Parachurch? Parasite?

Prof. John Stackhouse has posted about The Parachurch: A parasite? If you’re part of what might commonly be called a ‘para-church organisation’ (as we are) it makes helpful reading.

I like this re-definition which follows some important thoughts about the role of such groups and their relationship with the wider church:

“… such groups clearly are Christ’s Church mobilized and active in worthy pursuits. Thus the term “parachurch” really won’t do. I suggest instead the term “paracongregational.”

[via Jordan Cooper]

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2 Responses to Parachurch? Parasite?

  1. To replace ‘parachurch’ with ‘paracongregation’ shows much of the confusion that there is around the idea of what church is. For ‘church’ just means ‘congregation’ anyway!

  2. Tim Abbott says:

    Mike,
    Thanks for commenting. I had previously checked out your own response to John’s post on your blog and found it helpful.
    In it you say,
    ‘Church’ in the New Testament is used either of ‘A church’ or the universal church. with which I totally agree.
    I think some people use the title ‘para-church’ to imply that this is somehow not quite a proper part of the church universal, and even that such organisations are a parasite on the ‘real’ church. ‘Para-congregational’ sidesteps this implication by presenting such an organisation as working in a broader sphere than that of a local and specific gathering of believers (which is a kind of definition of congregation).
    Some would define church and congregation by saying that a large church could be made up of several congregations. This usually means something like two morning congregations, an evening congregation and a newly planted congregation meeting in a school up the road; that kind of thing. However, I accept that to define a congregation as purely a meeting for worship is sadly inadequate as God’s purpose for his people is more than a meeting! In that sense any congregation should be church if it is to reflect God’s full purpose, which is what I suspect is at the heart of your comment.
    After all this… as an area wide youth and schools ministry we define ourself as inter-church rather than para-church. We seek to work in partnership with churches, however they define themselves, and particularly to work in the gaps where there are young people but not yet any ministry of the church, universal or local.
    So I guess this whole ‘para’ thing is out of the window anyway.
    Thanks for the stimulus to reflect further.

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