What I Do on Sunday Mornings

The spring after my sophomore year of college, I signed up to substitute teach in my hometown. I was busy planning my wedding, but I was also preparing for the monthly bills I knew would come with my new, grown-up life. Spending a few days as the cool college student come back to her old school seemed like a decent way to make a little money.

It was. Until the day I got called in to sub for the middle school music teacher.

I don’t remember much. My memories have been blessedly blurred until the only parts I truly remember are standing on a chair and yelling at the adolescent animals to please, for the love, BE QUIET – and then later declaring, “I will never, EVER teach middle school students again!”

{I guess this one is kind of the anti-fairy tale – a story of what I never, EVER wanted for my life!}

That vow has been pretty easy to keep, mainly because I did not become a teacher. And despite threatening to quit several difficult full-time jobs in exchange for the “easy” job of a substitute teacher, I never did that, either.

But nearly a year ago, I broke my 15-year avoidance of early adolescence. I volunteered to work with the middle school students who serve in our children’s ministry at church. AND I LOVE IT.

Every Sunday morning I go to church about 30 minutes early. I walk to the very back of our Kids City area to the high school choir room that we transform into Praise Parkway each week. This is where the K-5 kids have worship and a story before heading back to their separate rooms for small group time.

And not once, in 10 months, have I stood on a chair and hollered at a single kid to please, for the love, be quiet.

(To be completely transparent, though, there was one Sunday when I just about pulled out my hair after asking a handful of kids, kindly and then a little more firmly, to quit making shadow puppets in front of the projector, already!)

I work with two or three middle school students during each service – someone to run the PowerPoint slides (including music, videos and slides with the monthly memory verse), and someone to lead worship. I schedule my volunteers each week, put together the slides and show up each week to help them run the service.

Most importantly, I think, I simply spend time with the kids. We pray before each service after we’ve caught up and shared our weeks’ highs and lows. We joke around and tease each other and argue over just how many peppermints one 12-year-old can eat in an hour.

I think it makes a little difference in those kids’ lives. But I know it makes a big difference in my life. On paper, it’s just a few minutes of my week. A little time spent with some cool kids who are smart and funny and occasionally awkward and always committed to serving. No big deal. Significant only because I never thought I could enjoy working with kids – much less this particular age group – and, as it turns out, I really do.

But it’s more than that.

It’s a ministry to call my own, a place I know I belong every single Sunday morning. And it’s a reminder that God knows me – and His plans for me – better than I could ever imagine. So well that He can turn middle school students into my Sunday morning community and ministry of choice, despite my declaration to never, ever work with them again.

How has God changed how or where you love to serve or give back?

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8 Comments What I Do on Sunday Mornings

  1. Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout October 28, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I volunteered with the youth group when I was in law school, and I loved it. Yes, they were totally squirrelly, but they are really at an age where they’re figuring out who they want to be, and I love to watch that process (and attempt to play a tiny role in helping shape their decisions). I liked it about a million times better than teaching kindergarten Sunday School last summer, which really did make me want to tear my hair out almost every Sunday. Right not I’m not able to volunteer as much as I’d like since I’ve got my hands full with a new baby (and my husband is a pastor so I can’t pawn the kids off on him on Sunday mornings!)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 29, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Oh gosh. My daughter is in kindergarten, and while I adore her, I’m pretty sure a classroom full of her peers would drive me straight over the edge!!

  2. Tarissa Helms October 28, 2013 at 10:47 am


    In high school, I was always the girl who hung around with the guys. Boys were just so much easier. They didn’t gossip or cut me down to make themselves seem better. I never in a million years dreamed that God would call me to serve for a season in women’s ministry. But, He did and you know what? I liked it. Beneath our insecurities, women have tender hearts and a longing for connection.

    Enjoyed reading about how you spend your Sunday mornings. As far as I’m concerned, those who serve with middle school aged kiddos are storing up a little extra treasure in heaven! ;-)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 29, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Tarissa, that’s a great twist! I’ve always preferred guys over gals, too – and yet I work in women’s ministry, too. :)

  3. Andrea Nicole October 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I love this!! Middle schoolers are definitely a hard age but I’m sure your doing great at it! Good for you and keep it up!! :)

  4. JessieLeigh October 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I am a catechist for my church and I LOVE it, but that didn’t really surprise me. What’s funny to me is that, when I was in junior high, I volunteered in a nursing home as a service project and I HATED it. I found it completely miserable and I determined that was so NOT meant to work with old people. Fast forward 10-15 years and I was living in South Florida, managing customer service for a bank in Boca. And guess who my clientale was? Ha! The kicker? I loved those customers. I became their biggest champion and advocate and, to this day, I have a huge soft spot for the senior population. :)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect October 29, 2013 at 11:43 am

      It’s funny how our perspective on different age groups and types of people can change! Love that you developed a soft spot for seniors!

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