The Church vs. Para-church?
In this corner the champion, the local church and in this corner the challenger, a para-church organization. Looks to be the fight of the century! The church out matches para-church in size and strength, but para-church feels like it is going to be able to expose weaknesses that the church has and capitalize one them. So, here it begins the start of round one…
Sadly, this hyped up fantasy is no fantasy in today’s world. It is the nightmare of the Christian world. The para-church sees the weaknesses in the church and wants to fix it. The church feels threatened by the expertise that the para-church offers. The para-church gets disgusted at the controlling mentality of the church and writes it off. The church senses that and distrusts any para-church organization. It is a never ending escalating cycle.
The truth of the matter is, there is no need to work against each other. Both the church and the para-church are fighting for the same cause. They should not be a Kobe and Shaq combo competing for the ball to get the most points, but rather they should be more like a John Stockton and Karl Malone combo working together to achieve the ultimate cause. Jesus says in John 13: 34-35 that we are known as His disciples by the love expressed for one another. This principle applies even to the church, para-church relationship. As believing institutions, both the church and the para-church should demonstrate the Christ like love that is characteristic of all believers.
Working for both a local church and a para-church organization, I feel the tension that exists. The truth is this, Christ established the church as His earthly representative (Matt 16:18-19, and Acts 1:8). Para-church organizations literally mean to come alongside of the church. Their whole goal is not to replace the church, but rather to build it up and enable it to do the task it was created to do.
Here at Youth Missions International, we seek to achieve this Biblical goal. Our whole objective is to come alongside local churches and to build them up and enhance the local ministry that is taking place. We do this locally by training people on how to evangelize and with church run sports camp out reaches. Internationally we do this by sending teams to the field as a tool for the church there to use, and by starting mission training organizations run by locals in other countries. My job is to bridge this apparent gap and find out how we can best serve the local church. We are on the same team, with the same goal, serving the same Master. It is about time that we start playing like teammates and not rivals.