It is no secret that in youth ministry we have a tendency to push the boundaries and occasionally step on the toes of other church members. If you have been in youth ministry for a while you have probably had someone in your church upset at you for something you or someone in your ministry did. If haven’t had someone mad at you then you are either not having enough fun (just kidding!) or you are about to have someone mad at you soon. So, how do you deal with upset church people without creating even more problems, but resolving the issue?
Approach the situation with grace and mercy
Recently, I had a church member very upset with the youth ministry because on a Wednesday night we were making too much noise and disrupting her Bible study. Then a student accidentally opened the door and peeked in while they were doing their study. She was immediately very vocal about her feelings on the situation. Luckily for me I didn’t even have to deal with it because one of my leaders took care of the situation and told me about it later. (I love my volunteers!) But I started thinking about the situation and how quickly it could have turned into something even bigger had it not been handled so well.
Many times I haven’t handled those situations as well and they have resulted in either continuing problems, or bitterness in me toward that person. That is why the best way to approach angry church people is with grace and mercy.
People are messed up. They are messed up, and WE are messed up too. We are people too, therefore we are messed up. We need to remember that when dealing with angry church people, we are all sinners in need of grace. They need to experience grace and mercy from us just as much as we need to experience it at times as well.
Speak the truth in love
Don’t allow people’s emotions and feelings to get in the way of you fulfilling the mission and vision God has given you. What I mean is, when people are upset do what you can to fix it but do not bend on core issues (mission and vision). Stand firm on the truth, regardless of how upset they are, but do it in LOVE. I know, way easier said than done, but remember no one ‘wins’ when you set out to just ‘win’ the argument. Have a humble spirit while remaining true to what God has called you to do.
Call in back up
Deal with the situation on your own. Nobody in the office wants to deal with angry church people and your supervisor doesn’t need to be involved right away. In fact, they want to know that you can deal with things on your own.
BUT do inform them of what is going on so they are in the loop. For your supervisor the only thing worse than dealing with angry church people is being blindsided by an issue they weren’t informed about. Let them know the situation and what you have done to handle it. This will also give them what they need to have your back if it gets to that point.
If the situation gets to a point where you are not getting anywhere and they are still angry you may need to get some help from your supervisor, a board member, or someone else in your church. That is why it is important to keep them in the loop prior to their interaction with that person.
Dealing with angry church people is the worst! Nobody likes it, but you will have to deal with them at some point. Remember approach the situation with grace and mercy, speak the truth in love, and if you need to call in someone else to help with the situation.