The reality of ministry life is that, at some point, your volunteers are going to leave. Not [necessarily] because they don’t like you, but simply because they are moving, or have health or family issues, or simply want a new challenge in a different area of ministry. Treat leaving volunteers well. How you treat them when they aren’t directly benefiting you shows what you really thought of them – whether you loved them as people or simply saw them as a “human resource.” I will confess that I have not always done a good job on this – I am so future focused that I sometimes forget to celebrate the past and show compassion and care in the present. Looking around at other church leaders, I think that’s a ball that many of us drop.
To do better, I suggest following the “3 C’s Of Volunteer Departures” [in full transparency, I may have just made that up… : ) ]
Congratulate them – thank them for what they have done. SPECIFICALLY what they have done, the impact that they’ve had on the church and congregation;
Celebrate them – publicly call out their servant hearts and admirable traits. Make a big deal about them in front of the team;
Commission them – send them out into the future with the understanding that their service to God continues.