Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

team-conflict-progressFor most youth workers, few things in ministry are as dreaded as navigating conflict—especially when it comes in the form of an angry parent or frustrated volunteer and when it comes suddenly and unexpectedly.

You know the scenario: You’re hanging out in the youth room doing your youth pastor thing, and before you see it coming, he’s in your face. He’s on a mission. He’s got a few concerns, and he’s gonna share them with you right now. He has no desire to think about the timing. His agenda is the only one that matters. He’s a ticking time bomb, and time is running out.

Don’t panic—what looks like an explosion waiting to happen can usually be defused quite easily and turned into something positive. Here are steps I try to take in these types of scenarios to defuse the bomb.

1. Directly engage. It’s tempting to try to avoid the person, especially since you’ve got a program to run. But time bombs can’t be ignored. They demand the proper attention. I’ve learned the best thing to do is to proactively engage the person immediately. This lets the reasonable person know you’re concerned that he’s concerned about something, and it lets the unreasonable hothead know that you aren’t afraid to engage—that you won’t be bullied or intimidated.

2. Don’t get defensive. This isn’t the time to defend yourself. The truth of the matter is that most frustrated folks simply want to be heard. When you take a defensive posture, you reinforce their suspicions and concerns. However, when your first response is to acknowledge their concerns and listen to what they have to say, it shows them their concerns are important to you and things (usually) begin to cool down right away.

3. Delay the rest of the conversation. Chances are you won’t be able to address the entire issue in the two to three minutes you can afford to give this person before youth group, so don’t try. Instead suggest that you delay the rest of the conversation to a later time in the very near future. Invite them to coffee or lunch, and let them know you would welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation at that time.

This will do two things: It will give everybody time to cool down and think about the issue at hand, and it will communicate you’re taking their concern very seriously and want to address it as best you can.

I’ve learned over the years that trying to avoid frustrated, angry people almost always serves to make the situation worse. But when I’m willing to directly engage, when I don’t get defensive and when I offer to reconnect about it later, I not only defuse the bomb but also often build trust and loyalty along the way.

Kurt Johnston has been on staff at Saddleback Church since 1997 and currently leads the student ministry team. He is the founder of simplyjuniorhigh.com and has written numerous books, including Middle School Ministry Made Simple, and has created dozens of resources for youth workers.

For the original article, visit morethandodgeball.com.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Some of the toughest lessons reap the greatest rewards.

    10 Tough Lessons Every Pastor Should Remember in Ground-Shaking Trials

    One is that your suffering may turn out to be the highest compliment the Father ever gave you.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • These seven responses can get you on the right track.

    Responding Like Jesus When Your Church Kicks You Out

    It's a pain that many in the ministry have felt at least once and maybe more.

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders