Hiring a Non-Believer at a church? WHAT!

What would you say to the Church that hires unbelievers to provide a service to the local Church body?  I was recently challenged by this very question.   I know that many would have a hard time knowing that the Church would in fact hire an unbeliever.   Don’t get me wrong we wouldn’t want an unbeliever running the discipleship at our Church, making decisions on the Church’s strategic plan, overseeing Church ministries just as God didn’t allow the gentile to be priest.  But say for instance the church hires an unbeliever to provide a food service, operate a cash register, a security guard, parking attendant, etc.  Many of you might say that those are still crucial to the Church’s function and only believers should occupy those roles.  There could be a lot of what if scenarios, but hopefully looking at some Old Testament scriptures might shed some light on how mission critical this might be.

When we consider the children of Israel and their role toward other nations we see that not only did the Children of Israel benefit from God’s choosing but also the alien, the foreigner, and sojourner.  God’s choosing came with some great benefits, for example the Sabbath day was to be enjoyed as a day of REST.  The “shemitta” law, from the Hebrew word “release” was a time of releasing debts, freeing of slaves (slaves were primarily aliens that were providing a service, but only the Israelite slaves were freed during this time), and lastly the year of Jubilee which not only released debts, freed slaves, and many times if the Israelite so chooses could release lands that were once occupied by the children of Israel to the foreigner (Deut 15:1-2, Lev 25:8-55) .  You see!  Not only did God’s people benefit from God’s character, but all of those who came in contact with His people.  God’s plan was for all other peoples, and nations to see and experience His character through the children of Israel and by this be drawn to His Grace, His Laws, and His plan for reconciliation.

At the Rock Church we have seen the unbeliever while providing services be drawn to the Lord’s plan of salvation, repent and have a personal relationship with his/her creator.  Just as the children of Israel welcomed the alien, and the foreigner (to provide services) and sojourner into their congregation to experience God’s great love we too should embrace the potential of one unbeliever (who would provide a service) to experience God’s love within our congregation.

Feb 2012
AUTHOR Shawn Wagner


COMMENTS 20 Comments

20 Responses to “Hiring a Non-Believer at a church? WHAT!”

  1. I agree! Sometimes a key to having someone open their heart to the gospel is for them to feel accepted and cared for by people in the church. That can come with an invitation to church, by becoming their friend, or . . . by giving them a job. It is a ministry unto itself.

    • Shawn Wagner says:

      Thanks for your reply Jen! I beleive that it is mission critical of the Church to not be close minded when it comes to some of the services a non-believer could provide to the Church body.

    • Harriet says:

      I completely agree with this! This is big, getting out of your box thinking and “Pervasive Hope” in the house of God! Thank you for writing this article, Pastor Shawn.

  2. Mark says:

    Spot on with this blog! What a better place to be than surrounded by a loving church body!

  3. Kathy says:

    What about hiring a person for a technical (non-teaching) position who practices forms of new age religion (relaxation and healing techniques) during the rest of the week? Yes it’s an opportunity for that person to be brought into relationship with God, but is it in fact inviting demonic influences into the church? I know God is more powerful, but spiritual powers are real and I don’t want to take it lightly.

    • Kyle says:

      Meditation is a “demonic influence”? Wow…

      • Joe says:

        Kyle, meditation is simply contemplation, which is not restricted to new age mysticism. In fact, Psalm 1:1-2 states, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Here, meditation (contemplation) on the Word of God is seen as a admirable practice. In contrast, if a person is contemplating (meditation upon) new age mysticism (a practice which would have been punishable by stoning in ancient Israel), then they are inviting all sorts of problems. These problems may include demonic influence. So, Kathy has made an appropriate point.

  4. Arnie says:

    Well, we’re either going to live by God’s word, or we’re not. i’m for the former. although it may seem uncomfortable or even odd, it’s a necessity. Why? the stats are of 100% of the church only 20 – 30% actually serve. that means there are at least the same people that serve week in and week out and sometimes more than one service, to meet the needs of service. to put this perspective, if everyone at the rock Church served, you would only have to serve 1 service once every 6 months to a year.
    Now consider this, what better way to reach out to your city, using pervasive hope, than being a blessing to a non-believer by giving them a “JOB” in an environment filled the love of the Lord? just sayin’

    peace out

  5. Peter Giordano says:

    This is essentially the conundrum that the Catholic Church is dealing with in the ongoing religious/political confrontation.
    As the Apostle Paul points out in Romans 1: “…who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
    The question to ask beyond the good intention of hiring a non-believer is are they willing to obey the precepts established by the church employer, or are they going to suppress the truth to make a political point. Or will they be a false witness to other unbelievers as to what biblical truth proclaims, in that they represent the church as an employee?
    Even in the Hebrew scriptures, the sojourner was to obey the religious law that applied to the Jews if they wanted to work and abide with them, and benefit from the same blessings.
    And yes, there is demonic influence that becomes entrenched through an incremental denial of evil by those who would know God but accommodate the culture. As Paul warns, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
    In Revelation, there are seven churches mentioned, and all but one had fallen away. The church in Corinth should serve as a warning too, Paul writes two letters to deal with unbelief due to cultural intrusions.
    So should unbelievers bring their expertise to the church? Yes, for the mutual benefits derived, but with conditions.
    In the end this shouldn’t be an intellectual, emotional, or theological question, our way is guided by scripture.
    The Holy spirit has provided imperatives we need to be cognizant of.
    We can’t dance around the truth in Jesus, who atoned for our sins by His death, and resurrection. This church is His church. The love starts with Jesus,ours in obedience.

