When a key volunteer or leader steps out of their position, it can feel like a punch in a gut.   And punches to the gut hurt, whether you are expecting them or not.

 So what do you do when that key volunteer tells you he’s going to take some time off from serving?  Here are five suggestions.
 
1.  Be Thankful.  
 
It both normal and natural to go into problem solving mode, but take some time to be thankful for the time this person served.  Take time to express your gratitude.  Feeling thankful and saying thanks are two entirely different things.
 
2.  Ask for Feedback.
 
Ask this person what he or she learned serving, and how you might be able to better equip the person who will step in next.  They had a unique experience in volunteering.  Frankly, it’s real-world experience you don’t have as a staff member.  So ask some questions and listen. 
 
3.  Ask if they know of anyone who could take their place.
 
Ask the departing volunteer if there’s anyone you should know about.  Maybe there’s another volunteer on their team who might be ready for leadership.  
 
4.  Let others on their volunteer team know.
 
When someone steps off a team, make sure those remaining hear clear communication.  If it’s a sticky situation, handle it with tact.  Make sure the communication is thorough, and includes your plan for whatever will happen next.
 
5.  Create a short term plan.
 
You should have a long term plan for consistently inviting new volunteers to join your volunteer teams.  In the mean time, create a short term plan for meeting the need until your system has time to work.  Maybe someone will pick up the slack.  Maybe you’ll bring in a volunteer from another area.  Whatever you decide, solve the short term problem with an eye on the long term ministry.

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