you gave to a para-church ministry? Should Christians support them? Why? or Why not? Is there biblical warrant? How often should we give? How much should we give? What kinds should we support? Which ones do you support monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.? Should we budget for this or just give when we are prompted by ????
I give a bit sporadically but I do try to take some money out of my paycheck every month or so to go to The Highway. The amount has varied pretty widely, from $5 up to $50 as I feel I have the freedom to give. But The Highway is really the most important parachurch ministry I'm involved in so I'm always happy to give. It's had such an impact in my own life and I know that there are a lot of other people, many whom we never hear from on this board, who are edified by all the resources Pilgrim makes available on this website and by the discussions we have on these board. I think The Highway definitely merits support for that reason, and it's one of very few on the Internet which has been such a constant witness to the Gospel of Christ over the years. I don't know an exact biblical reference, but I think parachurch organizations like The Highway are fulfilling a part of the Great Commission, especially considering that The Highway can be visited from almost anywhere in the world.
We don't. Partly because there are so many shady ones out there. Mostly because raising kids is expensive and thats our main priority right now.
Yes, giving to the Highway is worthwhile as it supports (1) correct theology (2) it is very well monitored (which takes a lot of time), and (3) is meeting needs of 1000s of indivduals per month. There are very few para-church ministries at the same level as The Highway. Thanks for your ministry Administrators and Moderators. A very special thanks to Jeff (Pilgrim) who obeyed God's call long ago to establish this Internet Blessing. The Kingdom is going forth.
There are other ministries out there and hopefully others that are giving to them or giving here .... Well, at least I hope they are? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/shrug.gif" alt="" /> Very few replies hummm <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratch1.gif" alt="" />
We don't. Partly because there are so many shady ones out there. Mostly because raising kids is expensive and thats our main priority right now.
Please do not take offense as I am rather direct at times (most of the time <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />), but IMO your kids are to valuable not to give. I must admit putting family at the top of the list (ok, God first, ...) is important, however sometimes putting them first means looking after their needs in other places, where moth and rust do not corrupt .... I agree with you that there are many shady ones out there, but then there are some valuable ones as well. However, thanks for the integrity of your post--honesty speaks volumes and at least you have spoken while others have not ... Money always brings this type of dead silence ... why? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/Banghead.gif" alt="" />
Joe said concerning parachurch groups:
Should Christians support them? Why? or Why not? Is there biblical warrant? How often should we give? How much should we give? What kinds should we support? Which ones do you support monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.? Should we budget for this or just give when we are prompted by ????
What....first of all, constitutes a parachurch group, organization, or ministry? Para...greek... alongside or beside of...church..ekklesia...the called out ones. So we have ministries that come about ...for whatever reason or purpose and are promoted, not within the church or as a ministry of the church, but alongside, outside
. Is there biblical warrant?... as Joe has asked. Does the Church have a need for ministries outside the body of Christ....and if so why can these ministries not function as a part of the “ekklesia”?
Does the rise of so many “parachurch groups” constitute a failure of the church....to promote, fund, organize, give,minister, evangelize, comfort, equip.... those in need?
Didn’t Christ give to the Church the necessary gifts to accomplish all things through Him by using those ordained
by the Church? “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
“.....I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:18
My post will compete with Joe’s for asking questions: Does the Church need freelance “evangelists” to go out apart from the sending
of the Church?
IMO God has ordained one Organization...the Church
, to be His witness in the world.
WCF Chap XXV para III. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
P.S. I don’t think that Pilgrim considers the Highway a parachurch organization. I would consider it an extension of Pilgrims personal witness to the world as a member of a local body of believers which is part of the “Church”. (he can speak for himself....as you all know)
P.P.S. Maybe what we need is a good definition of what a “Parachurch” group or organization is exactly. My “Webster’s knows of no such term.
Great post Dave and right on target. We need a definition. May I suggest (maybe not a good definition, but at least a working one):
The word `para' means `beside' or `along side.' Thus a para-Church organization is one that operates along-side the church. This is how many (definitely not all) para-church organizations function in practice. However, they are generally not under the guidance and direction of a local church (some are), but operate separately, relying on local churches, other individuals, and organizations (including government) to support their endeavors and/or finance their members (members is an interesting aspect on this topic). They tend to specialize in a certain area of ministry. Among para-Church ministries are most seminaries, mission organizations, Christian hospitals, hospices, and yes, even Christian websites, etc. Are these legit?
Was Paul’s tent making a ministry? What of Peter's fishing fleet? Would we constitute these as a para-Church organizations today or just self-employment with an kingdom flair? Would we support Paul’s making of tents as a ministry? Paul himself submitted to the Church, but was his making of tents submitted? Our jobs should be submitted to the LORD, however, should they be submitted to the eldership of the Church? Is there a difference here? Is every member of the Church suppose to be involved in Church ministry outside the Church and thus do they operate along-side the Church to do the work of the Kingdom? Where do we draw the lines or do we?
