Elders are called to protect the church from people who would do them spiritual harm (wolves among the sheep). One of the ways we try to do that in our church is by not allowing people to get very involved in the life of the congregation until they are members.
So in our church, non-members are welcome to attend and participate in the public services of the church. We are happy to have them in our Sunday morning gathering, our Sunday evening gathering, and our fellowship meals.
But we don't let people attend small groups or serve among the children or lead music until they are members. In order to join the church, a person must be examined by the elders and approved by the congregation. Once a person has been through that process, we feel reasonably comfortable that they are safe (that is to say, not a wolf).
But until the point, we don't want to encourage people in the church to look to that person as a leader by putting them up in front of the congregation to lead singing. We don't want them teaching the children of the church. We don't want people to completely let their guard down and trust them in the way we ask members to trust each other in small groups.
People who are "regular attenders" but who haven't joined the church sometimes feel like our policy is exclusive. But ultimately my responsibility is to the flock over which the Spirit has made me an overseer. And besides, they are welcome to pursue church membership at any time.
I agree with this Michael McKinley. I do not think non-members, those unwilling to commit to the body fully by an act of joining should be teaching, training, or toying with God's people.
What is your opinion?
Why do you think people become time attenders, even financial supporters, and consider themselves apart of the church and yet will not become official members?
Do you think a body of Elders can affectively shepherd,
equip, and even discipline non-members.
Why? or Why not?