2 Reasons to Fire a Volunteer

photo by misterbisson

How do you fire someone who doesn’t get paid, who willingly gives of their free time to help you in your ministry?

As we continue our series on Leaders Always Hurt and Get Hurt, there is no more difficult task than this one. As leaders in ministry, there will come a time when we have to fire a volunteer. How?

First, we have to determine a couple good reasons why to fire a volunteer. We cannot fire a volunteer for any old reason. There has to be evidence that a firing is necessary. Here are the two main reasons to fire a volunteer:

Serious Immoral/Illegal Behavior:

You should fire a volunteer if they have done anything that is seriously illegal or immoral that would question their ability to minister. Examples of this could be abuse (sexual, mental, etc…), use of illegal substances, and grand theft. This is usually an easier situation to fire a volunteer because their behavior has made it clear that they are unfit to volunteer. However, carefully think and pray on every situation. The world is not as black and white as we would like it to be, so discern carefully about what type of illegal and immoral behavior is grounds for dismissal from ministry. No volunteer is perfect and we all make mistakes. That’s why it is important to determine in advance what type of serious immoral or illegal behavior constitutes a dismissal from ministry.

Consistent poor performance:

This becomes a little more challenging reason to fire a volunteer because it takes intentional effort to help the volunteer understand why their performance is poor and help them increase their level of performance. If you begin to notice a volunteer having performance issues in ministry, it is important that you provide immediate feedback to help them to improve. If, after 6 months, you notice that the volunteer is not listening to your feedback and is still performing poorly (even after multiple attempts to help them), that’s when we start to consider if it is time to fire the volunteer. Examples of this could be:

  • Not following through on assigned tasks
  • Not showing up to events that they are expected to volunteer at
  • Exhibiting bad attitudes or behavior that effect the overall ministry.

If you continue to give them feedback and the tools they need to improve, but they do not improve, it is probably time to let them go. But you can’t do this until you have put in the time and effort to help them grow!

 

Here are a few bad (i.e. not good) reasons to fire a volunteer:

  • You don’t like them.
  • They are socially awkward.
  • Their theology is different than yours.
  • They smoke cigarettes and/or drink alcohol casually.
  • They missed one youth ministry night.

Originally, I was going to start talking about how to fire a volunteer in this same post, but length has gotten the best of me. So next week, the topic will be, “How Do You Fire a Volunteer.” Stay tuned!

Question: what do you do when a volunteer exhibits consistently poor performance?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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