[This post is a part of the Youth Ministry 101 series]
Without a doubt, there will be times in your ministry that you have to deal with some sort of conflict. The conflict may be within your volunteer staff, personally with another paid staff member, or even with your senior pastor. The way we respond to conflict in our ministry can be something that is damaging to the health of our student ministry or a great opportunity to model Christ to the other people involved in the conflict.
Thankfully when it comes to conflict, we don't have to rely on our own principles or strategies, but Jesus himself gives us a standard for how we should handle conflict.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." - Matthew 18:15-17
Deal With the Issue Head On
If there is some type of conflict in your ministry it must be dealt with head on. If it is somebody who volunteers for you, approach them so you can talk about the issue; the worst thing for the volunteer would be to let the problem build up and eventually come out in the context of conversations with other leaders or students. If there is conflict between you and another staff person in your ministry, deal with it right away and do so biblically.
Disagree Privately, Support Publicly
In the instances that you have a conflict with your boss how you respond to the disagreement is critical. It is both critical to your influence in the ministry and to the health of your local congregation. This could be a disagreement with the senior pastor or another staff person or, if you are a volunteer in the student ministry, with the lead youth worker. For the health of the ministry the best response is to make your disagreement known to the leader privately. Discuss the problem and work through it without gossiping about it to anyone who will listen. And not only bring up your problem, but as you move forward publicly continue to support the leader as we you talk with those you lead.
Photo Credit: sebastien.barre