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International Graduate School of Leadership

Steve Hobson

Church Health
Session 9 & 10

CHURCH & PARACHURCH:


Kingdom Partnership
Overview:
The local church finds along side it (para local church) organizations that are expressions of the universal
church yet different than a local church. Just how the local church and parachurch are to cooperate must be
worked balancing independence and accountability.
Objectives:

By the end of this session you should be able to.....


1. Explain the biblical role and legitimacy of the para-church.
2. Describe and evaluate the six models of how the church and para-church relate to each other.
3. Describe four lessons the church and parachurch can each teach the other.

Sources:

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press. 1994.
Hammett, John S. How Church and Parachurch Should Relate: Arguments for a Servant-Partnership
Model. Missiology: An International Review 28, no. 2 (April 2000): 199-207.
Murray, Edward G. with Dan Clement. Being an Arm of the Church, in Principles of Leadership: What We
Can Learn from the Life and Ministry of Bill Bright, ed. Ted Martin and Michael Cozzens, 343-362.
Orlando, FL: New Life Publications, 2001.
Packer, J.I. Crosscurrents among Evangelicals, in Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a
Common Mission. ed. Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, 147-174. Dallas, TX: Word
Publishing, 1995.
Schaller, Lyle. Strategies for Change. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1993.
Snyder, Howard. The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age. Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 1975.
Stott, John. Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE), International Commission on
Evangelical Cooperation. Co-operating in World Evangelization: A Handbook on Church/Parachurch Relationships. Wheaton, IL: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 1983.
Wagner, C. Peter. Leading Your Church to Growth: The Secret of Pastor/People Partnership in Dynamic
Church Growth. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984.
White, Jerry. The Church and the Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1983.
Willmer, Wesley K. and J. David Schmidt, with Martyn Smith. The Prospering Parachurch: Enlarging the
Boundaries of Gods Kingdom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.
Winter, Ralph D. The Two Structures of Gods Redemption Mission. Missiology: An International Review
2, no. 1 (1974): 121-139.

Introduction:
It is sometimes argued that competition in Christian work is healthy, on the ground that it stimulates and
challenges people, and brings the best out of them. This may be true, as an observed fact. In evangelism, as
in athletics and commerce, competition can be a spur to success. But an empirical fact is not necessarily a
theological truth. Can the competitive spirit in Christian service be defended biblically? . . . Certainly, the
biblical emphasis is rather on co-operation than on competition. (John Stott 1983)
Researchers estimate that worldwide there are more than 100,000 different parachurch groups!
(Willmer and Schmidt 1998, xii)

THE EXISTENCE OF THE PARACHURCH IS BIBLICAL.


The Church (Grk ekklesia) can be understood in two primary senses.
The Universal church All believers from Pentecost to the rapture including the living and the dead
who were truly born again, baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, the church. (Mt 16:13-20 an
indestructible church; Eph 2:15-16 Jew and Gentile united in one but all churches do not have Jews;

Eph 5:23-27 no one local church is the bride of Christ; see also Eph 1:22-23; 3:10; Col 1:18; Heb 12:23.
We are saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 1:2)
The Local church An organized group of water baptized believers voluntarily gathering to worship
God through observing the ordinances (baptism and Lords supper), building each other up in the faith
through teaching the Word and fellowship, and evangelizing the world. 80% of NT uses of ekklesia refer to
local churches (see for example Rom 16:5; Gal 1:1-2; 1 Tim 3:5 for local church references using ekklesia.)
(But note: ekklesia is not the only way to refer to the local or universal church).
The Parachurch can best be seen as part way between both universal and local church ( 3 John 5-8).

Universal church > Parachurch Ministries > Local Church


Biblical examples of parachurch ministries:
Pauls missionary team & other traveling ministries like Apollos (Acts 18:24-28)
Pauls disciples trained at the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10)
When a ministry of the church grows larger than one local fellowship, it does not cease to be a ministry
of the church, it simply ceases to be the ministry of just one local church. (Murray & Clement 2001, 350)
Name for the church and parachurch structures vary:
Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Parachurch
Local church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Para-local church
Congregational structures . . . . . . . Missionary (or Missional) structures
Modality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sodality
I think the modern term parachurch organization is unfortunate, because it implies that these
organizations are somehow beside and therefore outside of the church, whereas in reality they are
simply different parts of the one universal church. (Grudem 1994, 877)

