There’s a lot written about how to fire up volunteers, but not a lot written about how to fire them when they’ve not quite lived up to their commitments. Of course the best way to ensure the ministry gets done is to place the right people in the right positions in the first place. But occasionally you may (1) make a mistake or you may have (2) inherited someone else’s mistake.

This is the second part of a two-part article on removing a volunteer and it assumes you’ve begun the process of evaluation using the tools presented in part one. If, after prayerful and thoughtful evaluation, it is clear that the ministry volunteer needs to be removed, carefully consider the following:

  1. First, you will need to decide who actually needs to remove the volunteer (probably with your help). If they are an assistant to a ministry, the official ministry leader should be the one removing the volunteer. Although this may not be altogether pleasant for them, it presents you with an opportunity to do some effective leadership apprenticing.
  2. For many situations, it may be best for all concerned if the ministry volunteer “self-selects” out of the position on their own. This is especially true when a volunteer is simply in the wrong ministry. Gentle coaching may be all that is necessary to help an ineffective volunteer find fulfillment in another area where they are both able and available to serve fully.
  3. In some cases, if the volunteer is ineffective, but not malicious, then creating leadership expectations and applying them across the board may evoke a self-selected removal of the volunteer. For instance, volunteers who are less than committed to the ministry are unlikely to remain in their positions if they are expected to be in an accountability partnership, a participant in a weekly small group other than Sunday School, or attending monthly or weekly training.
  4. Again, if the volunteer is ineffective, but not malicious, then creating job descriptions that include specific expectations such as ongoing mentoring, coaching, or accountability may evoke a self-selected removal of the volunteer.
  5. On the other hand, if the volunteer is malicious or is “not on board” with the church’s Mission, Vision, and Values, then removal is mandatory. Someone left in a position who does not embrace the MVV will become at best an anchor and at worst a torpedo as the church tries to  move forward. For these people, there is unlikely to be an “easy way” to remove them and literally firing them may be your only recourse.
    1. Have someone ready to step in to assume command of the ministry before you fire them.
    2. Make sure you have the support of the official leadership/board. (You may not need tacit permission to remove someone, but you will need to have developed the trust of these leaders.)
    3. Never fire a volunteer in a one-on-one situation. Have another supportive and significant leader with you.
    4. Keep your integrity intact. Tell them exactly why they are being removed. Don’t give into the temptation of conjuring up “excuses” such as they’ve been in the position so long they need a break or you need them in some other position.