“All About Me—the Big #1” series
Lesson 18: The Parachurch
The Relationship of the Assemblies with the Movements
There is a common word in Christian circles nowadays and it is "parachurch." Some have used it to the extent that it is almost a biblical word. Usually it means religious movements that work in local areas but do not establish assemblies or churches themselves. These movements use people who go to assemblies, and naturally they are supported by people who go to assemblies. Hopefully they also help feed into the assembly.
The question is, if the local church is the Body of Christ in the local area, then where do these movements fit into the picture? They are the servants or workers who exist to assist the assemblies in building the Body of Christ in the local area. They may be evangelists, leaders in discipleship, teacher trainers, deeper life speakers, but they are just as much part of the Body of Christ (the local church) as anyone else. They all should work with one objective and that is to build the Body of Christ.
Should any assembly, movement, or worker fail to exist to build the Body of Christ locally, but move from this lofty goal to simply building their kingdom, they have become "eccentric" (off-center): feeding off the Body of Christ for selfish purposes, and someone should speak to them about this.
The Results of Living for Christ
Important Functions of Assemblies:
1. Teach Obedience to God
2. Teach the Love of the Brethren
3. Encourage a Vision to Win the World
Important Functions of Parachurch Movements:
1. Win People to Christ
2. Teach Christian Victory
3. Encourage Fellowship with Brethren
Now when we look at the above chart, there are three things God wants the ASSEMBLIES to do.
First objective of Assemblies
They should teach obedience to God's Word. This very definitely would include salvation and Lordship. The assembly is the place to edify and build up the saints. The teaching of God's Word should be such that the saints are becoming wiser in the ways of God's working and more obedient in conducting themselves in His ways.
Second objective of Assemblies
They should teach the love of the brethren. By this I don't mean just those in your assembly but those in the other assemblies in town—not just those who happen to be Baptist or Alliance like me, but all the brothers and sisters in Christ. It wouldn't bother me any if those who felt that they wanted to worship in a certain way met in one assembly and those who wanted to worship in another way met in another. Just so long as neither were filled with pride.
This whole discussion on the Flesh that we have been talking about has permeated every area of our lives. How easy it is to just pray for, "Me and my wife, my son, John and his wife, us four, no more. Amen." When have you last heard of love being shown across denominational borders. Why not?
Third objective of Assemblies
They should have a vision of winning the world to Christ. All too many assemblies love great preaching and great socials and send a little money overseas but the business of local evangelism is another story. The assembly has a tendency of becoming an end in itself.
Over a period of 25 years it is interesting to see two assemblies: 25 years ago they were very active, struggling to come into being, involved in VBS (Vacation Bible School), Sunday School promotion, and evangelism. Today they have nice buildings, no VBS, small Sunday Schools, and their main thrust is the edification of adults. Guess what is going to happen to them? What should they be doing?
The second part of the above chart refers to the PARACHURCH MOVEMENTS.
First objective of Movements
They should exist to win people to Christ. They are in most cases functioning in a non-denominational way and therefore are able to cross denominational barriers in evangelism. The assemblies should be encouraging participation in such movements.
Second objective of Movements
When these movements win people to Christ, they should teach Christian victory. By this I mean the Lordship of Christ. These converts doubtless have grown up in the lordship of Self and therefore, there will be a lot of undoing to do. Discipleship, so that they are ready to function with the saints, is vital.
Third objective of Movements
The third objective of the movements should be to encourage fellowship with the brethren. Find a place of Christian fellowship where the assemblies can do for the saints what they should do as listed previously.
I don't think anyone can disagree that God has raised up the assemblies and movements to carry out His great purposes. What we must do is operate in a spiritual way, rather than a carnal way, so that the world can see our oneness, because we really do have a spirit of oneness. We must not be in rivalry with each other or constantly seeking to over-emphasize a minor doctrine in order to set ourselves apart from our other brethren. Remember, we will live together in heaven; and if so, we might as well do our repenting down here rather than at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
If the Spirit of God had His way in our lives, I believe we would all fit together like a hand in a glove and we would see a real moving of the Spirit of God.