First let us examine the word “parachurch.”
WHAT IS PARACHURCH?
Recently I read a book that sought to explain the nature of the church. One title in the book was “What Is the Relationship of the Church to Parachurch Organizations?” The author made the following observation:
“The Bible is clear that it is through the Church that God is going to accomplish His great purpose. However, the Church has not always been what it was supposed to be. For that reason, many believers have become discouraged with the Church. They have seen that the Church, as it is, has not met certain obvious needs.
“Caring and concerned Christians have wanted to meet these pressing needs. For this reason, they have established missionary societies, orphanages, Christian business men’s organizations and other similar institutions.
(Editor’s note: These organizations are often called “parachurch ministries.” The word “parachurch” means “outside the Church,” or “alongside the Church.”)
“As God continues to restore and strengthen His Church, the need for these organizations will diminish. Church fellowships will be ministering to the needs of people everywhere.”
It is obvious in the above quotation that the writer felt strongly that parachurch was not really church at all. It seems he felt that something less than church had come along until the real church could be healed or awakened to do the work it ought to be doing.
This is a classic example of the following idea: “If it doesn’t look like a church it isn’t a church.”
The fact is — When a “parachurch” organization is made up of born-again believers in Jesus who are come together to serve and worship Him, it is not “parachurch,” — it is church!
CHURCH IS PEOPLE
Church is not organization, institution or denomination. It is “people moving together under the lordship of Jesus.”
It would be difficult to find a true “parachurch” organization. Such an organization composed of Christians would not be “parachurch.” It would be CHURCH — GOD’S CALLED-OUT PEOPLE! Even if some members were not born again, it would still be church. What church is there without some unsaved people in attendance?
A few years ago I also had an incorrect idea about parachurch. In my teaching ministry I would often say, “If the church was doing what it ought to be doing, we wouldn’t need all these parachurch organizations.”
It never once occurred to me that these parachurch people were just as much a church as we were, even though the building they met in was not shaped like ours. I did not realize that they were the people of God, moving together under the lordship of Jesus.
Our oldest son has been a member of a well-known “parachurch” organization for many years. This group is doing an outstanding job in missions and evangelism. It is growing very quickly all over the world.
A few years ago my son and I were discussing his future with this particular organization. I shared that I had some negative ideas about the organization because it was not a church, but a “parachurch” organization.