I agree that the church was ordained with the message and mission to take the Gospel to the world. However, the visible Church is not a denomination or a building, but individuals! However, it is an organized group of individuals with leadership and a foundation with the authority to minister the Gospel and yes, even discipline its members .... Thus, is it Scriptural for an individual who submits to his church leadership to have a para-Church organization? How much control by a Church would make a person’s para-Church organization scripturally legit (if at all)?
Has the Church failed—I astounding say YES they have to fulfill the Great Commission (but, God’s plan is still right on course <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />), however does this legitimize para-church organizations, or just identify the need within the Church to learn … mature … and then act?
Hopefully, we will now begin answering some of these questions and answer if we should give or not to give to "legit" ones? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/shrug.gif" alt="" />
A few of your many questions spark a response from me.
Re: people not wanting to talk about giving, I know that--as you imply--embarassment at not having given can silence many. But I also think a fair number who do give, wanting to comply with not letting their left hand know what their right hand is doing, might be leery of letting myriads of web-site viewers know the details!
Re: parachurch activity being ultimately accountable to local church authority, I firmly believe it should. Not that the operational details of the work must be subject to the scrutiny of the elders (for that would obviously hinder their calling, as in Acts 6), and not giving the church authority over non-Christian employers (for that reverts to a medieval confusion of kingdoms). Rather, Christians in any calling--including "parachurch"--should be subject to a local body to the degree that if an unresolvable dispute about "the work" arises between Christians, the offended parties could appeal to the church of the other party to consider the grievance in a disciplinary hearing. I feel that a lack of following this procedure has elevated many parachurches to a de facto "supra-church" status.
I remember Ken Jones making the case on the White Horse Inn that he is convinced that the ideal remedy for U.S. racially-driven slavery would have been for the elders of white southern churches to have 1) received the grievances of slaves and 2) disciplined owners for man-theft and attendant evils. He feels, and I agree, that had the matter been addressed initially within the church, much bloodshed and bitterness could have been avoided, attitudes may have changed in advance of legislation, and the growth of the liberal church may have been retarded.
Similary, when I have business dealings (parachurch or not) with Christians, I find one constraint on my behavior to be the real possiblity of official rebuke and discipline from my own church if I am guilty of unresolved offenses. In return, I feel that every dealing with a parachurch, if substantive grievances arise, should ideally be resolved by submission to the elders of either party, which would of course require the leaders of the parachurch to themselves be subject to elders.
Finally, re: missions boards in particular. One of our elder's sons has been involved in a (parachurch) group in New England which is trying to encourage churches to move away from the mission board model of missionary support in which many local churches/individuals contribute tiny pieces of support to multiple missionaries, toward a model in which each local church provides full support for a smaller number of missionaries. Some of the benefits: much more accountability, since far fewer people are involved; greater awareness and prayer support on the part of members of the local church, since they will get to know the missinaries much better; and far less stress on the missionaries at furlough time, instead of having to visit 20 churches where maybe only a few people have a clue about them, they can spend time with their families and local church only, getting truly restored and re-equipped for service.
Some may find my attitude of the sufficiency of the local church a little too Congregationalist--well, so be it--that's what I am (yes, doctinally reformed)! I am not anti-parachurch. I sit on a (small) parachurch board, and I remember that at our first meeting we insisted that all unresolved issues be handled by the church of the founder of the ministry.
I would just like to mention something here. Para-church ministries should not be needed period! If you ever find yourself considering taking part in a para-church ministry then you have to ask yourself why and what is it that my church isn't providing?
This includes participation here on The Highway. I'm not saying that I believe that The Highway isn't a very valuable ministry, it is. But, what I am saying is that in the case of The Highway, I think it is a perfect example of how reformed churches need to get there act together and start their own on line public forums and encourage members to use them. It wouldn't have to necessarily be one forum per church. It could be one for a group of reformed churches in an area. In fact, I think, that it would be better to include multiple churches, this would bring church bodies closer together. Unfortunately, most of the churches in my area don't even have adequate websites. It's a shame because more and more people are turning to the web and the church needs to accept it and consider starting up a new ministerial role in web design.
While I generally agree that there are far too many pc's, and that too many seem to have no adequate church connection, I do think they are legitimate when: a given church cannot devote manpower/time/money to the official oversight of an activity, but some of its individuals do, as long as those individuals are themselves subject to church discipline if necessary. E.g. our tiny church cannot officially "run" the 2--for lack of better terminology--parachurches that several individuals in the church do, on their own time and resource networks. The 2 pcs have provided valuable resources to both our own church and several other churches in this area, as well as expanded evangelistic outreach into the community. But the 2 leaders (and their boards) are certainly under the care of the church to the degree that any issues with their "ministries" can be resolved fully within the context of the church itself.
