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Before You Fire A Volunteer

 —  January 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

I love my volunteers.  I have a great group of men and women who give so much of themselves to the students, myself, the church and God.  When I see them investing in the next generation I’m filled with joy.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a perfect streak when it comes to recruiting and keeping volunteers.    I’ve had a few people who are full out committed at first and then never show up to a single small group.  There have been grown ups who have said inappropriate things around the students because of carelessness.  And then there are the volunteers who are consistently late and showing up unprepared.  When this happens, something needs to be done.

Addressing a volunteer’s commitment and expectations can be awkward and painful.  Your mind says, “Get rid of them.” Your heart says, “I need them.”   And your stomach is in knots.  So what do you do?

Before you decide whether to can or keep that volunteer, try these options:

  • Reassign Them: It’s possible a volunteer is serving in the wrong ministry.  I’ve had large group ministers who should be small group leaders.  People who were better with kids than teens.  It happens all the time, someone responds to your invitation wanting to help you out not thinking, “Is this the right ministry for me?”  Before you reassign a volunteer make sure you help them discern their transition.  Walk with them through this journey so that they feel confident it isn’t about their lack of skill it’s just misplacement.
  • Give Them A Season Off: Even your volunteers need a vacation.  Unfortunately, they might not recognize the need so they overcommit and burn themselves out.  As a youth minister one of your main responsibilities is to oversee the health of your volunteers.  If they are acting slow, or frustrated discuss with them about taking a couple of weeks or months away from the ministry.  Be sure to check in with them during their Sabbatical.
  • Follow Up With A Review:  Reviews and evaluations are done in the professional working world and the same should be done in your ministry.  Reviews help the employer and employees reevaluate the position, productivity and  address any serious issues they might see.  Set-up a review process with volunteers who are struggling and you’ll find it easier to tackle the tougher issues before it’s too late.

Addressing volunteer concerns is never easy.  You grow with these men and women who have sacrificed much of their time to be with you; therefore, it becomes personal.  If addressing a minister about anything serious be sure to partner up.  If it’s with someone of the opposite sex make sure your partner is too.  In the end if you have to let them go, you know that you’ve given them plenty of chances and options.

How do you address minister problems?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)


Chris Wesley


One response to Before You Fire A Volunteer

  1. Chris,

    Great stuff as usual. I had to ask a person to step down because their character outside of meetings and study did not fall in line with our biblical principles. I cringed and probably dry-heaved 666 times but in the end they were gracious and understanding and eventually came back on the team. I know that is rare but it happened to me.



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