We’re in the middle of a several-week series called Topical Tuesdays, where you pick the topic and I make up answers.  You can add your topic / question to the list by commenting on this post.  Today’s question is submitted by Mike Gifford:

Should covenant members be the only ones that serve on ministry teams?

Nope.  Next question!

Actually Mike, that’s a great question (face it, the question wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t moderately awesome).  The short answer is that we do not restrict serving opportunities to our covenant members.  While there are some leadership roles that require membership, just about all of our teams are open to those who are still checking out the Summit.  There are a couple of reasons for that:

  1. Teams provide context. There’s nothing like a smaller community in order to define your church experience.  It’s through serving on a team (or attending a small group) that you get the inside track.  You begin to learn the vibe of the church, and you build relationships like crazy.
  2. Teams provide evangelistic opportunity. We have many cases where people are serving on teams and they’re not yet Christ-followers.  Serving alongside other believers provides multiple real-life conversations which often lead people to the truth of the gospel.

Obviously, we want to move every volunteer towards covenant membership.  Some of our teams have grace periods of several months, but at the end of that time membership is required.  The reason for that is because we want to build spiritual, relational accountability into the serving relationships at the Summit.

An obvious question follows this discussion: How do we ensure that “the wrong people” aren’t serving?  Can just anyone serve? The answer: it depends.  There are some “low-risk” serving opportunities (worship choir, First Impressions team) where an unbeliever is in a relative safe zone and surrounded by experienced volunteers who know the expectations.  However, when it comes to serving with minors, every volunteer – brand new or here for 30 years – must submit to a thorough background check.  No background check, no access.  And even those with a background check may not serve in a leadership position prior to a six-month period.

So the next time you’re dropping your kid off in the nursery to the guy with the eyepatch, multiple tats, and a running chainsaw, remember: he’s been cleared.  Relax.

Next week: What are you doing to make sure your sons don’t grow up to be wimpy pansies?