5 Ways To Avoid Self Inflicted Conflict With Your Pastor

conflict in youth ministry leadership

Keeping with our theme of not shooting ourselves in the foot through self inflicted conflict., I share 5 ways to avoid conflict with your Pastor. In my naive days, I thought the youth ministry was my world, my silo, separate from other ministries. In reality, the only reason we have this full time, professional, role is because our boss, our pastor, signs those checks. I know, they could not do it unless God let them but I challenge you to get a bank to cash a check signed by God.  So, let’s try our best today  to remove ourselves from harming the relationship that could be the difference between success and failure.

1. Keep them in the loop

A lack of informations produces fear. Operating out of a fear and operating out of confidence make all the difference. Consider your pastors schedule

  • Hospital visits (that stuff you really don’t want to do)
  • Counseling sessions
  • Jail visits (hopefully not to any of your students or possibly you)
  • Sermon Prep

The list goes on. When something is going on that they NEED to know about but doesn’t , it could result in the knee-jerk expression of fear “Who’s in charge?” Then, they will have to exert that they are. Here are some ways to keep your pastor in the loop.

  • Add them to critical e-mail lists (adult leaders, parents newsletter, etc)
  • Tweet them when something changes
  • Give them your four month plan
  • Bring up changes in staff meeting
  • Keep your calendar online and send them a link
  • Post it to their door
  • Make sure their secretary has the information.

Another way to keep your pastor in the loop is invite him to switch pulpits. Let them do your service and you do his. This way they can see the good you are doing and give them a chance to connect with students.

Whatever you do, keep your pastor informed about what is going on. This way they can brag on you :)

2. Tell them before they find out

We all have those moments of “should I tell or shouldn’t I?”. My vote: tell. What are some of the things you might want to tell your pastor before they find out?

  • An exchange of words with THAT parent
  • An exchange of words with THAT deacon or board member
  • And exchange of words with his wife or kids
  • When numbers are down. Plead a Mea Culpa and ask for help.
  • When you know you spent to much and the event sucked.
  • When a prominent student is no longer attending.
  • That thing that happened at that camp before they see it on YouTube.

There are a dozen more, but God will usually let us know when we should share. Take the hit early and work your way up from there.

3. Plan together

If your Turkey Bowl is conflicting with the Downtown outreach, that’s a problem. Staff members too often live separate live and engage in silo building. Do as much planning up front too avoid date conflicts.  I know some of this may be out of your control but try asking for 1 day a quarter to break out the calendars and everyone getting on the same page. The very fact, that the youth pastor is suggesting does 2 things 1) Signifies the apocalypse may be occurring and 2) It sends your stock sky high.

4. Think big picture not youth group

Like I said in the beginning, this is only our youth group as long as someone above us tells us it is. When I was working flipping houses for rent, someone gave some great advice, “Don’t fall in love with your property”. This statement simply says, it’s gonna get messed up; so don’t get obsessed with it. Solomon says it this way,

“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 2:17-19

My suggestions is to erase this phrase from your vocab “My ministry” or “My youth group”. This group only exists because there is a local church established. You may just want to stop saying “mine” all together.

Your best bet is to get on the same page with your Pastor. What is the overall mission of the church and how can you lead the youth to help them accomplish this and disciple your students at the same time. This can lead to a longer stay and a reputation of being a team player.

Trust me, for this radical, “fight the power” youth pastor of old to say this, seems quite strange, but I found it to be quite true.

5. Make their priorities your priorities

It should not take us long to figure this out. Just listen in staff meeting for a few weeks and write down key words. Some words may be

  • Budget (money is important, be thrifty)
  • Facilities (building is important, keep it clean)
  • Souls (evangelism is important, do more outreach)
  • Schedule ( time and organization is important, be on time, be organized)
  • Key names ( relationships are important, improve them)

Like I said, it does not take long to know what they think is important and the longer you take to make their priorities your priorities, you increase the chance of a conflict. I am not talking about kissing the ring, I am talking about decreasing the opportunity of conflict so God can bless your obedience and open doors to getting some of your dreams and ideas through.

Living The Dream - Paul Turner

Paul Turner, youth pastor and youth ministry coach/trainer/speakerI’ve written and re-written so may of these, I have decided to try and sum up my ministry in 6 words:

Loves To See Youth Pastors Succeed.

That’s what I’m about. It’s because of my 29 year love affair with God and my 20 year infatuation with youth ministry that I want help you and your youth ministry succeed. Sometimes it takes one good idea, sometimes a few. If I can help you through resources, speaking, or training please do not hesitate to call and ask questions 205-260-7229, tweet me at PaulTurnerToo, or catch me on Facebook.

I've always wanted to be a youth pastor and minster to teens at all levels. Youth pastors, along with camp counselors, have been my heroes. I have been ministering to students now for 20 years and started a free resource sight called The Disciple Project at www.thediscipleproject.net. Come by and say hello.

I live in Birmingham, AL. with my wife and thee great kids, two of which are teenagers.


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