VARIOUS MODELS SHOW HOW THE CHURCH & PARACHURCH ARE TO RELATE.
Six Essential Models/Views are Suggested (Jerry White 1983)
1. Local church only the parachurch has no biblical or theological validity
2. Temporary legitimacy for parachurch when the church has been strengthened by the
parachurch, the need ceases and so the parachurch ministry should end.
3. Legitimacy for church planting parachurch ministries only because the church is priority,
parachurch groups exist only to help plant churches.
4. Church and parachurch are two distinct and legitimate structures both having biblical and
theological support, but the parachurch needs some form of accountability to the church.
5. Dual legitimacy for both structures as God leads within the universal Body of Christ. No direct
accountability required.
6. Anti-structural view that rejects all structures for church anyway. So no argument!
Clearly a partnership between the church and para-church needs to be forged that balances . . .
Service,
Independence,
Accountability.
Suggestions (Hammett 2000):
a. Parachurch staff members are required to be members of a local church.
b. Churches financially and prayerfully support parachurch staff & ministries as partners in ministry.
c. Boards of parachurch ministries include pastors, not only businessmen.
d. Help the fruit of parachurch outreaches to find a home in local churches (e.g., college students)

e. Parachurch leaders should learn to listen/understand church needs; church encourage parachurch.

THE CHURCH AND PARACHURCH OFTEN EVIDENCE VERY DIFFERENT CULTURES.


Peter Wagners chapter about leadership in the church and parachurch (Wagner 1994) is called
Why Bill Bright Is Not Your Pastor. He outlines several helpful insights.
Church and parachurch ministries move along a spectrum as to how they function, and how they are led.
(adapted from Wagner 1994, 157 and Schaller 1993, 15-30)

Congregational structure
Modality leader
Missional structure
Sodality leader
Church (voluntary association)
Diverse beliefs and goals
Stresses belonging, being
People-oriented
Govern by consensus, authority w/ people
Maintenance-oriented
Biological growth
Commitment levels vary widely
Generally lower commitment/discipline

Parachrch (movemnt, covenant community)


Like minded beliefs and goals
Stresses goals, doing
Task-oriented
Govern by vision, authority w/ leader
Mission-oriented
Second-decision growth
Higher commitment & trust
Generally higher comm/discipline

1. Where does your church or ministry fall on this spectrum?

2. What implications do you see for church parachurch relationships?

3. What implications do you see for leadership styles?

4. What implications do you see for organizational values? For the development of people in the ministry?

5. Which end of the spectrum would have the greater potential for external ministry impact/growth?

LEADERSHIP STYLES
AUTHORITATIVE (initiating)
Higher control More authority asserted
*Leader
*Visionary
*Goal Setter/Motivator
PEOPLE ORIENTED
* Doer, Serving
* Chaplain
* Shepherd
(Leader ministers chiefly)
(Group leads)

Congregational

Missional
TASK ORIENTED
* Equipper
* Delegator
* Rancher (over shepherds)
(Group ministers chiefly)
(Leader leads)

PARTICIPATORY (responding)
Lower control Less authority asserted
* Administrator
* Implementer
* Enabler, supportive

LESSONS FOR THE CHURCH, FROM THE PARACHURCH.


A. High commitment yields greater results membership needs to be taken more seriously.
Raising the requirements and expectations for member commitment and involvement in the church
challenges people to grow. Offer equipping and training opportunities to help people do what Christ is
asking for! Make the new member class longer and more challenging/motivating.
B. Clarify vision and values of the church call people to live out the calling of God for them.
Do this as a team, building ownership as the process unfolds. Three dimensions of leadership are
needed: Task (clear goals, structures to accomplish goals), Relationship, Vision (that grips the heart).
Dont forget vision! Servant-steward leaders remember they will answer to God for the ministry goals
he has laid out before them.

LESSONS FOR THE PARACHURCH, FROM THE CHURCH.


A. Leadership must develop staff and volunteers not merely use them.
People will not stay long or grow strong with an organization that merely uses them. Three dimensions
of leadership are needed: Task, Relationship (support), Vision. Dont forget relationships! Servantsteward leaders develop the individuals of their ministry team.
B. Leadership needs to develop a flexible style in order to meet the needs of the task, followers, situation
and relational dynamic between leader and follower.
Servant-steward leaders do not demand that people adjust their expectations to fit the leader. But they
adjust their leadership style to meet the task/relational/visionary needs of the situation.
The tendency of the establishment to control individual initiatives runs the risk of quenching the Spirit. The
tendency of voluntary organizations to insist on their independence runs the risk of ignoring the Body. It is the
age-old tension between authority and freedom. To quench the Spirit and to ignore the Body are both serious
sins; they grieve the Christ whose Body and Spirit they are. It is, therefore, basic to our evangelical
responsibility that in all our labors and relationships we should magnify Christ by seeking simultaneously to
give honor to his Body and liberty to his Spirit. (John Stott 1983, 7)