I offered to just buy the coffee table from the host home family. 

Why, you ask? Because one of the small group members managed to discreetly carve his initials in it during our short stay in their home that night. When we went for snacks, he went to town.

We needed small group volunteers so desperately I asked the senior pastor to work it into his message. Do you know how many new volunteers we got that Sunday? One. But after the background check … zero.

There’s “that one kid” in my youth group, sometimes I think I have a whole youth group full of them. That one kid who constantly farts during prayer. Giggles every time there’s even something with the least bit of junior high innuendo. Constantly redirects each conversation to his sick cat. When it comes time for prayer requests forgets to mention his cat.

I love to run milk and cookies to each small group at least once a year. Just a little drop in surprise to encourage the home and give them a little treat. It was so fun and everyone loved it! Until a bunch of the kids got sick because I hadn’t factored in the lactose free, gluten free crowd. Next year, I’m just bringing everyone a box of raisins.

The video clip we used from Tommy Boy was debatable in the first place, I’ll give you that. But when the intern that trimmed the footage accidentally let it go too long, our students were introduced to some new words their parents weren’t excited for them to learn. Is resignation with one “s” or two?

One of our small group leaders who was in college thought it would be fun to take some boudoir pictures. If you don’t know what boudoir pictures are … don’t Google it! Just know that if one of your 20-something volunteers thinks it is OK to do that, and posts them on Instagram, then they probably shouldn’t be volunteering in your youth ministry.

Small groups are messy. Any time you get in the mess with students some of that mess is going to get on you. But they’re SO worth it. So this week, as you serve students in small groups … as you sand down the coffee table or write an apology letter for that video clip, as you scour the store shelves for cookies that taste like tree bark and almond milk, as you do your best to recruit and train qualified volunteers … know they are worth it. That life change happens there on a weekly basis. That these students have no idea just how good they have it.

Serve your small groups faithfully this week. They are SO worth it.

And Lord, please help that one kid’s cat to feel better. Amen.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of Youth Worker Journal edition. Check them out here.