Parachurch Organizations

Church of Christ, parachurch No Comments

F. LaGard Smith in his book, Fallen Spiritual Leaders, has a chapter dealing with parachurch organizations.  Some of the thoughts he conveys in that chapter are given below.

Definition of parachurch organizations.  “Parachurch includes the hundreds of independent religious organizations throughout the country–sometimes involved in radio and television programs–and other church-related, yet church-distinct organizaions.  The parachurch phenomenon is a hungry beast which never stops being hungry.  Over and over again it demands to be fed.  It growls and threatens disaster if you ignore it. And even when you feed it, it can turn on you.  It can devour its superstar trainers and often bites the hands that feed it” (p. 84).

Distinction between parachurch organizations and the church.  “The very word “parachurch” ought to be a clue.  “Parachurch” is not the church (church of Christ-DS).  “Parachurch is something other than the church, something beyond the church.  It is the church Christ died for, not the “parachurch.”  It is the church that is the bride of Christ, not the “parachurch.”  It is the church to which the saved are added, not the “parachurch.” It is through the church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known, not through the “parachurch” (p. 84).  “There are essential and functional differences between the church and parachurch organizations.  For the church, there is a scriptural pattern of work and worship.  For parachurch organizations, human creativity is the limit of all possibilities.  For the church, financial solvency follows from biblical principles of cheerful giving.  For parachurch organizations, there is too much evidence of giving done from emotinoal coercion, guilt, and gimmickry.  For the church, financial accountability is the responsibility of grassroots spiritual oversight.  For parachurch organizations, financial accountability may be the sole responsibility of next of kin” (pp. 84-85).  “Parachurch means like the church, but not the same.  Similar but different.  And, just as with dangerous frauds, the greater the similarity, the greater the deception” (p. 85).

Dangers of parachurch organizations.  Speaking of Christian colleges, Smith remarks, “By virtue of sheer visibility, fiscal superiority, and scope of influence, Christian colleges can actually dwarf the churches with which they are tied.  It can happen when highly respected university leaders are perceived to speak on behalf of the church itself; when what is taught at Christian colleges influences the thinking of the church in the next generation; and when Christian college campuses become the “Mars Hills” of doctrinal discussion” (p. 87).  “The risks of parachurch organizatons, in whatever form they might exist, always seem the same.  When we look in every respect like the church, but are in fact different from the church, we are bound to confuse a lot of people, often even ourselves” (p. 87).  Speaking of various scandals found among parachurch organizations, Smith states, “The plain fact is that church-related organizations are far more susceptible to this kind of disgrace than is the church itself.  It’s a timely reminder that God set up the church as he intended it, in order to carry out his work on earth.  We have no reason to tamper with his divine plan” (p. 90).
Think on these things!