  6. James says:

    What would you say to the Church that hires unbelievers to provide a service to the local Church body?

    I would answer: Is there no qualified believer who could perform that same responsibility? What are the key values of that church? Do they include a beleief in the resurrected Lord? Why would the church hire employees who do not share those key values?

    Are we to think that because God, in times past, chose to use people who were not Israelites to one effect or another that gives the church license to hire unbelievers? Did God ever give Israel license to allow non-Hebrews to attend to the temple work–even mundane tasks such as cleaning out the blood or entrails of the dead animals from the altar?

    Do we have any New Testament examples of this within the church? When the apostles cought to appoint men to take care of tasks such as attending to the feeding of the widows in order that they could focus on the teaching of God’s Word (arguably a much more fitting example from Scripture than the one offered in blog), did they appoint heathen who were skilled at food service? See Acts 6:1-7.

    Lets be careful to compare apples to apples when turning to Scripture for our examples. Remember, the Word of God has been unjustly used to support wars and all manner of sin. Let’s be responsible in our handling of Scripture and look to the obvious examples for answers to our questions rather than the obscure.

  7. Steve Wright says:

    We rely almost entirely on volunteers for the needs of the church, but if we had the funds and desire to hire fulltime employees there are dozens and dozens of brothers and sisters needing work that would get a paycheck from the Lord’s funds before we would seek out unbelievers. Do good to all, yes, but especially those of the household of faith. We certainly are more generous in providing assistance to the needy brothers and sisters in the body than we are to someone walking off the street looking for help – though we try to help that person too for a smaller amount. Do I understand the main argument here is to provide employment in hopes of leading that person to the Lord? What other benefits to the church are there to justify the overseers making such a decision. Will an unbeliever (by definition since no stereotype fits all) be expected to work harder, be more honest, not sue in case of a dispute etc. What if the church discovers the unbeliever is using his paycheck (which is the Lord’s money first) for perfectly legal, but sinful, purposes. At that point, there would be no legal grounds for termination, and to do so would invite a lawsuit upon the church. I fail to see any purpose here, or the relevance of the OT texts that are mentioned.

  8. Joe says:

    I have a question. Some of the Scripture usage sounded odd to me, so I went to Leviticus 25:39-55 to check it out. I could not harmonize the conclusions of the article with the provided texts. Is this article in line (properly interpreting) with the text? If so, could you show me how?

    From the text, it is clear that the “strangers and sojourners” are Israeli, as they are later called the ones “whom I [The Lord] brought out of the land of Egypt,” and “brethren, the children of Israel.”

    The other slaves are said to come from the “Nations.” Of them it says, “you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves.” This seems to contradict the article.

    • Shawn Wagner says:

      Hi Joe,

      I really appreciate your critique and reply to my post. I have over the past few days been studying further on this topic and have come to the same conclusion as you did. The Strangers and sojourners could mean both a non relative Israelite, but still an Israelite or someone from outside the Israelite tribes all together. Also in the context the alien slaves were to remain slaves and an inheritance to the owning Israelite family. Although There were many laws that would protect these slaves from being mistreated, it doesn’t appear that they were a beneficiary to the “shemitta” law. In further examination there were some benefits for those alien/sojourners (from other nations) who came in contact with the Israelite nation as they experienced God’s character. Some even became very prosperous (v.45,47). Nevertheless these laws exemplify God’s Character for the less fortunate, the poor and a plan for restoration. I beleive that is the vital truth found in the text. My Original post was designed to get feed back from an ever increasing question about hiring a non-believer to provide such services as house keeping, food service, catering, security, sub contractors for technical support, parking attendance, etc. I believe that both opinions on whether or not this is good idea both have very valid points and are worth discussing. Thanks again for your post!

  9. Joseph says:

    I do not think there is anything wrong with this practce, as long as there are no qualified believers that can perform the same task. It is true that we have to help others, but how can we do it if we do not care first for our own brothers and sisters in need? Also, what guarantees that a non-believer will meet Jesus just because he was given a job at a Church?

  10. Craig says:

    Ya, just don’t think this is a good idea at all. Opens up too many potential problems, in so many different ways. What about when you get a homosexual applicant? Wow, used to like the rock church. There are so many other ways to reach the lost.

  11. danielle says:

    as i read this post my first reaction was that there are so many people in the church body in need of work. however, God places us in different places to serve Him anywhere. wouldn’t it harvest more fruit for His Kingdom to spread us out to shine His light wherever we may be? the Christian in a corporate job and the non-believer working at a church seems like it would be abundant in spreading His Glory. it all goes hand in hand with the pervasive hope campaign too.

  12. Brooke says:

    I can understand a cash register job, parking attendant, or maintenance person to be hired if they are a non-believer (I do think believers should be offered the job FIRST… take care of the Body first) However, I know a woman who’s son is not a Christian (in fact, he’s an open homosexual) and he is paid to lead worship at a church. I think that is HIGHLY UNACCEPTABLE. It’s almost blasphemous to have someone who doesn’t love God leading worship (something so crucial that should be led in sincerity)

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