youth ministry, youth worker, volunteer

Leading Mean Volunteers

By Doug Franklin March 11, 2013

I was invited to lead a training event for a group of youth ministry volunteers. Before the training event the youth pastor pulled me aside and told the that one of the volunteers was really mean. So mean that the other volunteers don’t talk with her and the students ran every time she was around. I asked the youth pastor why he hadn’t removed her from the team. His answers was, “I’m scared.” She had been at the church a long time and even the senior pastor had grown tired of dealing with her. The youth pastor had tried to get other teams at the church to invite her to join them and move her away from youth ministry but no one wanted her. Over the course of the training I talked with her numerous times basically because no one else would. So what do you do as the leader when you face this type of volunteer?

1. Confront their behavior
This is often the step we miss. Most of the time we just want to get rid of them right away, so we look for ways to move them to another ministry. Please don’t do this; this unhappy person just becomes someone else’s problem. Confront them and share with them how their behavior is mean and devious. Offer to mentor them through the process of healing. Explain that they will need to apologize to people and ask for forgiveness. Coach them, care for them and walk with them through the process. If they don’t want to change, quickly move them out of the ministry. Ask adults in your ministry and in your church to help you with this process.

2. Form a team
A very unhappy person in a church can have lots of problems and they all need to be dealt with for healing to take place. The hurt may come from another area of the church than youth ministry. Form a team of people who have soft hearts to deal with the person. You may need to do an intervention (I am not kidding here). A team of people can be overwhelming, so be careful, but a team of people is hard to ignore.

3. Guard your heart
Chances are you have been wounded by this person. Don’t get mad or get even. I know you want to. Don’t gossip about this person and don’t think of ways to get back at them. Go quickly to step 1 and then step 2 because the longer you wait the worse it will be for your ministry and your heart.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More