Ken Yeo 杨全荣的个人网站
Ken Yeo 杨全荣的个人网站

My current View of the Validity of Parachurch Ministries

This paper will address the topic of parachurch and will argue that the parachurch movement is a valid form of Christian ministry. First, I will provide biblical, theological, and historical support for my thesis. Then, I will discuss the positive impacts and negative effects of parachurch ministries on the modern church.

Biblically, the ministry of the apostle Paul with his coworkers is a biblical example of parachurch ministry. Silas came from Jerusalem, Timothy came from Lystra, and Luke probably came from Troas. Although not from the same local church, they worked together, operated under the direction of the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:7), in partnership with the local churches (Phil 4:16), for the mission of God. Thus, the parachurch movement is not a less than ideal situation because the churches did not do their job. Instead, together with the local churches, these two models are God’s ordained ways to accomplish His mission.[1]

Theologically, missiology has a concept of modalities and sodalities. Modalities refer to local churches and denominations, and sodalities refer to parachurch ministries. Parachurches are platforms for Christians across denominations boundaries to work together as members of the body of Christ[2]. Christians from different denominations and local churches serving the same mission is also a great testimony of the doctrine of unity of the body of Christ (Eph 4:3 2:2).

Historically, God has consistently worked in two structures to accomplish His missions[3]. The early church apologists and “schools” of learning were the earliest examples.[4] Next, God used the monasteries in the middle ages outside of the local churches to carry out His missions. Post reformation, the local churches lost focus on evangelism until William Carey’s proposal of “the use of means” started the missionary movements in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Parachurch ministries have brought many positive impacts to the church. They enable believers from different denominations, local churches, and diverse locations to serve together for greater impacts on the mission of God[5]. For example, it is tough for local churches to replicate the role of mission agencies in sending out missionaries to unreached people groups.

However, parachurch ministries also brought some negative effects to the church. They often create tensions for resources in terms of people and finance with the local churches[6]. Some believers only involve in parachurch ministries in place of local church fellowship[7]. Often parachurch ministries became the excuse of churches not to do their part in certain ministries.

In conclusion, parachurch ministries are valid forms of ministries with biblical, theological, and historical support. They have brought tremendous positive impacts and some negative effects to the modern church.

[1] For a details argument of this claim, see Frank Severn, “Mission Societies: Are They Biblical?,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 36, no. 3 (September 2000).

[2] Edmund P. Clowney and Gerald Lewis Bray, The Church, Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 107.

[3] For an overview of how God worked in two structures throughout church history, see Ralph Winter, “The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission,” in Perspectives, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009).

[4] Michael Svigel, “Powerpoint for ST5105 Lecture 7, The Purpose and Function of the Church” (Dallas, TX, 2021).

[5] For an overview of how voluntary societies were instruments to further the great commission, overcoming the limitations of local churches, see Andrew Walls, “Missionary Societies and the Fortunate Subversion of the Church,” in Perspectives, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009).

[6] For a helpful article on how churches and parachurch ministries can work together, see John Hammett, “The Mission of the Church As A Mark of The Church,” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 5 (2008): 37–38.

[7] This is especially true for the rich and famous, see Michael Lindsay, “A Gated Community in the Evangelical World,” USA Today, February 11, 2008.

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