Conflict in Youth Ministry

During my years working in youth ministry, I have come to have a certain disdain for other youth pastors. Sometimes it is their look… trying to look cool while obviosly looking odd to the rest of society. Sometimes it is their attitude… either 1) I am irresponsible and that is why I hang with youth; or 2) I am too cool for church even though I work in one. Sometimes, usually most of the time, it is their whining– not enough students, too many hours, parents, pastors, elders, etc. Now this isn’t to say that I don’t have an occasional fit of whining myself. However, what I do know is that the conflict that comes from working with these groups ultimately has the capability of building us as leaders and our ministries. For example, a few years back we had a conflict regarding an upcoming mission trip. Several people were questioning a decision that I made regarding the trip. In response, I became much more organized, got all of my ducks in a row, and made a communication blitz. I created a case for the decision I made and in the process signed on board all of the parents and leaders of the church. The conflict was created because I did not supply enough information to ease the fears of others that so easily rises when a leadership gap is created. I had created the gap by not supplying the needed information. I have learned much about youth ministry from this experience. Now when I am faced with a conflict, even though I don’t always enjoy it, I do see it as a challenge… and in the process I create a stronger youth ministry. The fires of conflict do in fact refine us and make us stronger. I do occasionly whine; however, I rarely find other youth pastors willing to look at the conflicts as ways of building their ministries. This is a needed art in church and in society.

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