Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Pain You Can Prevent!

Tension, conflict, disagreements, manipulation, etc.  Sounds like I am describing a secular workplace that is in need of some serious help and intervention.  I am actually describing what many church staff will experience in ministry on a weekly basis.  More times than not, we create our own problems and "invite" pain into our ministry and life (stay with me).

There is a toll that is taken over a period of time when those people you pray for and reach out to are challenging and questioning your (or one of the staff's) leadership ability.  It is a sad fact, but often these are also the people who have been in the church the longest and have "invested" the most.  They have a group of people who they will rally and add support to their cause. They might call a special meeting; talk with the pastor or even show up to address the board.

It is during these times that a pastor and staff should have their "ducks in a row" so they have the ability to share the whys and what's that seem to be at the core of the questions and tension.  Many times a meeting will resolve some of the tension; “letting it go” or ignoring it never resolves conflict.  I have faced many conflicts in the last 16+ years of my ministry and I am happy and feel blessed to say that almost all were resolved with great outcomes because of the directness that our ministry took in confronting and providing information with the individuals or groups.

People who have questions need to be respected, provided with clear answers and loved.  Uncertainty while being ignored just raises tension and has the making for major problems down the road. One way to avoid most problems is to be proactive instead of reactive.  While preparing for ministry events and programs ask yourself the following:

  • Have I given all the information necessary to prevent "simple" questions? (who, when, where, what, why, cost, how, deadline, etc.)
  • Have I given enough time for people to respond?
  • Do I have a contract in hand for items needed that I am renting or borrowing?
  • Have I communicated clearly to the parents and given them a contact for questions?
  • Do I have my volunteer leaders confirmed?  It is always a good idea to list the leaders going on trips that are out of town.

ALWAYS have a group of people who can help you plan, promote and proof what you are doing. Please don't use a group of high school or college students, use parents, their children are whom you are trying to reach and connect with.  Using parents might mean more constructive criticism and time, but it's worth it!

I don't believe people who have given their life to Jesus Christ intentionally or maliciously attack church staff.  I believe they are looking for answers.  Give them the information and answers they need before problems arise, by doing this you will find supporters and volunteers for the ministry area you lead.  

Great ministries are blessed… they are also envisioned, planned and prepared!

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