Sorry, you can’t fire that person

In the ministry it is almost impossible to “fire” volunteers.  This is one of the great leadership challenges for church leaders and the wise leader will be very cautious before telling someone that they are being replaced.  It’s the old adage: You can win a battle, but lose the war.

Here’s a few thoughts on the subject:

Lazy pastors “fire” volunteers. 

Learn to work around long-term volunteers who truthfully need to be replace but will not quit. 

We’ve all had them and they are usually one of the long-time members in the church with great influence and respect.  You will not win this war.  Deal with it. 

Like a huge boulder in the middle of a river, just learn to flow around them.  Celebrate what they do while being creative in finding a way to take your church in the direction it needs to go.  

Whatever you do, don’t make it a tug-a-war between you and the long-term volunteer.  Most people know a change needs to occur and they will appreciate your efforts in trying to improve things.  But the moment you make them choose between you and the long-term, inefficient volunteer, almost without exception, they will go with the long-term, inefficient volunteer who is probably kin to them and/or taught them in Sunday School and was their youth leader, etc., etc. way back in the day. 

It’s far easy to fire the coach than the players.


For new volunteers—good fences make good neighbors. 

Be very clear on expectations and the consequences for not meeting those expectations.  And then follow up regularly. 

Remember, doers do what checkers check. 

It is your job to manage volunteers, that is why “pastoring” is called a “job”. 

Temporary is usually better than permanent. 

People change and circumstances change.  Most often the best person for the job now will not be the best person for the job later. 

Make most assignments temporary. Embed a transition plan up front and then celebrate that transition when the time comes. Remember, “this one thing I do” is related to a mission, not a position.

Finally, growing people comes before growing your church. 

Develop a personal growth culture where you are consistently investing in developing Christian leaders.  This is one of the most essential duties you have and should take up a lot of your time. 

Whatever you do, do not allow others things to sidetrack you from this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s