Born just two years apart, John D. Rockefeller and Dwight L. Moody were both impatient men. Rockefeller couldn't bear the chaos of the oil industry and its volatile price swings. Moody couldn't bear the thought of millions of men and women living and dying without Jesus Christ. Each channeled his impatience into intense entrepreneurial activity designed to find solutions. But there the similarity ended. Rockefeller's method was to gain control of everything he could, while Moody's approach was to inspire others to serve everyone they could.
Business tycoons in the late 1800s used for-profit corporations to build industrial empires, while Moody and his followers used non-profit corporations to build a network of non-denominational organizations. We now call these parachurch organizations. They bypassed denominations and denominational differences, performed a specialized ministry purpose for a specialized target audience, and employed lay workers who could, as Moody put it, "stand in the gap" between clergy and laity.
By 1920, a growing network of Bible institutes, foreign missionary agencies, and other organizations had emerged. Then in the 1920s the fundamentalist-modernist controversy left the large northern "mainline" Protestant denominations in control of those who favored theological pluralism. As a result, evangelicals put even more energy into the parachurch network. Parachurch organizations united both evangelicals who left the "mainline" denominations and those who remained. They also drew in many from immigrant churches like the Mennonites and Dutch Reformed.
By the 1930s, many talented young evangelical leaders like Cameron Townsend, Dawson Trotman, Clarence Jones, and Charles Fuller were pouring their energies into ...