Kids Ministry Leaders: How To Handle Negative Volunteers

54389823_88dbffdf7d-300x199This is a difficult thing to talk about for most Kids Min leaders. Why? Because we love volunteers! Because the heartbeat of our ministry is an awesome God that works through our volunteers to impact the lives of parents and kids for Jesus. These folks are not just names on a roster . . . these are our partners in ministry . . . folks who have decided to be a part of a movement. So we find it hard being honest and open about the few on our teams that always seem to find the negative in every situation.

Now let me clarify what I mean by a negative volunteer. These are the folks that have an addiction to find fault in everything; they “nit-pick” issues of little importance. Folks in this category never offer solutions, and negative volunteers show up on Sundays unprepared with little motivation until they have the chance to share with others everything the kids pastor and staff are doing wrong, that’s when they seem to perk up.

A while back I was continually receiving reports about one of my teams simply having a negative attitude overall, and once I did some investigating I quickly found out why. A few members of the team were negative volunteers. Thankfully, shortly after, those few either moved away or stepped down . . . and guess what happened . . . we found new, positive leaders to replace them and all is well with that team now. That’s the reason dealing with negative volunteers is so important. NEGATIVITY SPREADS faster than you could ever imagine.

Here’s how I’m trying to deal with negative volunteers these days:

PRAY for them:

Ask God to change their hearts, to give you the desire to reach out to them, or ask God to move them out of the ministry and into one that will bless them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given these situations over to God and then find out the next month, week, and even day that the person involved is moving away or stepping down. In other cases God has given me the right words to say at the right time. Seek God before diving in!


In love, set aside time to meet with your negative volunteer and be 100% honest with them about what you think is going on. Allow them plenty of time to talk as well in order to respond! You want to walk away with clarity about where his or her heart truly is as it relates to Kids Min.

INVEST in them:

From there, be sure to take out time to come alongside them and help that person grow . . . to stretch them. Follow up with them by phone, over coffee, notes, and emails. And keep a close eye on them to see if things improve or stay the same.

DECIDE for them:

In the end it might just come down to you having a tough conversation . . . face to face. Some negative volunteers will never make the decision to step down and you will simply have to make that decision for them. Celebrate their strengths! Celebrate the good they’ve done! And reinforce your decision that kids ministry is simply not a good fit. Let them know that you will be more than happy to help them connect with another ministry.

BOTTOM LINE: I’m learning to not put this stuff off because it’s difficult. One person with a bad attitude can infect an entire team . . . it’s too important to ignore. But I’m also learning to always give people second chances . . . to help them defeat the negativity. But in the end it’s my role as a kids min leader to pray for them, confront them, invest in their lives, and in the end make the tough decision, all the while handling every moment with grace and love.

About Adam Bayne

I'm the Children's Pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN, a heavyweight Disney nerd, a lightweight sports fan, and an all-out fan of my wife and two daughters.
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