Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders How to Remove a Ministry Volunteer

How to Remove a Ministry Volunteer

I hate to even write on 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…

Since 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 when he finds out he’s not alone.

In 30 years’ youth ministry leadership, I have 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.

Here are some principles that I wrote about in my book, Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry…I hope they help:

1. If God has called you to be the lead youth worker 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 to lead. Leaders have to make decisions and take actions that aren’t easy. Letting someone go is one of them.

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, it’s your responsibility to put a team together that’s going to pursue health and move 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. It’s always easier to bring people onto the team than to get them off.

Remember that when you’re about to say yes to a potential volunteer who gives you an unsettling feeling. Trust your gut and say no.

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Doug Fields has been in youth ministry since 1979 and former pastor to students at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of 50+ books, including the best-selling Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry & Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. He's also the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, an instructor at Azusa Pacific University/HomeWord, and on the leadership team with Youth Specialties. You can connect with Doug through his blog at www.downloadyouthministry.com! More from Doug Fields or visit/subscribe to Doug's blog at www.dougfields.com