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.


  1. Hey I am right on board with you concerning the "coolness" which is truly uncoolness of youth pastors.

    As for always learning youth ministry through the ebbs and flows of conflict, I certainly can relate. My philosophy of children's minsitry continues to move and grow through the conflicts I face with others and the lessons I learned.

    Good post, definitely things worth being said.

  2. That last sentence is priceless. It really does require a creative energy to find the lessons in conflict and turn them into materials that strengthen ministry. The greater conflict artist is, of course, the one who sees the opportunity to grow while in the midst of conflict and rejoices.

  3. You might think about how you build collegiality (or not in this case) with the youth pastors out there reading your blog.

    Snubbing them - however on target your assessment - doesn't get you very far, even among us non-tattooed, pierceless, goteeless, unashamedly "responsible" but still a kid at heart types out there.

  4. Interesting response Jack. Many of youth pastors I know did read the blog , agreed with it, and believed that it was really important, precisely because it was written by a fellow youth pastor. Besides, the primary emphasis of the article was on learning from conflict, not on putting other youth pastors down.

  5. sorry i didn't see your email here so i thought i'd just leave a comment.

    is there any chance you could change my link on your blog from cleave.blogs.com to pomomusings.com? thanks!