May Volunteers Be Fired?

The term “fired” is a pretty strong one.   It reminds one of Donald Trump’s show “Apprentice” wherein he fired folks every week until only one candidate for a job was left.

When it comes to volunteers, the idea of ‘firing’ is frightful and it seems to be extreme and unloving—especially in a church context.

I would suppose a better term may be “replacing.”   What I mean by that is that if a volunteer isn’t performing well, he/she should be replaced after an explanation of why the change needs to take place.   Also, a volunteer who is being replaced could be placed in another ministry more fitting for him/her.

John Williams gives some times when it is wise to replace a volunteer:

“Generally, a volunteer who doesn’t do the job well is 1) well-meaning but incompetent (in over his or her head), 2) well-meaning but has not counted the cost in time and effort (has too many other irons in the fire), 3) well-meaning but providentially hindered by some unexpected illness, family responsibility, or other personal problems, 4) well-meaning but who, over time, has lost enthusiasm for the job and maybe is ashamed to admit that by quitting.”

I think there may be other times when a volunteer needs to be replaced; these times would be extreme and do not necessarily need to be discussed herein.

I would suggest that when John’s examples occur, the volunteer should be approached lovingly and kindly.  A blog or text will not do.  It must be in person or at least a phone call.

Going back to our examples, if she/he is incompetent, you may suggest a ministry for which he/she is better qualified.   If time is an issue with the volunteer, you may ask him/her if they are struggling with the demands of the ministry and ask them if they wish to be relieved.   If they are providentially hindered from serving as the ministry demands, you can excuse them from serving.   And, if you see someone who has lost his/her passion for a ministry, you will have to take control, telling him/her what you have seen and heard about their lack of passion and offer him/her a break until the passion returns.   Most volunteers will response positively to your suggestions.

Trav