Dealing With Ineffective Ministers

In my second year of ministry I had a volunteer that just was not working out.  He was ineffective when it came to interacting with teens.  In fact I sometimes wondered if he was just there for the free food and to check-up on his kid.  I didn’t know what to do; therefore, I ignored it.  Finally, someone on my team approached me and I decided to confront him.  But, the volunteer beat me to it and I got an email from him stating, “I’m not really happy serving in the ministry, I’m going to try something different.” PHEW!

Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with ineffective ministers and you will too (If you haven’t already).  There can be a reluctance to handling underperforming volunteers and that’s because they are VOLUNTEERS and it’s easy to feel like you owe them.  But, the best thing you can do with ministers or volunteers is by treating them like your employees.  That means raising the bar and having high expectations.  If they are unable to reach them or are ineffective you need to approach it.  And you can do that by:

  • Checking In Annually: One of the reasons you have to deal with ineffective ministers is because they are burned out and they do not know how to get out of their commitment.  Before anyone serves in your ministry you should lay out a season of commitment (For us it’s one year). At the end of that season, sit down with them, review the season, get their insight and ask whether or not they would like to re-up their commitment.  This is the most unobtrusive way of making sure someone is in the right place.
  • Confronting Them Early: If you sense an issue do not ignore it, instead lean into it.  It’s important to keep short accounts instead of building a list of problems.  If you confront an ineffective ministers early you’ll be less likely to have it blow up in your face.  Be sure to confront them in private so that you do not cause any embarrassment.
  • Praying With Them: Ineffective ministry might be caused by a spiritual battle going on in the life of the volunteer.  When you approach them about the issue ask them if they have anything going on in their life.  Reach out by allowing them to share their life with you.  Offer to pray for them and with them.
  • Giving Them A New Role: If someone is not working out consider relocating them to a new role or even ministry.  The problem might be due to the fact that they are serving in the wrong place.  As leaders we need to be putting our best people in the biggest opportunities so that they can exploit their strengths.  Again, a seasonal review will help you have that conversation before it’s too late.
  • Letting Them Go: In the end you might need to fire a volunteer.  It sounds odd, especially in volunteer world; however, you need to make sure the best people are on your team.  If you find yourself in this situation approach it early and have someone (Especially of the same sex as the person your letting go) who can sit with you and communicate what is going on.

Ineffective ministers will hold you back from reaching your goals and vision.  Most of the time it’s done unintentionally; however, it cannot be ignored.  Face the tension, lean in and develop a plan that will help you deal with a minor problem before it becomes big.

How do you deal with ineffective ministers?