I’m a middle school pastor and we have our small groups meet on Wednesday nights during the school year. Every couple of months they have an “Unplugged” night where they skip the study and do something the group votes on instead.

I love these nights because it lets students own their group, encourages them to invite friends, and helps them get to hang with their leader in a different setting. We have small groups meet on campus, but for Unplugged, we tell groups it’s totally cool to get off campus and do something fun.

Thus begins my night.

Two groups were meeting on campus: 6th girls and 8th guys. Both watching movies in separate rooms. 

6th girls are set: leader is present, movie is picked, food is ready.

8th guys are not. Leader isn’t here (nor is his co-leader OR the dad who was supposed to come and hang with the group). Movie isn’t picked. Food is not here yet (pizza place says it’ll be here ‘later’). After texting the dad who was supposed to come (“Oh yeah! I’m having dinner with my wife!”), and grabbing a movie out of the student ministry pile (The Mighty Ducks), I grab a high school leader to sit in so I can go visit the other groups around town.

Getting into my car, a parent rolls up with a 7th grade guy (not their student). “Can he have a ride? I forgot it was Unplugged and brought him here.” This is only the fourth person in the last hour who did not get the two email reminders, pick up the bulletin, read the Facebook post, or see the Instagram about Unplugged night.

Sure, I say, but he’ll need to arrange a ride home. “Oh….” That’s right, the student pastor isn’t always a taxi. Mom is called and a ride home is worked out. We drive to Laser Tag where his group is and have some deep conversation about Gundam models along the way (this student’s favorite topic by far). I drop him off, say hey to the group, and drive to the next location.

7th girls are eating ice cream sundaes with toppings. By the time I arrive, all that’s left are the toppings. No problem. I eat some M&M’s and love every bite. They’re about to start playing DDR on the xbox when the leader confesses she doesn’t know how to turn it on. The students chime in to help and I make fun of the leader (just a bit). The xbox is still not working. I see that the 7th grade girl who “knew how to work it” had put the game into the DVD player. 

Next group.

8th grade girls are up. Since its San Antonio, they’ve had a pool party at one of the girl’s houses and the weather is actually about right. Volleyball is also being played in a circle. They’re also eating pizza and s’mores . Like a student ministry champ, I indulge. That’s when I hear the glass shatter. The volleyball has made contact with the window to the master bedroom. In a moment of unity, the entire group blames the one girl who served it (not the other two who dodged out of the way when it came to them). The host home is gracious and say there was already a crack in the window anyway. I take pictures for my boss and then head to the next group.

6th guys. They are in a trampoline place we’ve been to several times before. Wall to wall jumping 6th grade guys, so their natural habitat. I walk inside the building just in time to watch a kid walk out of the trampoline park with his hand on his head, covered in blood. He apparently missed the giant foam pit when he jumped and hit the floor instead. His dad had come to pick him up and was talking with him as he made his way to a couch. Fortunately, dad is cool and says they live next to a doctor, so they’ll just go home and check it out (I make sure he has my number, just in case). All the parents arrive and pick up everyone else.

I finally head back to campus after a pretty long night. The 6th grade girls have cleaned up and are finished with their movie. Apparently, the 8th grade guys rioted and turned off the Mighty Ducks after 20 minutes, then goofed off for the rest of the night.

The dad never showed.

Ah, student ministry.

I love my job.


Ronald is a Middle School pastor in San Antonio, TX and a DYM Author. Check his resource out here!