Church vs Parachurch 2

Neil Cole has also had some interesting things to say recently about church and parachurch, as quoted by Jonathan Dodson

“Neil Cole’s new book Organic Leadership is insightful, provocative, and prophetic. The first section of the book points out the weeds growing in the soil of the American church. One particular weed is the parasitical effect of parachurch ministries. To be sure, Cole does not view all parachurch organizations as an impediment to the church; however, he prophetically points out how the parachurch has assumed the role and mission of the church leaving her weak and anemic. Consider these areas of capitulation:

  1. Her leadership development has been assumed by colleges, seminaries, and Bible institutes.
  2. Her compassion and social justice have been given over to nonprofit charitable organizations.
  3. Her global mission has been relinquished to mission agencies.
  4. Church government and decision making have often been forfeited to denominational offices.
  5. Her prophetic voice has been replaced by publishing houses, self-help gurus, and futurist authors.
  6. Her emotional and spiritual health has been taken over by psychologists, psychiatrists, and family counseling services.

“Cole is not sweeping all parachurches aside. Rather, he is pointing out the professionalization and specialization of the church into ministries that have left the church anemic. We have capitulated to this fragmentation of the church. Cole notes:

“The world today looks at the church wondering what relevance she has.The only use they see for the church is performing the sacerdotal duties of preaching, marrying, burying, baptizing, and passing around wafers and grape juice. The church was once a catalyst for artistic expression, social change, and the founding of hospitals, schools, and missionary enterprise, but today she has settled for providing a one-hour-a-week worship concert, an offering place, and a sermon. (116)”

Read the whole article here


1. Cole is too harsh on parachurch, and using a word like parasitic is going to unnecessarily stir up bad blood.

2. I do not think the fault lies with the parachurch organisation I think it is the lcoal church which must “step up to the plate” and recover her calling.  This I think is Cole’s main point.

3. I agree with Cole that we must resist professionalization and fragmentation within churches, networks and Christian organisation.  The existence of parachurch has contributed to an unnecessary professionalization in ministry – e.g. I am a student worker, that is what I do for a living, I am in a sense a professional.

Now whilst specialised training or focus is not a bad thing, it is a major contributor to fragmentation in the Christian community.

As a result the ordinary Christian does not see the necessity or feel equipped in order to reach out to students because I am there – and I am the professional.

As a family we ought to be constantly seeking ways in which we can bring all the diverse and different family together not dividing and fragmenting the different areas from each other.

More thoughts on church and parachurch tomorrow…


~ by John on February 27, 2009.

2 Responses to “Church vs Parachurch 2”

  1. Cole’s insights are really helpful, though I still find myself thinknig that one could write some of his points with a positive word and use them as commendations of strengths of the local church – present in those contexts.

    Some are of course awful, and the christian publishing industry has a lot to answer for.

  2. […] Church vs Parachurch 3 I started this little series by trying to interact with some thoughts that others (Dave Bish, Steve Timmis, Jonathan Dodson and Neil Cole) were posting on this subject.  For those thoughts see part 1 and part 2. […]

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