Para-church ministries

From "The Community of the King," by Howard Snyder:

"When we look at the contemporary church, we see not only the community of God's people; we find also a proliferation of local church organizations, denominations, institutions, agencies, associations and so forth. Such structures obviously have no biblical basis. How should we view them?

The two most common tendencies have been either to say these structures are actually a part of the essence of the church, and thus sacralize them, or to take an anti-institutional stance and say all such structures are invalid and must be abandoned.......

A more helpful option, however, is to view all institutional structures as para-church structures which exist alongside of  and parallel to the community of God's people but are not themselves the church.....they exist along side or parallel to the church community; and they exist ostensibly to serve the church."

For some time I took the second stance, that all institutions must be abandoned. In fact I thought they would have been mostly abandoned by now when people found they had a choice. (I was obviously wrong about my expectation.)

Has anyone thought of Snyder's option, of seeing these things as "serving" the church?

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Replies (1)
    • Dan, good to see you. Salutations!

      Congratulations on your exciting new book, available free in audio and text.

      My, my in the 1800's several denominations had long debates about the legitimacy of even mission boards. Definitely bureaucracy has taken its toll in the church and in the corporate as well as political realms.

      Charles Spurgeon used to pray: Lord, lead me not into a committee.  :)

      In contrast to para-church ministries, the scriptures emphasize indvidual responsibility. For the good of the body, of course. If you can do it - you may do it, so to speak.

      We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Rom. 12:6-8 

      A para-church ministry, in my opinion, still could have its place just as Professor Snyder suggests. It might even be temporary. Just for a specific project. Considering our freedom in Christ, I would not be overly judgmental about a specific ministry undertaken by others.

      Wonder what happened to Howard Snyder? He's definitely retirement age by now. A real pioneer and a good example of a righteous life.

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