While I generally agree that there are far too many pc's, and that too many seem to have no adequate church connection, I do think they are legitimate when: a given church cannot devote manpower/time/money to the official oversight of an activity, but some of its individuals do, as long as those individuals are themselves subject to church discipline if necessary. E.g. our tiny church cannot officially "run" the 2--for lack of better terminology--parachurches that several individuals in the church do, on their own time and resource networks.
Absolutely. I agree Paul.... but.... if an individual is doing something like hosting a website or public forum for a church or a church body in an area.... this is not considered a para-church activity. It's a person doing ministry for the church. Which I believe is a wonderful example of how each member of the church should be contributing in their own God gifted way to the local church.
Well stated. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/BigThumbUp.gif" alt="" /> I agree that some may not desire to talk about giving to be somewhat biblical in the area, however I think that number is very small indeed. One who gives regularly can do it and even talk about it in moderation without sin. It just becomes a part of normal life and actually one that causes great joy not only to do, but to express as encouragement for others to do the same. Having witnessed church members from many perspectives for years, I think the item about embarrassment is the real issue for most (maybe not here, but for most in general). This is unfortunate as they are not only giving up a blessing in this life, but in the one to come. Giving is adventurous and fun. It great to see the funds God has given you at work in His Kingdom. It is great to witness the growth of a Kingdom.
For most if we would just build a budget around giving most of the work would be done. Tithing should be done cheerfully, but that does not remove what I consider a responsibility (not legalism, but covenant faithfulness). This seems like such a no brainer ... <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/doah.gif" alt="" />
I find it interesting that you are moving the missions back to the individual churches. Matters like this can be very difficult and full of obstacles. Let us know how this works out.
You raise some excellent points and considerations. While I understand what you are saying here what about para-church organizations that are under the church? Are these legit?
This includes participation here on The Highway. I'm not saying that I believe that The Highway isn't a very valuable ministry, it is. But, what I am saying is that in the case of The Highway, I think it is a perfect example of how reformed churches need to get there act together and start their own on line public forums and encourage members to use them. It wouldn't have to necessarily be one forum per church. It could be one for a group of reformed churches in an area. In fact, I think, that it would be better to include multiple churches, this would bring church bodies closer together.
This is a great idea, but how many churches would "fully" endorse every detail of what goes on at the Highway. I would love to see a group of churches support the Highway (and other organizations) and I think all of us should raise the issue to the appropriate people, etc, but let us see what the results are in a few months. From my experience it generally will not happen and if it does happen it may come with stipulations
that are (1) a doctrinal per-peeve of a certain church or the pastor himself, (2) promotional advertising, and (3) other ideas which speak of inexperience in such a ministry. I guess what I am saying is that churches need to learn to work together in "general ways," however I have seen very little inter-church workings of this type be successful. This does not mean we quit trying, but we need some solutions, etc. How do we get churches let us say of the Baptist and Presbyterian sort to work together?
Your post raises some interesting issues and gives us more to consider.
Money always brings this type of dead silence ... why?
I can only speak for myself, but I find it uncomfortable to comment publically about the why's and wherefore's about my/our personal giving. Paul S mentioned not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing, but the passage says more than that:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Also, the decisions that my husband and I make together regarding how and where we should place our giving that is above and beyond what we give to our church are based on very individualized factors that are constantly changing. And we don't always agree, so my husband has the final word. Therefore, I really don't want to answer some of Joe's questions such as "how long has it been, how much, how often, what kind."
Having said that, I don't mind saying that I think it is entirely appropriate, after one has given to one's own church, to support para-church organizations like the Highway that are advancing the Gospel and reaching the lost for Christ and providing educational materials that will aid in the growth of believers in the doctrines of grace.
I also think we must plan to give and that means budgeting for giving above and beyond giving to our church. We have a minimum set amount that we give above and beyond. Sometimes we have been able to go even beyond that when we become aware of an immediate need. So in that way, we both budget and give as we are prompted.
It has taken an inordinate amount of time for me to write this post, which is an indication of just how difficult it is for me to "talk about money."
Most of the folks I know that have started para-church ministries have done so out of frustration. Either their own local church/denomination couldn't see the need or didn't have the time or were unwilling to extend a saction as it were. If the church sees a need for that ministry and it is embraced by the congregation then its not para. Has the church failed to meet needs? Undoubtably. Do Parachurch ministries meet some of those needs? Indeed.
In spite of these things I believe that they are not, overall, healthy endeavors. Even sprawling and successful ministries like Billy Graham's leave jillions of folks--arbitrarily labeled New Christians--unattended in spite of great efforts to work with local churches. Most of them, at least in my experience, end up disillusioned and separated from the church.
