If you are a tech leader, you’ll have to lead volunteers. Volunteers are the lifeblood of making church happen—especially in the worship and tech areas. In many situations, tech leaders are not prepared for the challenges of managing so many different personalities that may come into the tech ministry. From the outside, there is a stereotype of who serves on tech teams in churches. But in reality, the types of people that serve are as wide-ranging as anywhere else in the church.

So you have all these awesome volunteers—some are a bit challenging—but you love having them and are getting into a rhythm. The services sing and you are generally happy. Then it happens: you start having issues with one of your volunteers. This could play out in many different ways, but you must deal with bad volunteers quickly and biblically. If you don’t, they can dismantle not only your team, but also your ability to lead.

Bad volunteers can dismantle not only your team, but also your ability to lead.

A good leader is always evaluating members on the famous three “C’s” of leadership: Character, Competency, and Chemistry. So how do you deal with bad volunteers that lack in any one of these key areas? Let’s break it down.

Character

From bad or disrespectful comments about the pastor to questionable behavior outside of their time serving, character issues on your team need to be dealt with quickly and delicately. If they aren’t, it can dismantle your team and put your leadership into question.

  • Document the issue – Clearly note the behavior.
  • Seek God’s direction – Pray and meditate before taking action.
  • Seek wise counsel – Talk to your pastor or direct overseer about this issue.
  • Have a plan – Decide what steps need to be taken before you meet with the offender.
  • Set up a meeting – Set up a meeting with the volunteer and bring someone you trust to be present.
  • Be firm, but loving – Do not waver from your plan. They may not be happy with what you have to say, but you are not there to please them; you are there to handle the situation.
  • Offer restoration – Have a plan for restoration to the team. This may require they fulfill certain criteria. But let them know that if they are willing, this is not the end.
  • Report to your leaders – After the meeting, make sure you follow up with your overseers about what has happened.
  • Follow-up – Make sure to keep in contact with them no matter the outcome. They need to know that you care about them, not just because they are serving the church or your ministry.
  • Keep it confidential – Don’t share the intimate details of this issue with others and certainly not with your team. Let them know this person is no longer serving or taking a break, but never share things you have had to deal with in private.

A side note about character issues: If you have a grievous issue that happens during a service, handle it immediately and in private. I have had sound operators quit over how their girlfriend was treated in another ministry right before service, and camera operators show up drunk. These things happen and you have to deal with them in the moment.

If you have a grievous issue that happens during a service, handle it immediately and in private.

Whatever you do, make sure your actions are Christ-like and do as little to disrupt the others serving.

Competence

Sometime you may find that your volunteers are just not cutting it on song words or they just can’t seem to master “head room” on the camera shot.

  • Document the issue – Clearly note what is not working.
  • Seek God’s direction – Pray and meditate before taking action.
  • Have a plan-B – Maybe they can serve in another area. Offer this and train them if they are willing. If there are no positions for them, offer to help them move to another ministry in the church.
  • Talk in private – Never chastise a volunteer in front of the other volunteers.
  • Be firm, but loving – Do not waver from your plan. They may not be happy with what you have to say, but you are not there to please them; you are there to handle the situation. Nothing frustrates other volunteers more than continuing to see someone who is not in the right position.
  • Be kind – No matter what, be kind. These are volunteers, not employees.

Chemistry

Sometimes, certain volunteers just don’t gel with your team. They may have great character and be quite competent, but they just don’t get along with others on your team or even with you.

  • Document the issue – Clearly note why they don’t gel with your team.
  • Seek God’s direction – Again, always seek the Lord.
  • Have a plan – Offer to help them find another ministry in the church that would better suit their personality and work style.
  • Set up a meeting – Set up a meeting with the volunteer and bring someone you trust to be there in the meeting.
  • Be firm, but loving – Do not waver from your plan. They may not be happy with what you have to say, but you are not there to please them; you are there to handle the situation.
  • Follow-up – Make sure to keep in contact with them no matter the outcome. They need to know that you care about them, not just because they are serving the church or your ministry.

Being a ministry leader in the church is hard. Make no mistake about it. Be Christ-like in all things. We get to do this.

Being a ministry leader in the church is hard.

I would love to hear your stories of challenging volunteers. Please comment below. (No names, please.)