In Praise of a Healthy Parachurch

I really appreciate the 9Marks eJournal. The current issue is on the theme of the parachurch and asks if the church and parachurch are natural friends or foes. The latest installment of the journal goes a long way in not only clarifying the role of the church and parachurch, but in setting up a framework for their complimentary existence in the cause of Christ.

Mack Stiles’ article, “Nine Marks of a Healthy Parachurch,” is especially helpful for the picture it offers of what a parachurch can (and should) be at its best. While you will want to read the whole thing, here are Stiles’ nine marks:

  1. A healthy parachurch ministry knows that it exists primarily to protect the church.
  2. A healthy parachurch ministry makes a clear distinction between church and parachurch.
  3. A healthy parachurch ministry avoids acting like the church.
  4. A healthy parachurch ministry does not pressure the church to act like a parachurch.
  5. A healthy parachurch ministry humbly heeds the history of parachurch movements.
  6. A healthy parachurch understands the difference between the pragmatic and the principled.
  7. The healthy parachurch ministry has a counter-cultural understanding of management and money.
  8. The healthy parachurch maintains a strong commitment to, and understanding of, the gospel.
  9. A healthy parachurch ministry seeks accountability relationships with the church.

Stiles concludes: “Parachurch ministries are bigger and more influential than ever. And within the vast majority of them, God is at work for his kingdom in powerful ways. But we should never forget that his chosen method for the expansion of the kingdom is his church.”

Stiles’ article is a call for the church to be the church and the parachurch to be the parachurch. Knowing the distinction is vitally important so that we can be helpful friends (rather than foes) in the advance of the gospel.

To see the latest 9Marks eJournal entitled Church and Parachurch: Friends or Foes?, go here.

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