Walking into any ministry it is going to take a ton of work from a ton of different people. You have blueprint, you have begun to break ground, and now you need to make sure all the right people are in the right place. You walk into the ministry and you have a bunch of people who have been there for a while, you might even have some people who have been volunteering for longer than you were at school and had a full time job combined. You have to pick up the reigns and take charge and lead them. At the same time, you know that you are going to need to build your own team. Who you attract and work with might not be who is in the room right now. You know you will be actively seeking new people to join the new vision and live it out. You have to balance both if you don’t want to burn out. You need to work with the inherited leaders while at the same time going after new ones. It’s tough!

Before we dive into how to deal with the inherited, the newbies, and how to train, encourage and keep volunteers, let me share with you some things if you want to run out volunteers. All of these things I personally have committed and paid the price. If you want to run down every volunteer you will ever have, make sure you do the following:

Don’t have a clear vision.

Don’t let them know what a successful night looks like for them. Let them guess whether or not they are making a difference. Don’t remind them the vision of the ministry and let them know what practical things they should be doing so they know if they are doing a great job. For small groups, just let them run wild and let them guess what they are supposed to be doing. Let them see the Proverb come true, “Without vision, people perish.”

Be passive aggressive.

Don’t ever have a direct conversation. If someone does something that is not in your guidelines for leaders or if someone gossips or is constantly negative, or if leaders are going off course in the vision you have laid out, don’t look them in the eye and avoid contact at all costs. Maybe if you just leave it alone it will go away (Hint: it doesn’t).

Don’t ever notice little things.

Services are busy. We have our own stuff we are worried about. We have to preach, or get the game ready or catch up with that student. Don’t ever notice the little wins of your leaders as they interact with students. Just focus on what you have to do and make sure you don’t ever let them know the great things you saw them doing. Deep down in their heart they know you know, right?

Never have get-togethers.

Don’t ever have parties or celebrate what is happening in ministry. Don’t ever have days where you get together and have some sort of training. Don’t ever invite them over to your house and let them be a part of your personal life. Never get them all together and share where you want the ministry to go.

Don’t let them speak into the ministry.

You’re the ministry leader, don’t take what they have to say to better the ministry. They are in the trenches sure, but you get paid for it so do what you think best. Don’t ever seek advice and see what they think when it comes to events, sermons, training etc. They don’t really know the in’s and out’s of ministry so why let them speak into right?

Never have fun.

Be all business all of the time. Don’t allow smiling and games. There is no time in the kingdom of God for that. We got stuff to do. Don’t spend time together so you can laugh. God forbid that your volunteers enjoy being around each other because the students might see that they are having fun and then the students might begin to have fun at service as well. Fun leaks, so keep the fun on the “DL”.

Obviously, I’m being a little cheeky here and you are doing to want to do the opposite things if you want to keep your leaders around and I’m assuming you do. These things are simple but important when it comes to having a healthy leadership team who genuinely like to be around each other and work towards one mission… for students to meet Jesus.