This is a bit off topic, but I'm not even really sure if (and I have to use the Baptist church for an example here) Denominational offices are biblical. I think they have leeched a great deal of talent and cash that could have been put to use inside individual churches.
That said, folks should give as the Lord leads them. I've dropped a few dollars in the offering plates of many Crusades. Given to the odd missionary that came through. You do what you can or feel you must.
each member of the church should be contributing in their own God gifted way to the local church.
Question here: Do the Scriptures ever say that you are forbidden to support xyz ministry even if it is not a ministry of your local Church? I am thinking of Paul's ministry again here ... and today, seminaries, hospitals, all which are worthy endeavors and do in some way support the Kingdom ...
Was Paul’s tent making a ministry? What of Peter's fishing fleet? Would we constitute these as a para-Church organizations today or just self-employment with an kingdom flair? Would we support Paul’s making of tents as a ministry? Paul himself submitted to the Church, but was his making of tents submitted?
I wouldn't call Paul's tent making a para-Church ministry. It was a trade that he knew and provided for his living expenses so he didn't have to rely on the giving of the new churches he started. Likewise Peter's work as a fisherman was a vocation that provided income for his family. However, even though I don't see these businesses as para-Church ministries we can still use our positions in the workplace as a platform to share the Gospel. We can also bring glory to God by how we work. Honesty and integrity in the way you work (as unto the Lord, not as men pleasers but as God pleasers - Eph. 6:5-9) and how you treat your employees, vendors, and customers will not go unnoticed. We can be a testimony to Christ in the workplace but in my opinion that doesn't make the workplace a para-Church ministry.
Our jobs should be submitted to the LORD, however, should they be submitted to the eldership of the Church? Is there a difference here? Is every member of the Church suppose to be involved in Church ministry outside the Church and thus do they operate along-side the Church to do the work of the Kingdom? Where do we draw the lines or do we?
It wouldn't be possible for most workplace situations to be ruled by the elders in the church. Not only do the elders not have the resources to oversee every member's business activity but it simply doesn't fall in line with the work they are called to do. However, if a member owned a nightclub or an adult bookstore that would be another matter.
I think the lines have to be drawn between what is the Lord's work and what is simply business activity. The Lord's work has eternal dimensions and most business activity simply produces things that are temporary.
Many para-Church organizations provide materials and services that compliment the Church. They may expand on a work that the Church simply doesn't have the resources to do or work in concert with a larger body of churches to go beyond what any one church could accomplish. I think they need to have good ties to the Church and be accountable to the Church. They should have a clear mission statement and be transparent in all their dealings.
Well for me I look at our work in secular employment as a “broad” notion of a para-church organization—especially when the person owns the business. As members of the Church everything we do is a ministry “beside” the Church. It is either hurting or helping the Kingdom. Though Paul had a tent ministry, when he was in Thessalonica, Philippi, I believe it was, gave to his necessity … Now of course Paul was an Apostle, but apparently here his secular employment was not going too well. I may stand alone here, however supporting worthy seminaries, hospitals, and other charities seems ok too me and even biblical—as nothing commands us not too and it does advance the Kingdom.
As far as accountability I have wrestled with this issue. In many cases this may be possible and in others not. Accounting statements are expensive business if done right. Sometimes a ministry is just to small and it would not be feasible for it to even continue if it had to do such. Take the Highway for instance. It could become a 501-C3 (or whatever they call it in Canada), hire an accountant (an independent auditor with no association to the Highway), publish yearly statements, give us a clear accountability of all the “funds” at the Highway and then we would have a paperwork trail to say “we trust the Highway.” Or, we could just “trust the Highway” and give and in doing so all these funds that would have been spent on this paperwork trail could be used in a different way for the glory of God. In some instances I think accountability may be necessary, however in others I see it as a waste of funds. Things IMO need to be done on a case by case basis and decisions prayerfully made based on all the facts …
<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/my2cents.gif" alt="" />
If you've been ransomed from sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ then you've been blood bought and you are no longer your own but belong body and soul to Him. Giving is not optional. It's just part of being good stewards of all that the Lord has entrusted to our care while we are here.
The problem with many of us Americans is that we haven't surrendered our lives and possessions to the Lord. We live in such a self centered consumer environment. Uncle Sam doesn't allow us to pay him what's left over. He takes the first portion of our income. I believe that before we determine how to spend the rest we give the Lord his share. I also believe 10% off the top (gross income) is only a starting point for a Christian who wants to honor the Lord with his substance. IMHO we should support our local church first and then if we are able we should consider other opportunities.
"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudingly or of necessity; for the Lord loves a cheerful giver." (II Cor. 9:7)
Well stated <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bravo.gif" alt="" />
Yes, thats exactly right. But I can't say that para-church ministries fall into the category of a tithe which is what I was mostly posting about.