Navigating Negativity: Avoiding a Toxic Climate

Navigating Negativity: Avoiding a Toxic Climate

I remember one night I had six kids show up for junior high youth group.  That’s right, SIX KIDS. Normally, we’d have around 25-30, so six was pretty shocking. A few of my leaders were making negative comments about where all the kids were. Instead of dwelling on who wasn’t there, I decided this was a great chance to love on who was there, so we hopped in a few cars and took a special trip to McDonalds for a few ice cream cones.

There is one thing I’ve noticed about kids; they don’t really care how many others are there, as long as they know they are loved and valued by someone in the room. A youth ministry centered on negativity will have a toxic climate.  It will be difficult to grow past that, but youth ministries that celebrate even what seems like a total failure, will find joy in serving young people, because love is what drives them.

Ask yourself these all too important questions:

  1. Is my youth ministry surrounded by positive stories or negative ones?
  2. How is my attitude either positively or negatively affecting my ministry?
  3. How do I handle a negative/toxic attitude in one of my leaders or students?
  4. If nearly all of your kids were gone one night, how would you respond?

How you answer those questions deeply affects what kind of climate you create at your youth ministry. That’s right, the climate YOU create. You set the tone by how you lead, navigate negativity in leaders and students, and deal with what seems like disappointment. Learn to celebrate even what seems like a total failure, like six kids showing up at youth group or an outreach event that drew only a handful of kids. Sure, do some smart evaluation as to why only a few kids showed up, but don’t let negativity steal the joy that could be had for you and your students.

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