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The Parachurch |First Thoughts 1/4

What follows is one article in a series of 4 articles about ARC that I wrote in 2020 while contemplating the state of the modern Christian Church. These half formed thoughts will eventually become concepts like Symbiotic Organisation, The 3 Mindsets, The Christian’s Bill of Rights and others. At the time I shared them via Tuesday Night Discipleship and then the newly formed Ammi Ruhama Community.

Ideal for getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community

I’ve been wrestling lately with how to express what I believe about the modern Christian church from a pure heart. There is frustration, disassociation and, in one case, alienation. Now, not to knock emotions, but that’s a pretty negative place to start a critique of anything; objectivity goes out the window real fast and my voice blends in with the rest of the negative, unsubstantiated, and opinionated noise that floats about social media.

Generally speaking, unless we can suspend our opinion of something long enough to “objectify,” it, we’ll wallow in the mire of self-pity and end up not having said anything that will influence anyone with the truth of the matter. So, here at the start, I want full disclosure, I have been hurt and estranged by what many consider to be the Church and what I now consider to be the parachurch. Let me explain.

It is generally accepted that there are two kinds of organizations in Christianity: those who say they are a local church (LC’s) and those who say they are a para-church (PC’s) or an organization that comes alongside the so-called church to edify and equip them for the work of the ministry these include missions agencies, salvation army, bible colleges, etc.

In truth, both of these organizational types could be considered para-church organizations.

Before I get too deep; there is a history to how I have come to this conclusion–initially, in Bible college, I started to think that maybe both LC’s and PC’s were actually both the church–only one did it really well (LC’s) and the other not so much (PC’s).  I had been meditating on the truth of scripture that says that the Church is made of people and so logically wherever the people of God are, there the church is! Which PREACHES! But if that’s true, then your gym is a church and work is a church, your government is a church and so on and so forth, so I set that aside for several years because the thought was still maturing and I had some life experience to do before I realized that the way that I was thinking about church was contrary to what I said I believed about the church; primarily that it is not just made of people, the church is a people.

Now, if the Body of Christ is a people, nothing more and nothing less, then any structural addition to that community via either building, ethos, legal status, organizational identity, or governmental status is extra-biblical and can be considered parachurch.

Don’t misquote me, these organizations may very well be 100% populated and staffed by the most genuine and God-glorifying of believers, the church may very well operate within these organizations but the organizations themselves are not the church. Why? Because a church or quite literally, a gathering; an assembly, is just that; a gathering of a certain people, relatively loosely organized by any modern sense to bring glory to God through their operation in everyday life and who, as often as they meet, remember who it was that organized them and called them a people.

Sometimes para-churches are not helpful. They are a stumbling block because of their multitudes of extra-biblical conditions of community life either for salvation or for so-called “Church membership,” and attendance and sign here on the dotted line. If we were to reset to factory settings, many of these organizations would disappear entirely.

Let’s be clear. read this slowly. One line at a time.

These are Bible-based organizations.

They have good intentions.

In many cases, the church has operated unimpeded within them.

But, the church is a people; the people of God.

We are under the authority of the Word of God.

The Bible requires that we are to make our yes, yes and our no, no. 

The church is in its purest form when we are without box or structure–excluding clear Biblical structures–and forced when at risk of the devolution of the body of Christ to proclaim that all those who are in fellowship with the Father are in fellowship with us and we collectively are the body of Christ.

A people.

The people of God.

The Church.

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