4 Options When Dealing with a Difficult Volunteer

If you’re leading a church in a small town, you’re mostly leading it through volunteers. Sure, you may have a few staff members that get paid, but the majority of ministry is done by people in your congregation who give of their time and talents. Most of them are incredible people who love the vision and mission of the church, but occasionally, you will get one or two who prove very difficult to manage. In this post I want to give you a few ideas on how to deal with them.

Now, when I’m talking about a difficult volunteer, I’m talking about the person who doesn’t want to show up on time. I’m talking about the door greeter who refuses to stop smoking while they’re serving.  I’m talking about the kids’ volunteer who obviously doesn’t like kids. I’m talking about the people who drive you crazy because you know they’re hurting the church.

If you have someone like that in your church, I want to give you permission to ask them not to volunteer anymore. I know it’s not what you want to do, but sometimes it’s what you have to do. If you don’t deal with it, others will take notice, and before long you’ll have a much bigger problem on your hands.

But asking them to stop serving is always the last resort. You do have some other options you should try first.

  1. You can coach/train them. Sometimes volunteers don’t even realize they’re doing something wrong because we never took the time to train them properly. Is it possible you can coach them into being a good volunteer?
  2. You can ask them to serve somewhere else. Other times volunteers just aren’t the right fit for the position. Move a grumpy greeter to the media team, and they may fit right in. This is why it’s always wise to check in with a new volunteer after a few weeks to make sure they’re enjoying their new role.
  3. You can ask them to take a break. Is it possible they’re burned out from serving and just need a break? Or perhaps, they’re going through something really difficult that is making it hard for them to serve with joy. Give them a few weeks or months off and see if they do better once they return.
  4. You can ask them to step down from serving. If you’ve tried the three steps above and they’re still not working out, it’s probably time to ask them to step down from serving.  You’ve done all you can, and you shouldn’t feel any guilt about it.

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult volunteer? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and let us know. If this is your first time reading the blog, thanks for stopping in. Make sure you subscribe to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

5 Ways We’re Prioritizing Small Groups this Year

Over the past five years, the church I serve has gotten consistently worse at small groups. We have a hard time finding leaders, and when we do have leaders, they have a hard time getting people to show up to their group. So, you may be asking yourself, why should I listen to any thing this guy says about groups? I’d be better off reading the blog of someone whose church has over 100% of their congregation in small groups and who doesn’t even take up an offering because their church is so generous. Good luck with that. For everyone else whose church is struggling and who has real problems getting people connected, read on.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you are probably aware of my frustration with groups. There have been many times I’ve been ready to give up on them. If people don’t want to grow in their spiritual walks, then I can’t force them to.

That’s true, but there seems to be something missing in our church when we’re not doing groups well. New relationships aren’t formed, and old relationships aren’t strengthened, which means the family of God isn’t as close as they could be. And because of this, people are less likely to serve, to give, or to even show up.

That’s a problem, and one that needs to be solved. It seems like small groups are the logical solution. So, how can we do it better? Here are a few things we plan on trying.

  1. We’re asking every staff member and leader to lead a group. This seems so obvious, but without accountability it’s easy to let it slip. Yes, our staff and leaders are already very busy but so is everyone else. And if our staff and leaders aren’t making groups a priority in their lives, you can guarantee no one else is either.
  2. We’re allowing leaders to choose the times that work best for them. Semester based small groups are good since you can promote them all at once, but they don’t always work with everyone’s schedule. For example, if you have a child involved in football, then it may be hard for you to lead or attend a group in the fall. You’re busy enough during that season. So, while we’re not completely going away from semester based, we are allowing people to lead groups at times that work best for them.
  3. We’re talking about groups more often. In the past we would talk about groups about a month before each semester began, and then you wouldn’t hear anything else about them until the next semester was getting ready to kick off. This year we plan on finding some new and creative ways to talk about groups throughout the year.
  4. We’re offering free childcare on certain nights. One of the biggest concerns for most group leaders is, what do I do with the kids? With two young kids of my own, I can totally relate. To help alleviate these concerns, we’ll be offering free childcare on Wednesday nights at our church. This will cost the church some money, but I believe it will be worth it in the long run.
  5. We’re evaluating ourselves monthly. In years past, we may have talked about some of our struggles to find group leaders or get people to attend, but it was just a few times a year and we never did anything about it. This year we’re looking at our group numbers every month, and if we don’t like what we see, we’re taking action.

Do you have the secret formula for making groups work in small town rural settings? Or are you just as frustrated as me? I’d love to know. Share your thoughts in the comments below. And while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to learn more about church growth, leadership, and the frustrations that come along with it.

Six Ways You Can Support Your Senior Pastor

Many senior pastors are blessed with a great support staff and volunteers around them, but there are others who aren’t so fortunate. Some pastors have to try to lead a team they didn’t pick, a board they didn’t elect, and a congregation who aren’t always happy about them being their pastor. It’s a recipe for disaster, but you can help change that. You can make the decision to support your pastor, and here’s six ways you can do it.

  1. Don’t make them feel guilty for spending time with their family. I’ve more than likely been guilty of this myself. During certain seasons, it can be tempting to expect the senior pastor to skip out on some family events in the name of ministry. Don’t do this. Our families are the most important ministry we’ll ever lead. Lead yours well, and don’t make the pastor feel guilty for spending time with theirs.
  2. Don’t expect them to be at every hospital visit, funeral visit, or even church event. We all are limited to 24 hours in a day. In order to be healthy and lead, a pastor has to prioritize their time. That means they may have to miss out on some things others think are really important. If it’s that important, surely someone else can step up and do it.
  3. Don’t talk bad about them to others. Not even your spouse. It’s not healthy, and it’s probably a sin. If you have a problem with them, go to them and talk with them one on one. And if you hear someone else talking bad about them, it’s your job to step in and stop it.
  4. Encourage them. Most pastors receive far more criticism than encouragement. They have more doubts and fears than you probably realize. Send them a note or email to encourage them, and tell them how their ministry is impacting your life.
  5. Pray for them. It’s hard to complain about someone you’re praying for. Pray for their ministry, their family, and them personally. Give it a try, and see if it makes a difference.
  6. Do your job well. Perhaps the best thing you can do to support your pastor is to get better at the role you play. If you lead a ministry, lead to the very best of your ability. If you’re a volunteer, serve with everything you got. If you’re just attending a church, start getting involved. If we all just embraced this one idea, our churches would get healthier.

Ok, senior pastors, how did I do? What did I leave out that you would add? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, while you’re here, you might as well subscribe to the blog, especially if you’re looking for tips on growing and leading a church.