The Danger of Parachurch

Throughout my short time in the ministry world so far I have seen a lot of people involved and excited about parachurch ministries. Honestly, I don’t have much excitement for parachurch ministry because my heart is with the local church. I believe God instituted the local church as the center of ministry in this age. Before I go any further, lets define what a parachurch ministry is. A parachurch ministry is a Christian faith-based organization that works outside of and across denominations to engage in social welfare and evangelism, usually independent of church oversight. Basically, a parachurch ministry is any ministry that is not done within or from a local church.

I am not here to bash parachurch ministry. I believe God can use it and is using it to spread the Gospel. I have worked and currently support many parachurch ministries, but I believe there is a danger with parachurch ministry that we need to be aware of. Let me just say that I believe all parachurch ministry are started and ran with a good motivation: to share and spread the Gospel. There are people in the world that will never step foot inside a church so if we do not go out and reach them where they are they may never hear the Gospel. Personally, I believe the church should do this, but I am glad parachurch ministries are going out and reaching people who would never come to church. The danger I see is where parachurch ministries stops.

Here is the danger we must be aware of when dealing with parachurch ministry: Parachurch ministry has a tendency to not connect people with the local church. This problem started back in the 70’s with the Jesus Movement. When teens and young adults didn’t feel welcome in the traditional church and ministries started springing up that gave these teens a place to go where they can express their faith in Christ in their own way. The church at the time didn’t like their new music and such parachurch ministries started springing up and this is also the time mega-churches started rising across the country.

So this is my point. If a parachurch ministry is going to be Biblical and honor God in their ministry endeavors, they must connect the people they reach to a local church. The camp director at Skyview Ranch, Jeremy Hales, says it best: “We exist to support the local church.” Parachurch ministry exist to support the local church. Not replace it because the church isn’t good enough or go where the church isn’t willing to go. Parachurch ministry should be done to support the local church. People who are reached by parachurch ministries need to be a part of a New Testament local church. If we see people reached with the Gospel by a parachurch ministry and never connected to a local church, the job is only half done. The Great Commission has two parts: evangelism and discipleship. Parachurch ministry, if you reach people, connect them to the church where they can be discipled within a community of faith.

I hope everyone who reads this knows I am not against parachurch ministry, but I am against parachurch ministries that do not support and connect people to a local church. I just love the local church! I believe my passion and love for the local church is Biblical and based on God’s Word. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Yes, I realize there is the universal church, the body of Christ, but God builds that body and universal church through local churches.

Last year Rick Warren spoke at Liberty University and said these great words that are worth ending this post with. He said, “My generation of Christians made a huge mistake, they fell in love with the parachurch. I beg you, don’t make that mistake. Fall in love with not Christian organizations, fall in love with the local church…If this generation will love the local church, God will bless you…Don’t invest your life in a parachurch organization, do it through the local church.” 

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. A strong local church is the best way to keep the gospel message and inculcate it in the next generation. Although service “clubs” may do God’s work, the ultimate results would have been so much greater if people had been directed to and absorbed into a church.

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