VOICE OF THE YOUTH MINISTRY NATION POWERED BY Powered by simpleyouthministry.com

How to Defuse a Bomb

 —  October 1, 2013 — 5 Comments

For 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 it comes suddenly and unexpectedly.

thm_63263aYou 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 2-3 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 that 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 that 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 I often build trust and loyalty along the way.

Thanks for loving students,

Kurt

@kurtjohnston

nobody-church-ym-inline

Kurt Johnston

Kurt Johnston

Posts

Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

5 responses to How to Defuse a Bomb

  1. Great stuff… Thanks Kurt

  2. Sharon Hilliard October 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you Kurt! This is so true! Great advice for new youth leaders that are not equipped with experience in handling angry parents! Wish I had seen this 10 years ago!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How to Defuse a Bomb « iYouthPastor - October 1, 2013

    [...] How to Defuse a Bomb [...]

  2. How to Defuse a Youth Ministry Bomb. | Rivers of Hope - October 12, 2013

    [...] For the original article, visit morethandodgeball.com. [...]

  3. Random Recommended Readings | pecaspers: a Blog in transition - October 14, 2013

    [...] More Than Dodgeball – “How to Defuse a Bomb” [...]

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>