Thanks for the comments guys. I think there are tremendous advantages to the parachurch, but on the whole, the campus ministry variety is a dying class. But first, the good news.
Here’s are some advantages of parachurch ministry:
1. Scope: Singular commitment to a particular vision that has the muscle to reach a larger scope.The local church is at a disadvantage because its scope is going to be, by definition, limited to a particular community.
2. Ecumenism: Since CCC doesn’t focus on doctrines that can tend to divide, it can sweep up a large number of laborers into the umbrella for the purposes of evangelism, while leaving the doctrinal concerns under the purview of their specific churches.
3. Unhindered Focus: CCC can legitimately target those who would be ‘leaders’ while not givingÂ much attention to those who are less fortunate. That means CCC will generally focus on the educated, the attractive, the influential, the popular, and the articulate. These are the sorts of people that movements are built upon. A church would abandon its mandate if it were to neglect these people, but because CCC is an evangelistic enterprise and not a church, it is not forced to care for those who will not directly advance the mission.
4. The Edge: Because CCC will always be working with the “emerging” generation of young people, they will always have the edge of knowing what trends are taking place in the culture. Campus Crusade was on the forefront of seeker sensitive ministry before Bill Hybels and Willow-Back got on board.
Analysis: With these advantages, why is CCC losing influence? Is it merely because our founder and president is dead?
No. Campus Crusade filled the void at a pivotal time in history when the conservative church had abandoned its Great Commission mandate and buried itself in fundamentalist protectionism. Bill Bright’s vision was large and no church would embrace it. However, (and i say this with sadness) I think CCC will continue to lose influence because now that it has been around for 60 years, its flaws are becoming more visible.
It is, in many respects, a victim of its own success and influence. By this I mean that CCC put out with factory like precision two generations of missional minded people who were committed to the same things that the larger church ignored or thought it already had covered. CCC was the best at building communities of faith with deep relationships, calling people to radical commitment to Christ, Great Commission obsession, contemporary worship music, and so on. The church was quite comfortable in its own routine, largely due to the abandonment of the Great Commission and the influence of fundamentalist protectionism.
But the church learned from parachurch ministries, especially as those college students became pastors, teachers, elders, and so on, and help refocus the church. Now that those values have been largely embraced by the broader church, the church has also recognized that the parachurch way of embracing those values are fundamentally deficient.
Its kind of like learning to read using rudimentary and flawed techniques. After learning to read, one reads about better methods of learning to read and uses that knowledge to teach others the new method.
Its the same with the church and parachurch. The parachurch taught the church many valuable things. The church embraced them over time, only to learn that the parachurch was a flawed approach to embracing those values it had now come to embrace.
My prediction: church planting will replace the parachurch as the primary vehicle for evangelism in the USA. I’ll supply these reasons in a forthcoming post…