Kurt and Josh

One of the more common youth ministry challenges is dealing with a disappointed parent. You don’t have to be in youth ministry very long to have this experience; if you haven’t had this joyful experience…you will. And in some ways, it is exciting and encouraging when parents engage in their teenagers’ spiritual lives, even when that means they have taken issue with your ministry.

Don’t sweep it under the rug or ignore it! Here are a few steps to dealing with upset parents quickly and in a (hopefully) healthy manner.

Take a deep breath.

This isn’t the first time that a youth worker has had to deal with conflict or disappointment. All of the greats in God’s kingdom have had to deal with disappointment. You, too! God will use you and grow you through this experience.

Learn How to Deal With, Respond to, and Learn From Your Critics 


Once you regain your breath, start here. Ask God to free you of anxiety, arrogance, or defensiveness. Ask him for the right heart, and commit to responding wisely and slowly.

Seek council.

If you’re unsure how to handle the situation, ask for help! Too often youth workers rush this conversation or dismiss a serious issue in their attempt to get it over with. Take time to process the issue so you have some responses ready and some possible resolutions in hand.

Just do it.

You need to do this face-to-face. Game time. Own what part of it you need to own. Learn from all of it. Have the conversation, set the appointment. Find a neutral place, and try to have a non-defensive posture. Make sure 100% of the issue is raised and addressed—the worst thing is holding back 10% on either side and having to do this all over again in 2 weeks after it blows up behind the scenes again.

Master the art of “FEEL, FELT, FOUND.”
While it won’t work every time, this simple strategy is often quite effective.

“Mr. Morgansteinster, I can understand why you FEEL this way…”

“In fact, Mr. Morgansteinster, other parents have FELT the same way…”

“Here’s what we’ve FOUND…”

Learn How to Deal With, Respond to, and Learn From Your Critics 

Do the necessary follow-up.

When the meeting is over it isn’t over necessarily. Take the time afterward to process and then fix or address the problem. Do what you promised the parent. Not following up might be worse than the original disappointment!

Invite the parent into the future of your youth ministry.

One of the biggest and most overlooked opportunities in disappointment is the invitation to have the concerned party become your ally. When someone’s disappointment is resolved, it can become powerful to build your reputation or quell contagious people in the future. Work hard to build the relationship that was strained by disappointment.

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