16 Ways to Lose the Trust of Your Volunteers (and how to avoid it)

Don't return their phone calls or emails.
How to avoid...

  • Return phone calls or emails within 24 hours.  48 hours max.
Don't communicate with them.
How to avoid...
  • Communicate with them weekly.  
  • Find out what method of communication is most effective for your team and use it. 
Don't follow through on your promises.
How to avoid...
  • The moment you make a promise, write it down.  
  • Make it happen.
  • Report back to them that it is complete.
Don't be prepared when you ask them to come to a training session or meeting.
How to avoid...
  • Be prepared and set up before they start arriving.  
  • I recommend being set up and ready to go at least 30 minutes before the meeting starts.  This allows you to be relaxed and able to spend time with your team before the meeting starts.
  • Make it worth their time.  People don't attend a training meeting because they've been to one.
Don't pay your bills on time.
How to avoid...
  • Be above reproach with your finances. 
  • Be known in the community as a person of integrity and someone who pays their bills on time.  If you are not...word will get around.
Don't be above reproach with the opposite sex.
How to avoid...
  • Set clear boundaries about your interaction with members of the opposite sex.
  • If you are married, never ride alone in a car with someone of the opposite sex except your spouse.
  • Have a window where people can see into your office at all times.
  • Be very careful about counseling a member of the opposite sex.  If you have to, then have someone else in the room.  The best scenario is to not counsel anyone of the opposite sex alone.
Don't be prepared for the weekend services.
How to avoid...
  • Be prepared and ready to go way before the service begins.  This allows you to relax and spend time with the kids, parents, and volunteers as they arrive. 
  • Check everything ahead of time.  Object lessons, sound cues, videos, etc.  Never assume it is going to work without testing it.
Don't practice what you preach.
How to avoid...
  • Lead by example.
  • Spend more time working on you than you do on the ministry.
Don't listen to their concerns or ideas.
How to avoid...
  • Not only listen to ideas and feedback, but seek it out.
  • Be more concerned about understanding than about being understood.
  • Remain teachable.  
  • Hold the ministry with open hands.
Don't be available for them in their time of need.
How to avoid...
  • Don't just say you are going to pray for them, actually take time to pray with them.
  • When they are in the hospital, experience a loss, or hurting...be there.  
  • It's not what you will say during those times, it's your presence that will make the biggest difference.
Don't support your Pastor and church leaders. 
How to avoid...
  • Be loyal to your Pastor and church leaders.
  • Don't whine or complain about how tough your job is or how much you are getting paid.
  • Always practice direct communication.  If an issue or question arises between you and your Pastor or direct report, go talk directly to that person instead of having a side conversation with your volunteers.
Don't give them credit for accomplishments.
How to avoid...
  • Push other people into the spotlight instead of yourself.
  • Brag on your volunteers...a lot.
  • Take time to recognize the people who worked behind the scenes to make an event or program successful.
Don't tell the truth.  Lie when needed.
How to avoid...
  • Always tell the truth.  Always.
  • Be a person of your word.
  • Shoulder the blame for mistakes.  Remember... as the leader...the buck stops with you.
Don't deal with sin or disunity.  Just sweep it under the rug or hope it will go away.
How to avoid...
  • Don't participate in or tolerate gossip or disunity. 
  • Deal with sin in a timely, appropriate, and Biblical manner.
  • Protect the unity of the team.  Unity doesn't happen naturally.  You have to fight for it.
Don't lead by relationship, lead by title.
How to avoid...
  • Spend time loving and honoring people.  You get what you give.
  • Include people.  Be collaborative.  
  • Build relationships with people.  Let them know you care more about them than about what they do.
Don't work hard...be lazy.
How to avoid...
  • Develop a strong work ethic.
  • Be a servant leader.
  • When it's time to get hands dirty...lead the way.  Instead of barking orders from the sidelines...be right in the middle of the blood, sweat, and tears.
The floor is yours.  What are other ways children's ministry leaders lose the trust of their volunteers?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.