What about para-churches?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by KCLorelei, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. KCLorelei

    KCLorelei
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    How do 'para-church' organizations fit within the Body of Christ? I am thinking in particular about organizations such as pregnancy resource centers, that aren't connected to any particular local church but are ran through a board of directors.

    I am especially interested in hearing the views of pastors regarding Christians serving in ministries that are outside local church authority structures. I do understand that the Christian's primary service is within the local church body first. I am just not sure of what is Biblical regarding service in 'para-church' ministries.
     
  2. gekko

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    what are "para-churches"? churches that parachute? im confused here...
     
  3. bapmom

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    para-church organizations are those which come alongside churches to help them in some way, but are not directly under any church.

    Many mission boards would fit in this category. Campus Crusades is para-church, AWANA I think would be....
     
  4. bapmom

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    Im not sure I understand what you are asking about them, KCLorelei. How do they fit in the body of Christ? The body of Christ is believers. Why would any organization "fit" within it?
     
  5. KCLorelei

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    My use of the word 'fit' was a poor word choice, my apologies.

    My main concern is about the ministry of pregnancy resource centers, and service within that ministry. Is there any Bibical reason not to serve in one if I believe that is where God wants me?

    Does that help to clarify, Bapmom? [​IMG]
     
  6. bapmom

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    oh yes! [​IMG]

    I could probably give you a few reasons why you should serve in one if you have the opportunity. I certainly can see no reason to NOT work in one, as long as we are not talking about Planned Parenthood here.

    But those alternatives to PP that I see in some places, where they encourage adoption, are great places for girls to go. I think we need more of them and we CHristians need to be more willing to be involved in them.
     
  7. cojosh

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    There are some that believe that all ministries should be under the authority of a local church?
    I don't agree with this, even though I believe that ministries that are extensions from a church tend to stay on task due to the accountability factor.

    There is no problem as long as you understand the role of the local church and that it is a primary place for christians to minister from, and that the pregnacy resource center isn't conducting any ungodliness that would hurt your testimony and spiritual walk.
     
  8. KCLorelei

    KCLorelei
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    Oh, NO, never Planned Parenthood!!

    Bapmom, I have volunteered with a pregnancy resource center, for a time, and am considering serving again with one located closer to me. I agree that we need more of them, especially in a big town like where I live.

    cojosh, I don't think all ministries should be under the local church authority, not at all. From my personal experience with the local PRC, it seems that there is ample room for unBiblical influences and teachings to creep in, and well, that was part of the reason why I stopped volunteering.

    I agree with you in that ministries extending from a local church tend to stay on track; I would love to start a PRC affiliated with my own church someday, if God is willing.

    I just wanted to make sure that there was no reason not to serve that I didn't know about.

    Thanks for the valuable input! [​IMG]
     
  9. guitarpreacher

    guitarpreacher
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    I'm curious as to what unbiblical influenses would creep into a pregnancy resource center. Assuming of course that it was pro-life.
     
  10. KCLorelei

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    Yes, it was pro-life, and had some very wonderful programs for the pregnant ladies as well as mentoring for the dads. There were also community outreach and education programs, abstinence programs, adoption info and referrals to adoption agencies, and referrals to other community services to help the moms and expecting moms. None of that was particularly unbiblical.

    However, this center was in a transition period while I was there; the director and several key staff personnel resigned after God called them to other ministries, the remaining staff was reshuffled, new staff was selected, and there was much strife and disagreement among the remaining staff about the direction of the ministry, causing more staff to resign.

    After everything was sorted out, the new direction was focused on becoming more clinical (like Planned Parenthood? I don't know if that was the plan or not, honestly). The center would begin offering prenatal care overseen by an R.N. on staff and volunteer doctors, and focusing on prevention of abortions by the usage of an on-site ultrasound machine. The ultrasound machine was great! Young scared pregnant girls will more often than not choose life when confronted with the image of their baby on an ultrasound...

    But, because of the many many laws and regulations surrounding the new move towards clinical services, the center had a new, decidely secular slant to the point where the gospel was not being actively presented to the clients, the staff removed the Gospel tracts on display in the waiting room, and well, volunteers of the Protestant and/or evangelical variety were being told their Biblical views weren't 'loving' enough. Or very welcome, either. :(

    There was also criticism directed at certain denominations, and especially evangelicals, for not taking a more proactive stand on pro-life issues, especially in the area of ministering to those who chose abortion and need help finding God's forgiveness.

    There was a majority of staff and board members representing a particular religion, and the center that was supposed to be nondenominational and helping women in a crisis pregnancy situation, became mostly directed by one denomination, and Jesus was being marginalized for the sake of man's rules, does that make sense?

    I don't know if what happened there is becoming the normal PRC these days, or if that was an exception. It's entirely possible that the opposition - Planned Parenthood, the pro-choice crowd, etc - has succeeded in damaging the reputation of Christian 'abortion alternatives' to the point where this PRC felt it best to downplay the faith in order to get the girls in the door. Kansas City has one of the highest abortion rates in the nation...

    Anyway, it was time for me to leave at that point, but I still have a burden for lost young people that are being led to hell by the lies of our culture, KWIM? And a passion to help girls in that situation.
     
  11. Brother Ian

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    See what their purpose is. As long as it doesn't conflict with biblical guidelines, serve if that is where the Lord is calling you.

    Para-church organizations, by definition, should work along side the church, never replace the church.

    There are many para-church organizations that are worthwhile including, but not limited to pregnancy centers, Christian radio and TV stations, food banks, Salvation Army, etc.
     
  12. Johnv

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    You tell me. What do you think of the Salvation Army bellringers outside Walmart? They're a parachurch organization, affiliated with the Salvation Army Church, which is a separate entity.
     
  13. KCLorelei

    KCLorelei
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    Thank you, Brother Ian [​IMG]
     
  14. KCLorelei

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    My only experience serving in a parachurch was with the pregnancy center; perhaps I shouldn't have been beating about the bushes talking about the general term 'parachurches' and just got to my real question about pregnancy centers, huh? :D

    I make a point to visit with the bellringers when I see them; I never really thought of them as a parachurch before, though I guess they are, now that you've mentioned it...the bellringers are affiliated with a specific church, right? The pregnancy center I volunteered at wasn't affiliated with a specific local church, though there were many churches of different denominations that supported them with funding and donations of items.

    The PRC's affiliation was with a specific prolife umbrella organization that I guess could also be considered a parachurch - I think... [​IMG]
     
  15. Johnv

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    I think you're fine. Not all ministries are church-affiliated. Many are, but many aren't. in Los Angeles, Fred Jordan Mission, which feeds, houses, and clothes the homeless, is not affiliated with a church or denomination, and is a well respected and much needed organization.
     
  16. KCLorelei

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    Thanks, John. [​IMG]

    There's a PRC closer to me than the other one, that is located right next door to a food bank ran by a sister church of my own church; maybe I'll give them a call. :D
     

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