In 1990, a few of us who started out on this simple church adventure had to make a difficult decision: Should we incorporate? After all, one of the things that we felt was important was to make room for the priesthood of all believers and de-emphasize the hierarchy that characterizes so many churches today. Shouldn’t we avoid, like the proverbial plague, anything that smacked of organization?
Ultimately, we concluded that there were some advantages that we could offer to the fellowships if we established a minimal organizational structure. Below, is a description of services that the network can provide its partners:
- Mutual encouragement and accountability.
- Logistical help. Assist with tables, chairs and other practical needs of a small-group church.
- Tax deductible giving. For those whose conscience permits the use of this option.
- Communication support. Helping interested persons find a suitable fellowship. This includes maintaining the summithome.org website and phone number and facilitating contact between seekers and the various fellowships.
- Social networking hub.
- Recognition of ministers. When official authorization for “clergy” services is required, the Summit Fellowships may provide that. Fundamentally, we do not recognize a “clergy/laity” distinction, however doing the work of the church in the world sometimes requires an accommodation to the institutional understanding that is held by local authority.
With respect to giving (or tithing, if you prefer) this is the position of The Summit Fellowships:
- Tithing is an Old Testament law from which springs a New Testament principle namely, abundant generosity.
- No person or institution has a prior claim on your money. How you exercise your privilege of generosity is between you and God.
- Where, or to whom, you give is your decision, therefore, you may choose to give to an organization or a person. James 2:15-16 states,
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?
- Or, you may want to pool your giving with the other members of your church family and seek together where to release those funds.
- You may want to specify a gift to the network of churches.
Finances and the Summit Network
The Summit network also exists to assist the fellowships with financial matters.
- The Summit Fellowships maintains a bank account to hold money for the various fellowships. Participation is voluntary. At their discretion, some fellowships maintain their own bank account.
- Any giving that comes to The Summit Fellowships is credited to the house church of the donor unless otherwise specified.
- Funds given to a specific fellowship are held until the group decides how they should be used. The network treasurer will send out periodic balance sheets to help groups keep track of available ministry resources.
- The network maintains giving records for individuals and for each Summit Fellowship that uses the network account. This includes an annual statement of giving for tax purposes.
- The Summit Fellowships, Inc. can provide administrative services for workers within the community of fellowships, for example a congregation may want to provide partial support for a member who devotes a significant amount of time serving the community. The Summit Fellowships does not have “employees.”
- Occasionally, the network may have a financial need. At such times the need will be published to the community of fellowships. As always, giving is voluntary.