When a KidMin Volunteer Just Isn’t Working Out

Volunteer Not Working Out

I’ve met with hundreds of children’s and family ministry leaders and pastors. I’ve toured countless church buildings and Christian Education departments. I have never encountered a children’s ministry that pays everyone who serves in the ministry. Have you?

Every children’s ministry depends on volunteers.

That dependence is critical, especially when the kidmin is dealing with a volunteer who is just not working out. You’ve been there. I’ve been there. What do you do?

First, consider the person. There’s a big difference between a bad person and bad fit. Make the call. Invite your supervisor to provide discernment. Consider sharing the scenario (without using names) with a network of children’s ministry leaders for their wisdom and insight.

Second, consider the expectations of the role. Do clear expectations exist for the role you’ve placed the volunteer in? If not, put back your power bait, fisherman. It’s time to write clear expectations and make a plan to communicate those expectations regularly. You’ll never be able to fire someone for a job they never agreed to. If those expectations exist, you’re in a good place to continue the conversation.

Third, revisit the expectations of the role with the volunteer. The vast majority of kidmin volunteer issues are related to how they fulfill the responsibilities of the ministry role. Do they understand what is required? Do they have questions or need clarification? Does the volunteer understand why the ministry responsibilities exist and do those responsibilities make sense? Leadership is conversation, not email or texting. Have the meeting. Review what you’ve already established. For the especially tough conversations I’ve encountered, I’ve taken a day to fast and pray beforehand. Note, your spiritual preparation is just as important as your practical preparation.

Fourth, follow up. What does this volunteer need to succeed? Is there a tension to be managed, a problem to be solved, or a skill to be developed? Follow up from your conversation to help them win. Consider options and ideas for putting that kidmin volunteer in a place where they can make an impact, either in your area of ministry or in another.

Fifth, and most importantly, let the volunteer respond and communicate their decision to opt in or out. In the last ten years of ministry, I’ve had more of these conversations than I can remember. Many times I handled these conversations poorly because of how I answered the inevitable question, “Are you kicking me off the team?” I’ll admit, I’ve answered this with a “Yes” more than once. Below average. A better answer? “Absolutely not. I’m here to discuss with you what it means to be part of the team. You tell me, can you agree to fulfill the team requirements? You tell me if you’re in. If you have hesitation, please know that it’s my desire to see you use your gifts, talents, and abilities in a ministry you can get excited about. I’d love to help you find what that role could be.”

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