Church Parachurch

At the 2023 Church Ministries Conference, I had the privilege to do a workshop on the Church and Parachurch with Rochelle Visser.

The basis of the workshop information was birthed out of 9Marks April 2011 journal - "Church and Parachurch:  Friends or Foes."

Click the Image for the entire journal.

During the workshop, we wanted to share some basic information and discuss how to build partnerships with ministry leaders.  I love the growing, not perfect, relationship Trinity Baptist Church has with various parachurch organizations, so I wanted Rochelle, who actively serves at Trinity and also at Camp Michawana, Bible Club, Community Kids, and various Pro-Life Organizations.

If you want more about the practical side of the workshop, contact Rochelle or me or leave a comment on this post.

Some topics and issues discussed but still need to be solved were adoption agencies, college campus ministries, and things to consider in doctrinal statements.

Now, here are some things that were shared during the workshop.

The key word to remember concerning healthy church and parachurch relationships is PARTNERSHIP.

Here are two descriptions to consider:

  1. A healthy church is about sharing the Gospel and equipping believers for the glory of God.  
  2. "A healthy parachurch ministry knows it exists primarily to protect the church."  J. Mack Stiles.

To continue this PARTNERSHIP theme, there are three words to consider:


The church is essential because it is biblical.  The church is not a man-made construct.  

The church is referred to in scripture as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-27).

As the church, we are adopted (Galatians 4:4-5) into the family of God (1 John 3:1-12; Galatians 4:6-7).

You may have heard it said the church is not the building, the physical location, and the address of the church building.  However, the Bible does say, "in [Christ] you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22, see also 1 Peter 2:4-5) 

Finally, the church is a body. First Corinthians 12:12 says, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ."  Romans 12:4 says, "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function."


"[Parachurch organizations] serve churches in various practical ways that allow those churches to focus on and fulfill their primary responsibilities."  (John Bloom, What is a Parachurch Ministry?)  Recent history demonstrates how parachurch organizations have helped Christ's Church with ministry to children, youth, missions, translation work, and more.  Just because something is not in the Bible doesn't mean it is un-biblical and antibiblical.  However, it does mean it should never take the place of Biblical things.  


So, which of these two is harmful?  The church or the parachurch?  I pray you would not believe that God's bride and plan - the church - is not harmful.  You may want to say that the parachurch organizations are harmful.  The harm and problems come when the church or parachurch does not understand their roles.  When a church gives up its role to another organization, that is a problem.  When a parachurch organization oversteps its role, there is a problem.  Carl Trueman's 9Marks journal article, How a parachurch ministries go off the rails, is an excellent resource.



The Vine Movement: Supporting Gospel Growth Beyond Your Church,

Desiring God


Prayerful Dependence

During the first night of this year's Church Ministries Conference, I had the opportunity to lead a workshop entitled  Prayerful Dependence on God in Ministry.

Here is the description of the workshop.

Prayer is necessary for gospel ministry because it depends on God, and prayer shows our dependence on God. We can develop the best vision statement, plan to work with parents, choose the best curriculum, and develop an excellent plan. But we need to remember that, ultimately, salvation belongs to and comes from our God. Prayer shows this commitment. This workshop will include teaching on tools for and time to pray for you, your church, and other churches.

Why should we pray?  Some people ask this because prayer doesn't seem to do anything.  Others ask the question because they ask why bother if God is sovereign over all creation.  There are many ways to answer this question, but God commands us to a fundamental, direct one.  First Thessalonians 5:16-18 is one place that has this command.

Rejoice always
Pray continually
Give thanks in all circumstances
For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The following quote by Tony Merida addresses why prayer is hard and necessary.

Prayer is complicated because it seems like we aren't doing anything, but it's also tricky because it's a humble act. We must regularly humble ourselves before God's mighty hand and cast our cares on Him.

When we view prayer as just another church ministry program, it becomes a burden or one of many different options. 

However, when we understand that prayer for the believer is like breathing for every human, it is absolutely needed for life and not an option.
Our lives need to glorify God. Being dependent upon Him for everything is one of, if not the best, ways to do This. Prayer shows our dependence upon God. 


Church Ministries Conference Pre-Conference Video - 


Quote Graphics at challies.com
  • "We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all." (Oswald Chambers) -LINK
  • Prayer crowns God with honor and glory due to His name; God crowns prayer with assurance & comfort.  The most praying souls are the most assured.  (Thomas Brooks) - LINK
  • Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. (A.W. Pink) - LINK
  • "To pray rightly, you must make God your hope, stay, and all. Right prayer sees nothing substantial or worth being concerned about except God." (John Bunyan) - LINK


Prayer Week 1

Is prayer a brick or is it breathing?

The struggle many individuals and churches have with prayer is that it is viewed as an additional burden among so many other burdens.  It is an added brick among so many other bricks.
Prayer is not a brick or a burden.
To keep this illustration going, prayer is the wheelbarrow that carries our burdens and praises to the Lord.  

Prayer is like breathing.  Dependence upon God is evidence of a deep, necessary trust in God.
It needs to be constant and we are to be spiritual healthy.

In 1st Thessalonians 5:17, the Bible commands us to pray continually.  This continual prayer is a life of dependence on God.  Trusting that he saved us from our sins and continuing to call out to Him throughout our lives.    

As we think about how our lives should be marked by prayer, let us remember the 1st Adam and the 2nd Adam.

The first Adam, in Genesis 3:8, sinned and hide from God because of sin. 
Then he began the blameshifting.  "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." The first Adam sinned and then blamed the woman and God.

The second Adam in Mark 14:36 had no sin and humbly submitted to an undeserved death for the glory of God and good mankind. 

Our communication with God needs to be Christ-like, humbly asking and ultimately submitting to God's plan.

Friday night's post, after my Prayer workshop at the Church Ministries Conference (https://churchministriesconference.com/), will have more about the importance of corporate prayer.