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"You can't fire a volunteer!" That's probably the first thought of many reading the title of this article. And the second thought of many is likely of the particular volunteer or two they'd like to fire.
Just as volunteers will, rightly, leave a position that is not working out, so also they can be asked to leave. The fact that they are volunteers, and the fact that they are working in the church, does not prevent them from being 'fired'-but those facts greatly impact how it is done.
Attitude is Important
Volunteers and their leaders can be held to mutually-agreeable standards. When we accept the unacceptable, we're lowering the volunteer to a second-class worker. Problems that are not dealt with greatly hinder the work of the church, work that is too important—eternally important—to allow it to suffer.
Go in with the attitude that problems can be worked out to the benefit of both sides. There are no 'wrong' people, just people in the wrong position. "Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it," St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians. "God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be" (v. 27 and v.18). We need to help people find the place in the body that suits their gifts.
Steps to Take
When a problem arises concerning a volunteer, intervene early. Don't put it off; things don't generally get better on their own. Here's some suggested steps.
An Ounce of Prevention . . .
. . . is worth a whole lot more than a pound of cure. Problems are prevented when volunteers:
Churches also must cure "terminal niceness." When we overlook problems and conflicts because we want to be "nice," frustration easily builds to an explosive point.
Perhaps the best prevention, but also the most difficult challenge, is a regular evaluation meeting between every volunteer and their leader, a time when both can be honest, fair and open.
Yes, volunteers can be fired. And sometimes they must be fired for the good of the church and its mission. But the process is long, difficult and must be done with much love. Each and every individual in the church is a part of the body of Christ, and each part has a role in the body. More that that, each one is a soul for whom Christ died.
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The Equipper Newsletter
Published by Karen Kogler
Helping People Serve Jesus
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