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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Para-Church Continued

There are many reasons why there are so many ministries today which have no connection or ties to a church. I believe this is a problem because the New Testament is clear that the church is to be the ministry organization or organism of Jesus Christ.  It is His designa and His plan.  But more than that, the church is what Jesus came to establish.  The church is what Jesus came to save.  The church is what Jesus is coming back for.  The church is His Body, His Bride and the "pillar and the ground of the truth".

So why does it seem that so many desire to minister outside the church; with no formal ties to the church and not under the leadership and authority of the church?  There are many reasons but some are as follows:

1.  Satan fights against it.  If the church is indeed all that is said above (and so much more!) than the enemy has a vested interest to reduce its effectiveness.

2.  Authority - the New Testament lays out an authority structure for the church and when we do ministry through the church, as a part of the church, than it is under the authority of that leadership.  And frankly, many today do not desire the inconvenience and hinderances of trying to work under the authority of a church leadership.  They want the "freedom" to do as they please.  In a para-church organization, one can select or choose his or her own "board" to serve as a shadow leadership entity and rubber stamp what is desired.

3.  Accountability - as with authority, doing "my own thing" eliminates or reduces accountability.  Again, less restraints, less hinderances, etc.

4.  Pragmatism - the modern church is filled with secular reasoning.  Some justify there lack of connection to a church because being tied to one particular church or church movement might limit their reach or effectiveness.  No matter what the Word of God says, they feel a para-church alignment will "work better".

But regardless of the reasons, this is all tied to a theological issue. You see the church is the New Testament, by and large, refers to a local church ... a local assembly.  Yet, today it is much more popular to see the church as referring to the universal body of believers world wide.  In the same way that we have discussed para-church ministry, when I see the references to "church" in the New Testament as referring to some universal, world-wide body than there is no clearly defined human leadership, no real accountability and all manner of room for me to do things as I see fit.

This independent spirit flied directly in the face to all the New Testament teaching on the church body. The Word of God is so clear about unity, one heart, one mind and believers being joined together like the parts of the human body, each serving their role and purpose.  We see these passages being written in the context of individual local assemblies where in the early church there was clear evidence of "membership".  By that I mean, as Paul describes in Corinthians, being a "member" or appendage of a local body.

You see, if we have no connection to a local assembly, than to whom is the local shepherd responsible to minister?  Over whom does he have authority?  And to whom do we have accountability? The Scriptures teach us of spiritual gifts which we are to use in our ministry to and through our local church. It speaks of leadership positions and organization.

Imagine for a moment all the man power, time, energy, and money spent on, and given to, para-church ministries.  Imagine for a moment if all that "ministry" was done by and through a local church.  Can you imagine the difference that would make world wide on the image of the church and the view of the church?

Schools used to be run by a church.  Hospitals used to run by a church.  Mission agencies used to be run by a church.  On and on we can go.  But, why the change?  I have only begun to describe the reasons and certainly I am no expert.  But beloved, I beg you to consider, do you LOVE the church as Jesus does?  Do you honor His Bride as He does?  Do you serve the Bride whom Christ died for?  Are you faithful to the Bride which He is coming back for?  Today, people change churches like some people change socks.  They view church as something which should serve "them".  If we are to think as He thinks, feel as He feels and love what He loves, it is high time we reconsider our view of the CHURCH.

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