Barry Campbell writes from Nashville, Tennessee

A preschool worker loves children and is faithful in attendance. But every Sabbath he is late. Parents and other workers are frustrated and inconvenienced.

A teacher of teenage girls is always unprepared to teach. She is well liked by the teens, but most Sabbath School time is spent discussing schoolwork or TV. Rarely do they get around to Bible study.

One of the most difficult problems faced by leaders today is how to deal with ineffective worker. Here are a few ideas.

Understand Why Workers Are Ineffective

  • Workers may be serving with the wrong age group.
  • Workers may be serving in wrong kinds of positions.
  • Workers may not understand what they are supposed to do.
  • Workers may be experiencing health or personal problems.
  • Workers may not have been enlisted properly.
  • Workers may have too many jobs in the church.

Deal with Ineffective Workers Positively

  • Talk with the person face-to-face.
  • Pray with the person.
  • Provide some options. In what other positions might this person serve?
  • Enlist people properly.
  • Encourage attendance at team meetings.
  • Compliment them on something they are doing well.
  • Provide all workers a list of training opportunities and encourage participation.
  • Show continuing concern for all workers.

Consider These Guidelines

  • When in doubt, consider the group involved. An effective worker in the preschool department may demand more immediate attention than an ineffective worker in an adult men's class. Both are important, but adults may be better able to care for themselves. Both situations need your attention and action, but consider the group.
  • Consider giving the ineffective worker a leave of absence. Most ineffective workers realize they are ineffective and that something must be done. A leave of absence may be welcomed (and it may not).
  • Provide resources workers need to be the best they can be. Make sure they have the best teaching materials or other resources. Also provide training resources.
  • Continue to help ineffective workers and be patient as long as they recognize a need to change and are willing to improve. You are an elder. These ineffective workers are members of your team. Don't be hasty in removing them from the positions in which they were enlisted to serve.
  • Only when all else has failed and the worker feels no need for improvement should he or she be relieved of his or her responsibility. Take this action with love and yet firmness. Striving for excellence in the ministries of your church is important, but remember that you are dealing with a person.
  • Don't prolong the situation. You may choose to delay action because the ineffective worker is in training or because prayerful deliberation suggests that the time for action has not yet come, but do not put off the action you know you should take now.
  • Remember, the worker probably knows he or she is ineffective but feels he or she made a commitment and must abide by that. Work with the person to come up with a win-win solution.

Barry Campbell writes from Nashville, Tennessee

Adapted from Great Commission Breakthrough: "How to" Ideas for Great commission Churches (Nashville: Sunday School Division Office, The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1992), 5.