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Parachurch services, at least as we in the West understand them, are relatively new in the history of the Christian church. The fact that we call ourselves a “parachurch” ministry means that they work alongside – and in addition to – private or affiliated church structures.
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This may not strike many of us today as strange, because we are so used to church services. But since the New Testament says a lot about the church, and not a lot about parachurches, we have to ask if parachurch services are valid – and if so, why?
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I will not attempt a complete answer, but I will suggest a way of looking at the role of para-church ministries in serving the church that Jesus was coming to buy and build.
When Peter made a wonderful confession about the wonderful truth of who Jesus really is, Jesus said to Peter,
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but to the Father in heaven. And I say to you: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:16-18)
What Jesus said about Peter himself has been the subject of much debate over the centuries. But Peter’s place, considered as it was (and still is), was not very open at this time. The great revelation was what Jesus called “my church.”
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. For speakers of first century Greece, this was not a new or unique word. They use it often, in fact, in the same ways we use words
Where he describes both the orderly meeting of the courts of Ephesus (Acts 19:39) and the chaotic meeting of shouting anti-Christian protesters in the theater (Acts 19:41 ).
What gave unprecedented importance to the gathering, the gathering, the congregation, the community that Jesus spoke of here was the singular possessive pronoun.
) – because he belonged to Jesus and would be united with Jesus, who said, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). If death could not take hold of Jesus (Acts 2:24), it could not take hold of his people, his meeting, his church.
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You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who belong to him, that you may call the kingdom of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).
The most important thing in Jesus’ statement to Peter, and indeed the main focus of the New Testament record is that Jesus came to redeem, to establish, to build, and finally to return to gather his victory over death.
In the New Testament, local churches were visible gatherings of “saints” (Romans 1:7), bound together by a shared belief in the gospel and progress (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and were consider themselves part of the “Aboriginal house”. God” (1 Timothy 3:15), over elders (spiritually mature men with visible character who were ‘able to teach,’ 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), and the served by deacons (spiritually mature men and women who were faithful servants, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
, Christian organizational structures that are not churches and are not directly under the leadership of a local church or a group or family of churches (what we often call in the West a group). The closest would be missionary groups, such as Paul’s, which were not churches themselves. It seems, however, that they are commissioned by the churches (Acts 13:1-3), submit to the apostolic authority that governs the churches (Acts 15), and focus on the job of planting new churches – completely connected to those that are emerging. . church buildings.
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Two centuries later, today’s Christian world is filled with many non-congregational ministries and often work independently of any particular church or group: missionary groups, campus ministries and student ministries, relief and development organizations, higher education institutions, teaching and resource services, (as God desires), and many other genres.
. It depends on the extent to which the ministry of the church wants to serve the church of Christ carefully and carefully by freeing the local churches so that they can focus and fulfill their main calling – perhaps in a special way similar to what we see in Acts 6.
In the book of Acts 6, the rapid growth and diversity of the members of that first church in Jerusalem caused a great problem: the Greek widows were neglected in the “daily portion” of food (Acts 6:1). The twelve apostles were urged to intervene. But realizing that this need, although important, would take them away from their main calling (Acts 6:4), they asked the people to choose seven able, honorable men who could work for everyone by finding a solution. These seven were the first deacons.
, another common word, meaning servant. Like those seven early men in Acts 6, official “deacons” functioned within the structure of the first century churches in a variety of practical ways that freed up priestly elders to focus on teaching and governing the church. .
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I do not have space here to adequately describe the explosion in parachurch services over the past two hundred years. Among many other factors, an important contribution was the diversity of denominations that emerged after the Protestant Reformation, the rise of socio-economic and cultural forces and values influenced by the arrival of Western democracies, developing tax codes to promote religious beliefs. well established. jobs, and scientific and technological advances that have produced unprecedented levels of knowledge in almost every aspect of life.
But considering all these things (and more), I believe, in God’s providence, that the parachurch ministries seemed to have done the same in most local churches (in all names and even around the world) that the deacons do (and do) within the local church: they serve the churches in ways of diversity of action that allow with these churches focus and fulfill their main duties.
Do not misunderstand: I am not saying that Acts 6 is a call to the independent church, but I see here a possible analog for it. Parachurch services should not replace the work of local churches as deacons should not replace the work of elders. Parachurch ministries must strive to support, cooperate with, and provide for Christians and local churches so that they can focus and fulfill what God expects from the church.
To deacons, but I understand that the truth is not as neat as the divisions we create. We can all point to parachurch ministries that may act more like a local church than they should, some out of necessity and others in inappropriate ways. And even if the parameter ministry is consciously and carefully trying to serve the church of Christ, some Christians may choose to regretfully use the ministry as a substitute for the church.
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But we at God’s Desire – a para-church ministry – love the church, the bride and the body of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to pursue ministry strategies that encourage, equip, support and strengthen local churches. And except in rare cases where there is no other choice, we do not support the attempt by anyone personally involved in the life of faithful local churches to change through our content or online communication.
We believe that Jesus came to earth to win himself a bride (Revelation 21:9), to redeem himself physically (Ephesians 5:23), to redeem a holy nation (Revelation 5:9; 1 Peter 2:9), and to revive the holy temple (Ephesians 2:20-21) ) and build a church (Matthew 16:18). We believe that Jesus loves his universal church (Ephesians 5:25), every faithful local church (Revelation 3:22), and every member of his true church (1 Corinthians 12:27). And we believe that he concluded “through the church the wisdom of the diversity of God is now known to the rulers and authorities in the heavens” (Ephesians 3:10).
Jesus will build that church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Through the church, God manifests his manifold wisdom in cosmic power. It is the church that Jesus died to buy, and it is his greatest love. Therefore, everything that a church parameter like ours does must be done for the love of the church of Jesus, locally and worldwide.
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