking about the people who are still at the sleepover? How can we make our environments the place that people think about when they want to take their friends to a party?