is there a case for para-church?

Recently I’ve been questioning the validity of para-church organisations.  I am a person who has been so deeply changed by various para-church organisations such as this one, that i feel i owe my life to them and yet I wonder if this is where it’s at.

God is executing a plan where one day people of all nations will stand in community in worship of the living God as King.  God is executing a plan where all things on heaven and on earth will be reconciled to himself through Christ.  God is executing a plan where there will be no more sin or suffering, where broken lives and a broken world is restored and renewed, where dead things will live and bear fruit, where all things are made new.  God is bringing his kingdom under his rule under his love.

But how?  Well through the church. Gods people, Christ’s body.  Chris Wright says it like this – “our mission . . . means our committed participation as God’ s people, at God invitation and command, in God’ s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation”

God bringing his kingdom through Christ’s body (us) with Christ as the head of the church.

My question is this however – is there a difference in saying that God accomplishes his plan through the church as expressed in the local church rather than that God accomplishes his plan through the church in whatever form that takes – eg someone who is individually seeking to join in on what God is doing even though they might not at all be a member of a local church or indeed something that takes the form of what we refer to as a para-church organisation? If it is the latter then why bother with the local church?  if it is the former then what is the case for para-church?

I’m not saying that these organisations are bad, nor am i saying that they don’t succeed in doing amazing things or helping people come to know God, but is their existence a reflection of actual need or only need that exists because the local church has failed to be the church?  If so then should our energies not be spent on helping the church BE the church rather than Christians separately finding new ways to do the things that should be birthed out of the local church?

I feel like we’ve lost confidence in the church and with good reason, and yet without any good reason for if this is how God has chosen to do it then all that is left for us to do is to submit.

Or maybe i’m seeing distinctions that don’t and shouldn’t exist?


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3 Comments on “is there a case for para-church?”

  1. […] This post is inspired by my dear friend Transfarmer. […]

  2. Doug Says:

    A pastor that I know and respect answered it this way, “The para-church is a disobedient response to the church’s disobedience.” Hmmm. Where to go from here…

    • transfarmer Says:

      Hi Doug, this is a very old post but still a question I have not resolved. I appreciate your pastors response and would like to hear more on where you think we should go from that!

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