Monday, February 25, 2008

Church vs. Parachurch

Here we go, this one will definitely stir up some controversy as far as a fist post goes. I have been processing the difference between church and parachurch, to only come to the conclusion that they must be one in the same for different people, or not valid.
I want to propose this by taking the view that they are the same in purpose despite what our view of "Church" is exactly. Do I think there should be sacraments served in parachurches or baptisms performed? Good questions, wrong conversation. The point is that our current model of church is not very desirable for a great deal of people and is not going to act as a place to encounter community and the Holy. So should a parachurch be able to act as a form of church for the un-churched spiritual seeking person? Yes. This is simply to say that we do not keep God in a building, but our very selves through the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. However, with this you better believe challenges arise. What is the purpose of denominational structure. One of the bigger ones is accountability. As a person who is a member of the Presbyterian Church, trust me, the organization and accountability there are amazing and holy. If a group were to start a parachurch ministry reaching out to people of various hobbies and/or lifestyles then I would say up front, how are you going to be accountable to yourselves and the Gospel? In other words, what is going to keep you in check with making sure that what you do as a Christ embodying individual keeps solid with that of the Bible? I have so many fun answers to what that could be, but for another time perhaps. In the meantime, I want to leave with a quick summary statement. God travels throughout the world via the Church (as a body). He embodies us as a capable reproducing agents of the Gospel that can disciple anyone, on the spot. We have an amazing capacity as Christians to do this and we need the growth of each other (the Church) and God. However, a building and a denomination are perks to a long line of perseverance and structure from certain individuals that does not always seem to fit other people who are foreign and/or uncomfortable with these structures.

2 comments:

Laura said...

Hi Josh,

Good thoughts here. Question: how do you see the parachurch commenting in a way that provides positive and constructive criticism for the organized church? Namely, what can we glean and use in ministry in the South?

Nowhere to be and all day to get there... said...

Good question, I think the parachurch has a great responsibility in not being closed to the doors of the organized church. They have so much to offer and so much to receive. I think an ability that parachurches and missional churches have that the organized church may lack is its ability to exist in the middle of everyday life. They can function in hobbyist clubs, yoga centers, workout gyms, bars, dance clubs and just about anywhere people choose to exist for community. Their model of discipleship in these settings is so real and love-centered (hopefully) that they are able to be real people to just that, real people. This is where they can really contribute to the organized church, taking them with them and showing them how to exist as a holy being in the real world. Lest people fall into a finger-pointing match, I think we have to say what we as churches and organizations can offer the Kingdom of God as individuals to other individuals, and keep the criticism to a truth-driven low. This is just a start but it is a place that the parachurch really should feel obligated to unite with the church, and vice-a-versa.