When beginning a new cm leadership position – How to deal with negative team members

Your Question:

“I am directing a CM that hasn’t had a CM director before me.  What do I do with CM team members who are grumpy or negative?”

The Issues:

When leading a CM that has been operating without any formal leadership, you must initially accept the “status quo.”  The ministry is functioning as it is. To make significant changes right away could damage the ministry. After “earning the right to be heard” for a couple of weeks, you can approach the negative team member(s) with suggestions for change. If they don’t desire to adjust their negativity, you may be faced with asking them to either take a break from the ministry, or to leave the ministry completely.

Scripture Foundation:

“Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”  Proverbs 22:10

Short Answer:

Dealing with people is very challenging. We humans are complex creatures! We have feelings, dreams, and needs. As a new CM leader, you must ask God to reveal those needs, feelings, and personality traits in the existing CM team members. 


To understand a negative person takes time and attention. Your “natural” tendency may be to distance yourself from a negative person, to directly confront that person, or to “fire” that person.  Instead of those “natural” reactions, ask God to help you do what Jesus did with negative people: get close enough to understand him/her. Consider Jesus’ reaction to challenging individuals: Zaccheus, the “woman at the well,” and Simon Peter. With all three, Jesus “moved toward them,” and spent time listening to them. He asked them pointed questions that would “draw them out” and open conversation doors. His investment of time, and attention changed them all.  Their tendency toward negativity may have not completely disappeared, but there was a foundation on which Jesus could encourage them further.


A negative CM team member needs to be approached by you. Make your “approach” carefully. Compliment him/her about his/her service to the ministry. State your thankfulness for his/her commitment and faithfulness.  Share your opinion about the importance of positive words or comments. Tell him/her that his/her words matter. Ask him/her about his/her job or life at home. Encourage him/her to let his/her words be supportive and encouraging to others.


If you have noticed that his/her negativity is usually about how the ministry or church is run, ask him/her to share his/her views.  Listen carefully and compliment him/her for his/her passion. 


Depending on the severity of his/her negativity, you might not express a clear “warning” at this first discussion.  If he/she repeats the negative comments, that might be a better time to warn him/her.


Let the senior pastor know about your conversation(s) with this person. Make sure the senior pastor is aware that you may need to remove this person from the CM team. Document your conversation with the negative team member, and his/her reaction.  The first warning should be clear.  Tell him/her that if the negative comments continue, you will have no other option than to ask him/her to step away from the ministry. 


You may never have to deal with the negativity again, but if you do, don’t hesitate to remove him/her from the ministry. For more help, click on the links below

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