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Addressing Conflict and Cliques in Youth Group Ministry


“You wouldn’t believe what he did to me…”
“I’m never talking to her again.”
“I hope that one kid isn’t on the trip. He’s weird.”

Perhaps you’ve heard statements like this from students in your youth group. Let’s face it: conflict is always going to be present when groups of people try to work together. Humans are sinful creatures, and managing group dynamics is never easy. Teenagers in High School and Middle School are dealing with a lot of social pressure. Remember, relational challenges can seem even greater when it comes to working with hormonal teenagers!

Dealing with drama, gossip, fights, and factions is unavoidable in youth ministry. So how do we best handle it? How much can or should we be involved in stressful situations? Is it our place to step in?  

We want the church to be a safe place, especially for teens. Adolescence is a tumultuous time already and it’s important for us to welcome students into youth groups, communicating to them that they are loved and accepted. Problems are inevitable, but we can help teens work through them and model appropriate conflict resolution. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” we read in Matthew (5:9). So how do we make the peace? How do we guide our youth toward resolution? Naturally, specifics will vary according to the nature of the situation, but there are some general guidelines we can remember when approaching conflict. Consider some tips on “dos” and “don’ts” of conflict management…

DON’T… What to avoid in dealing with youth ministry conflict

DO… What to pursue when student ministry conflicts

As youth leaders, we have great influence on the teens we interact with, sometimes in ways we don’t even recognize. The way that we do (or don’t) handle conflicts will stand out in memory for our students. We are bound to make mistakes, of course, and suffer imperfections of our own. Conflict is never easy, but is an avenue for “teachable moments” in ministry. The more we help teens learn to handle and resolve their issues, the better equipped they will be to do the same in adulthood. Let us place Christ first and pray for wisdom and guidance as we gently and lovingly support the relationships of our young people.

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