How to Fire an Adult Volunteer
Many of us have faced situations where we’ve asked how to fire an adult volunteer. But beneath the surface, this thought may also cross our minds: “He’s a volunteer, you can’t fire him!”
Part of a shepherd’s role is to protect the church, and, as a student minister, protecting students is first priority. Some problems—for example, any issue that challenges a student’s safety—require immediate removal from the team. But most of our problems with volunteers require more delicacy. These issues require a process to either remove the team member or help them grow and improve as a team member.
“When an adult volunteer becomes toxic to the team or to the ministry we must step in as leaders and deal with the issue before it gets worse or causes more damage.”
Before we choose to fire an adult volunteer, I think this verse is a good reminder of how we are to be:
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16 (NLT)
When an adult volunteer becomes toxic to the team or to the ministry we must step in as leaders and deal with the issue before it gets worse or causes more damage. But how do we do it?
Here are four suggestions for how to fire an adult volunteer:
1. Communicate with God.
Leadership requires great wisdom. When we are considering firing an adult volunteer (a person who is an active member of our church) we must deal with the issue with as much wisdom as we can. Wisdom comes from God, so bathe this process in prayer before proceeding.
2. Communicate with Leadership.
Let your leadership—the people you answer to—know that you are going to have a difficult meeting with a volunteer. Explain to them the details of the situation and the reasoning behind your decision. Allow your leadership to give any advice or input they might have offer.
3. Communicate with Grace
First off, never communicate with the volunteer about the issue by using email or text; have the tough conversation. No one likes confrontation (we don’t wake up in the morning hoping we get to confront someone), but you simply cannot expect a clear message of grace and wisdom to come across without having a face-to-face meeting.
Approach the meeting with the mindset that you would like to—if possible—keep the volunteer on the team. Be willing to hear what may be happening in their lives; people make mistakes. Let the problem determine if the volunteer can continue to serve on the student ministry team or if you do, in fact, need to fire this particular adult volunteer.
4. Communicate Clear Expectations
Most issues with volunteers could be avoided by setting clear expectations for new volunteers. For our team, we came up with our list of expectations at our annual student ministry team retreat. We listed the expectations and agreed to them as a team. Now, when a new volunteer joins the team, they sign two copies of the list of expectations (one for them to keep and one to go on file). If there are issues in the future, this clear list of expectations makes it easier to define how the volunteer isn’t meeting the standard.
Example: One of expectations is dependability. We believe, as a team, that our students need adult leaders in their lives who are consistently present at youth group and dependable when it comes to serving and leading. When a leader becomes inconsistent, we have a caring conversation and then go from there. As a result, we’ve seen several leaders rise to meet that expectation. We’ve also seen leaders step down from the team.
When handled with care and grace, the firing an adult volunteer can seem like more of a guiding process. Help them find their way off the team and to a new ministry that fits their gifting and passion.
Curious how other areas of your ministry are doing? Take the Intentional Youth Ministry Assessment.
See more from Andy at: https://www.andylawrenson.com/.
About the Author
Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member. Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about… Read More