What do the Scriptures tell us about vetting? Is it ok to require people to pass some sort of character test in order to gain the privileges of leadership or citizenship? Should there be a thorough investigation into someone’s qualifications? This issue has been at the center of the immigration debate for the past few days and I’ve been asked if I believe in vetting.
Yes, I do.
At New Life, we have a thorough vetting process for every level of leadership, the most stringent test being the one for eldership.
An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:6-9
This is quite the list of requirements and should be taken seriously. Paul wrote this as a way of protecting the church from charlatans, immature believers and heretics. It was meant as a screening process to protect the fragile church from people who could harm them.
We also vet volunteers at New Life, especially those wanting to serve in our children’s ministry or with our students. The church should always be wise in who they allow to serve the most vulnerable.
Our government’s primary role, according to Romans 13, is to also make sure people who mean to harm others are stopped before harm can happen. It is both wise and prudent, therefore, to screen immigrants who wish to live in our country. This should be done thoughtfully, humanely and justly. We should hold everyone to the same standards and not discriminate. When the church sees injustice or policies that are not compassionate, we should speak up and defend those who are helpless.
Remember, many of these refugees have lost everything. They have no influence, no community connections, no money and sometimes are suffering from poor health. It’s not as simple as many have described and more difficult than most of us have imagined.
We can be both safe and compassionate at the same time. As a pastor, I understand how difficult this task can seem. I want everyone to serve at our church, but not everyone is ready to serve. As the shepherd of the flock, I must stand watch against wolves. Our government should also stand watch, while not compromising our promise inscribed on the inside pedestal of Lady Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”