The Day We Got Cussed Out at Church ~ RELEVANT CHILDREN’S MINISTRY


Yes. You read the title correctly. We recently got cussed out at church. An angry mother let us have it.  

It had to do with a lost name tag. Believer it or not.

Parents got upset because of some critical mistakes we made as a team.   

What should you do when you are faced with an angry parent or guardian?

What should you say?

What kind of attitude should you have?

Here are some guidelines we follow when faced with an angry parent or guardian.

Remember that many times you are seeing the surface symptoms of deeper issues going on in their life.
Hurt people hurt. People who are stressed can have a short fuse. The
anger they are expressing toward you may really not be about you or the
Children’s Ministry. You may be an outlet where they can vent their
anger about a deeper issue. The mom who explodes at the check-in line
may be a single mom who is trying to raise three preschoolers by
herself. The dad who yells at a volunteer may have just lost his job and
doesn’t know how he is going to take care of his family. Looking beyond
the anger to see the hurt will help you enter the situation with
empathy instead of defensiveness.

If you’re in a crowd, move to a private, quieter place. This helps alleviate some of the pressure that has built up. It also changes it from being a “scene” to a sensible discussion.

Lower the decibel level.  If you’re like me, my human nature
wants to respond by matching their tone or even overriding it. But that
is not the wise thing to do. Remember Proverbs 15:1? It says, “A soft
answer turns away wrath, but a harsh response makes tempers flare.” If
the parent is talking in a loud, angry tone or is even to the point of
shouting, do not match their tone or decibel level. Instead talk in a
quieter, softer voice. It will eventually bring their level down as

Zip it up and listen up. Most of the time, the parent just wants
to be heard. They want to know that you care and are genuinely
interested in their concerns. Instead of arguing, let them know you are
there to listen. And…don’t say what you are thinking. If they are way
off base or misguided in their concerns, the temptation is to set them
straight…to tell them off. But that will only widen the gap. Pride
tells someone off. Humility listens.

Use silent pauses. As they vent, pause for a few seconds before
you respond. This helps you lead by example instead of emotion. And if
they are so angry that they are zoned out, this will also bring them
back to earth.

Use the word “let’s” instead of “you.” This technique is very effective in moving the situation from a battle to a collaboration.

Rehearse back to them what they said. This will show that you listened and truly want to bring resolution.

Ask open ended questions that they can respond “yes” to. The word “yes” has a calming effect.

Brainstorm options with them. Ask how they think the situation
can be resolved. Again, this moves you from battling to collaboration.
Leave the situation with action steps or possible solutions.

Thank them for their concerns. This shows you value them as a person.

Apologize even if it’s not your fault. Pride looks for an apology. Humility gives an apology. Pride looks for victory. Humility looks for resolution.

Follow up with them. Let them know about any steps that were
taken to resolve the issue. At times, a card, flowers, or gift
certificate is a great touch. Kindness dissolves conflict.

It’s never easy when anger suddenly surfaces. It takes patience and practice to handle it well. 

Do you have my book “Lead Well in Children’s Ministry?”  It has over 300 pages of helpful ministry tips.  You can purchase it at this link.


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