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Children’s Ministry: How to Respond to Angry People

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Children’s ministry is normally a happy, encouraging and fun place to be. But there are times when people get upset. Volunteers get upset. Parents get upset. Staff members get upset. You are faced with angry people.

Often these outbursts will catch you off guard.

A parent forgets their security tag and then throws a fit because he or she has to go to guest services for pick-up clearance.

A staff member doesn’t agree with something you are doing or did and they tell you all about it in an elevated encounter.  What starts out as a civil conversation can turn ugly if you don’t know what to do.

A volunteer is complaining to other volunteers about something they don’t like.  When you try to sit down and talk with them about it, the situation quickly escalates and before you know it, he or she is yelling at you.

Think these types of situations won’t happen to you?  Think again.  If you have been serving any amount of time, you’ve probably faced this or something else similar.

So when this happens, what should you do?  If you don’t have a plan ahead of time, it probably won’t be a very good situation.

You see, as a leader you need to already know how you will respond in these type of situations. It’s going to happen to you, sooner or later.

Dealing with an angry person is not easy.  Especially if it’s a sudden outburst that catches you off guard.  But it can go better if you have a strategy ahead of time.  Let me help you with a plan.  Here are some key steps that will help you properly respond to people who are angry and are telling you about it in a tense mood.

How to Respond to Angry People

1. Stay calm.

Don’t lose your cool.  Our natural response is to fight back. Don’t. Instead, take some deep breaths and gather your thoughts.

2. Take it down a level.

Resist the temptation to fight back. If you match the person’s voice level, it can inflame the situation even more. Instead, drop your voice level down several measures.

3. Don’t take it personally.

Most of the time, the person is angry about a failure in your system, personnel or policy.

4. Listen carefully to what they are saying.

Most people just want to be heard. Angry people want someone they can vent to. Listen without talking. Listen without strategizing what you are going to say as soon as they are done. Repeat back what they said.
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Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)