Guest / Limited Access /
A World Vision for Church and Parachurch
Image: iStock

"IT is difficult to overstate the significance of parachurch organizations in contemporary American evangelicalism." So writes historian John G. Turner in Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America. That's due in part to the size and scope of such organizations. Evangelical Christians donate billions of dollars annually toward humanitarian, political, and evangelistic causes, from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to Youth with a Mission to Young Life to Prison Fellowship to the Evangelical Environmental Network—the list goes on and on.

The extraordinary anxiety—and relief—over World Vision's (WV) twin policy statements about hiring married gay men and women signaled again the centrality of parachurches to evangelical life. In fact, the incident suggests that parachurches do not merely come alongside the church in ministry, but also lead it in crucial ways.

Parachurches have played a long and important role in our movement, beginning with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1810. But since World War II, evangelicalism has more or less been defined by parachurches like BGEA, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Compassion, and WV. Michael Lindsay, in Faith in the Halls of Power, argues that cosmopolitan evangelicals—prominent leaders in a variety of fields—"are more active in parachurch groups than in local congregations." The most gifted and ambitious influencers in our movement serve and take their cues from the parachurch. In short, the parachurch has become a de facto leader in contemporary evangelicalism.

It's still very much true that the parachurch comes alongside ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHow to Destroy Your Pastor
How to Destroy Your Pastor
What threatens pastors most is not the attack that comes from outside the church, but the criticisms of cliques from within.
TrendingWhich False Teachings Are Evangelical Christians Most Tempted to Believe In?
Which False Teachings Are Evangelical Christians Most Tempted to Believe In?
Hidden heresies come in many shapes and sizes.
Editor's PickMore Martyrs: ISIS Executes Dozens of Ethiopian Christians in Libya
More Martyrs: ISIS Executes Dozens of Ethiopian Christians in Libya
Propaganda video released the same day Justin Welby arrives in Cairo to honor the previous 21 victims.
Comments
Christianity Today
A World Vision for Church and Parachurch
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.