How to remove a ministry volunteer is a tough topic. In fact, I hate to even write about this subject. But it’s one of the most frequently asked questions when I teach on developing volunteers. Always, someone sheepishly asks, “Uh…well…I have this one leader. And…well, she’s been there a long time. And…uh…well…”
Because I’ve heard the same scenario a thousand times, I’ll say, “And you want to get rid of her but you don’t know how, right?” The crowd laughs awkwardly, but the question-asker sighs with relief to finds out he’s not alone.
In 30 years of youth ministry leadership, I’ve had to ask people to step away from their volunteer position. Often, the volunteer was relieved to go. But most of the time, I faced a sweaty-palms, intense, conflict-filled, difficult conversation. And every time, our ministry was healthier once this person was removed.
4 Guidelines for How to Remove a Ministry Volunteer
Here are some principles I address in my book Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. I hope they help you know how to remove a ministry volunteer at church.
1. If God has called you to youth ministry and the church has given you the mantle of leadership, then lead.
You don’t have to be mean-spirited to lead. You just need to be willing. Leaders must make decisions and take actions that aren’t easy. Letting someone go is one of them. That’s why you need to know how to remove a ministry volunteer with grace.
Your youth ministry is too important to lower your standards and overlook someone who is causing problems. Difficult leaders damage morale, hurt students, cause continual grief, and hinder your ministry from growing.
2. As the lead youth worker, you’re responsible for assembling a team that pursues health and moves in the right direction.
Not everyone will go there with you. Remember what Paul and Barnabas fought about in Acts 15? They went their separate ways because Paul didn’t think John Mark had what it took to minister with him.
You’re not the first leader in the history of Christianity to make a tough decision about leaders.
3. Bringing people onto the team is always easier than removing them.
Remember that when you’re about to say yes to a potential volunteer who gives you an unsettled feeling. Trust your gut and say no.