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I’m in a pretty unique situation because right now I lead my brother and my wife on our family ministry team. My brother leads our children’s ministry team and my wife is our family ministry coordinator connecting parents to all our next generation ministries. Why did we hire them? It’s simple, they are some of the best next generation leaders I have ever been around. We know many churches would never allow this but our team prayed and processed these moves with diligence and decided to have the best leaders on our team regardless of family status. I am betting many of you may not work with family on staff but rather have family on your volunteer team. Here are some rules that have guided me when leading the family that I serve with.

  • Never hire family if you are not willing to fire family // I’m not joking. If family are not a good fit you have to put your feelings aside and be willing to ask them to step away. One time I had to ask my wife (who was a volunteer small group leader) to step away from a role because she was not a good fit. It was hard. She cried. I cried! In the end it was the best ministry move we ever made together because she found her sweet spot. No matter what, when dealing with family you have to be willing to ask them to walk away if things are not working well. If you can’t do this then do not allow family to serve on your team.
  • When you work with family they have to become ministry partners at work and family at home // Family stuff and home stuff have to have healthy separation. At work my brother is a partner in ministry. When we are away from work his is my little brother. We need both relationships.
  • Be willing to allow family to push back on you // You have to allow your family members you serve with to give you feedback just like everyone else on the team.
  • Treat family just like everyone else on your team // Best advice I ever got from another leader about working with their family was to have healthy boundaries just like you have with everyone else on your team. Work hard to treat your family just like everyone else on the team.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge and encourage family on your team // Publicly you have to be willing to do both without fear. They are family but they also need consistent leadership from you at work. Lead them well just like you would any other person on your team.

Would love to hear your experience with family working or volunteering on your team? What are some insights you have gained through your experience?