10 Volunteers You DO NOT Want in Your Ministry

Volunteers are the lifeblood of children's ministry.  Without volunteers, there is no children's ministry.  But that doesn't mean you should just stick anyone that is breathing into your ministry.  Quantity of volunteers is crucial since you have ratios that must be met, but quality is also just as important.  You need the right people in the right places.

There are some people you don't want in your ministry.  Here are 10 people who can bring more harm to your ministry than good.  

Nadia the No-Show.  You schedule Nadia to serve, but you don't know if she'll show up or not.  She will leave you scrambling at the last minute to fill her spot.  No phone call.  No text.  No show. 

Greg the Griper.  Greg complains about everything.  He doesn't like the curriculum.  He doesn't like the way you are leading the team.  He shows up to volunteer training, but lets you know he had more important things to do.  He gripes about the craft you prepared.  He gripes about the VBS theme.  He gripes about the coffee being to hot or too cold.  Negativity is his standard mode of operation.

Traditional Ted.  Ted fights change.  All he talks about is the glory days of the past.  The music is too loud for him.  He's against kids having "fun" at church.  He's not about to vote to update anything.  He believes kids should sit quietly and listen to his lecture...slash...lesson.  Kids dread going to his class.  

Lily the Latecomer.  Lily shows up...15 minutes late.  She's never been to a pre-service huddle.  She adds stress to your life on Sunday morning as you wait for her to get there so you can open a classroom.  You often find yourself standing in her role while looking at your watch...knowing you really need to be doing something else, but unable to do so because of her tardiness.

Uma the Unprepared.  Uma stands at the back of the room and frantically looks over her small group lesson during large group time.  Preparation for her is looking at the lesson while waiting for the stoplights to change on the way to church.  She methodically reads her lesson straight from the lesson plan since it's the first time she's looked at it.  She asks you during class how the craft works. 

Gina the Grumpy.  Gina's name is the best way to describe her personality.  She never smiles.  She causes guests to feel unwelcome and that they are a bother.  She can quickly take down the joy level where she serves.  She is usually nursing some kind of unknown illness and lets you know how much it hurts.  She serves, but with a frown on her face.

Cellphone Cecelia.  Cecelia simply can't seem to put down her cellphone.  She's on it before class starts rather than spending time with the kids.  Instead of sitting with the kids during large group time, she's in the back of the room looking at text messages and catching up on the latest Facebook posts.  Her phone rings right in the middle of your volunteer training.  She gives her phone far more attention than she does the kids. 

Power Hungry Peter.  He reminds you how long his family has been in the church.  Speaking of his family, their name is on the end of one of the pews.  He has his own agenda and he seeks to set the direction of the ministry, even when it doesn't line up with your vision.  He only gets behind ideas that are his ideas.

Gossiping Glenda.  She is constantly stirring things up by spreading the latest rumors, bad news and murmurings.  She greets you with smiles while talking behind your back.  She disrupts the unity and culture of the team on a regular basis.

Immature Isaiah.  Isaiah is a middle-schooler.  He serves as a way to get out of service and have "fun" at church.  You have to spend just as much, if not more, time correcting him than you do the kids he is supposed to be helping.  He ends up being more of a distraction to the kids than he does serving them.

Even though these names were fictitious, I'm sure some of them brought some real people and situations to mind.  When you lead volunteers, you will encounter all types of personalities, attitudes and situations.

The goal is not to immediately get rid of these people (especially if you are new to your role), but to help them grow in their areas of weakness.  But first and foremost, you must protect the culture of your team and not let these volunteers tear it down.

How do you help them?  Here are some posts that can give you some tips for dealing with difficult volunteers.

How to Hold Volunteers Accountable

7 Keys to Influencing Your Volunteers

11 Keys to Effectively Leading Volunteers

Sometimes you simply cannot see a volunteer grow beyond their area of weakness.  If you determine at that point that they are going to be an ongoing disruption to the team culture, then it may be time to have a hard conversation with the volunteer and let them go.  In this article, I share some tips and insight on how to let a volunteer go.

Remember, it is a privilege to serve in children's ministry.  It is not a person's "right."  This will help you make the right call when it is needed.

p.s. You can get more great tips and help about building and leading a volunteer team in my new book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."  It's available at this link.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What other type of volunteers are detrimental to a team?  How do you navigate through it?  Share your thoughts, insight and ideas in the comment section below.