Warning: A Volunteer has a Crush on You

photo by Aimee Wheaton/Mazer Design

Ministry is all about relationships. I can’t effectively minister or lead if I do not take the time to foster and build authentic relationships with the people in my church. Sometimes, building those relationships can cause some trouble.

Imagine this scenario: a single guy has just been hired to lead a certain ministry in your church. He’s passionate about his faith in Jesus Christ and it shows. He is dedicated to building a successful ministry. He is charismatic. He happens to play a musical instrument (something we all romanticize). To top it all off, he’s a good looking guy. As a new leader in the church, he begins to build relationships with the community and starts to invite volunteers into his ministry. In the eyes of many, he is the ideal man. It does not take long before there are signs that some of the single women in the church are taking a liking to him. In fact, they begin to volunteer for the ministries he leads, not because of wanting to serve the church, but because they want to get to know him better.

I’m sure you’ve seen or personally experienced this scenario before. In this day and age when risk-management and liability are of utmost concern in the church, we have to take this situation very seriously.

Whenever you sense that a volunteer has a crush on you, as the ministry leader, you need to take immediate action. What do you do when a volunteer has a crush on you?

Don’t date that person!
It is unwise to get into a romantic relationship with any of your volunteers.

Distance yourself
This is hard to do, but it can be very effective. The volunteer has a romanticized view of who you are as a person before they have really had the opportunity to get to know you. Distancing yourself from the volunteer will help you to stay away from a possible troubling situation. You can’t fully ignore them. That’s not pastoral or nice. But don’t treat them any differently then you would treat your other volunteers.

Tell your supervisor/pastor
Your supervisor can be your biggest advocate in this situation. He or she can help you navigate these troubled waters. They are also a neutral outside observer who can provide you with perspective. Don’t hide this. Talk with your supervisor immediately.

Encourage your volunteer to get involved in another ministry
When someone volunteers for a ministry, they usually have a good heart and truly want to serve. However, the fact that they have a crush on you is a liability. It is a good idea to sit down with this volunteer in a public venue and ask them to consider volunteering for another ministry. It’s okay to be honest about how awkward the situation is or can become. I’d rather be transparent with them instead of lying.

Ask them to step down from the ministry.
I’m all for love. The very fact that you and the person that has a crush on you are involved in ministry is a great blessing and something important that you have in common. Serving God should be a cornerstone of any romantic relationship. If you do decide you want to date this person, they cannot minister with you as a volunteer. There are numerous reasons why. Here a just a few:

  • You can get accused of favoritism by giving the volunteer you are dating perks that others many not be receiving.
  • If you break up, the ministry situation becomes very awkward, not just for you and the person you are dating, but for everyone involved in the ministry. Don’t kid yourself and think that you can work through the break up and still have them as a volunteer. That is not realistic and irresponsible.

Crushes happen quite often in ministry. Most of the time, they come and go and are not a big deal. Sometimes, they can become troublesome. I’m not advocating that you change who you are so that volunteers don’t have a crush on you. I’m only advising all of us to be mindful on how we deal with situations like this.

What strategies would you suggest when a volunteer has a crush on a ministry leader?

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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