When Everything Falls Apart
It's unfortunate...but it happens: A team of volunteers
collectively checks out and nothing you do seems to help. Whether
it's poor attendance, lack of interest, conflict, or a
malfunctioning ministry, whenever volunteer apathy is damaging a
ministry or program, it's critical to assess your situation.
• Look for "danger ahead" signals. "When you experience
warning signs, go to other members of your church staff seeking
ideas, prayer, and support, especially your senior pastor," says
Spidle. Be open to suggestions that get to the heart of the
• Evaluate if the ministry or program is dying. Maybe the
program really needs to be redesigned or relaunched. Or perhaps
this program's failure has revealed a different need. Every program
has a life span and requires regular checkups. Evaluating and
adapting programs will put your ministry on the path to health. Ask
your volunteers for input. Give them a private, "safe" environment
to tell you what they really think.
Once you've assessed the situation, decide on a new plan and bring
your strongest leaders on board, including other staff members,
church leadership, or high-level volunteers. Determine which
volunteers will go forward and which will go away. You need a team
willing to embrace the new plan.
• Create change. Once you've assessed your situation,
changes are inevitable. Some changes may happen right away and some
may be long-term solutions that slowly evolve. Communicate your
plan for change to your volunteers and ask for their support. Give
a time frame for the change and stick to it.
• Consider the ministry's image. Ministries that have
suffered grave harm may opt for a complete "face-lift" approach by
creating new logos, ministry names, and graphics. Whatever your
approach, educate your team about why the change is necessary and
promote how it'll positively impact children and families.
• Keep your promises. Follow through on the promises you
make to volunteers. Period. Recruit leaders who'll help you keep
• Maintain momentum. Momentum revitalizes. When people
see exciting changes, they're more likely to jump on board and stay
excited. Remember Isaiah 40:31: "But those who trust in the Lord
will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not