It seems like everything is competing for our attention all the time. Work, home, church, leisure, hobbies, etc. Often times, the Christian will be asked to serve in an area of his/her interest within the context of a parachurch ministry. What is a parachurch ministry? Wikipedia states it this way:
Parachurch organizations are Christian faith-based organizations that work outside of and across denominations to engage in social welfare and evangelism, usually independent of church oversight. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachurch_organization)
Now, there are lots of great parachurch organizations on the earth today such as Gideon’s International, Samaritan’s Purse, Word of Life, AWANA, and so on and so on. I am a busy guy. How should the busy Christian think about parachurch organizations? Well, allow me to present the following grid for us to think about.
- Ministry to self (Bible reading and prayer and personal fight against sin). If this isn’t right, nothing else below will be right.
- Ministry to your immediate family (Deuteronomy 6:4 and following)
- Ministry to the body at your local church (1 Corinthians and many other places – the ‘one another’ passages for example)
- Ministry of the Good News to others in your sphere of influence like work, social life, neighborhood, etc. (the work of an evangelist)
- Ministry within parachurch organizations (once items 1-4 are adequately cared for)
So, if you want to help out serving within the context of a parachurch organization, that might be a good thing IF your biblical responsibilities in 1-4 above are being done well. Remember, a parachurch organization is NOT a church. The leadership of those organizations are not responsible for your soul. You are called upon to submit to the leadership of your local church. By the way, if you are in doubt about whether or not you are covering 1-4 adequately, as your spouse or one of the elders at your church. They will help guide you. Parachurch ministries are important and have a place. You, your church, your family, and the unbelievers in your life take priority. Think about it. If every believer were engaged in this way, would parachurch ministries be needed?
PS – a good link on this subject: http://www.9marks.org/journal/nine-marks-healthy-parachurch-ministry