Here’s how our typical Wednesday night goes with our middle school small group following the full Vertical service: These young men slowly start to gather around our table off to one side in the sanctuary. After holding still for 30-45 minutes and listening to the sermon, the farthest thing from their minds is sitting down for an intense conversation about the message. Most of them are chewing candy or sipping pop, which at first seems like a terrible omen for things to come. Brad and I sit down with them and we talk about nothing in particular for 10-15 minutes. Then, randomly, almost as though they’ve been tapped on the shoulder by angel, one of them shares something personal or important to them, and out of that flows a depth of conversation like no other — the kind of depth I feel is missing in many adult conversations. We listen. And all too often, what they’re struggling with is something we failed with years ago. So we share what we learned in similar situations. Sometimes their issue is unlike anything we ever experienced, so we do our best to offer some direction. Our thoughts, of course, are guided by Christian beliefs and what we read in scripture. And then we pray together. I never really thought much about volunteering my time like this because my daughter is typically at Vertical too, taking part in the girls group across from us. But with all the insanity going on in our world right now, even if I didn’t have a child of my own involved, I’d find a way to be there for these young men. Every week, we are there for one another, in a safe place with other strong believers … at least for a little while. Before I started volunteering, I had no idea how far a 10-minute conversation could deliver a 10 year-old boy. Or a man not a day over 39 (😉).