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
RecommendedThe Church's 'Intersex' Challenge
The Church's 'Intersex' Challenge
How should we respond to those who don’t seem to have been created male or female?
TrendingLigonier Suspends R. C. Sproul Jr. over Ashley Madison Visit
Ligonier Suspends R. C. Sproul Jr. over Ashley Madison Visit
Reformed leader admits accessing adultery website 'in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity.'
Editor's PickMy Small Group Looks Like Me
My Small Group Looks Like Me
Why some multiethnic churches don’t mandate diversity at gatherings.
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.