Christ came to build his church and that is what he charged his apostles to do, but i argue that what is being described as â€œthe churchâ€ is limited to to â€œthe local church/esâ€. i can only comment on my experience at louisville, but this parachurch of ccc has fueled many local churches with students who know how to share their faith (something that many adults seldom if ever do), they know how to study the scriptures, they can disciple and be discipled, and they know what community and fellowship applied look like, and they know how to give. in parachurch ccc at uofl i have never sensed an us verses them, cru verses the church mentality. i have, on the other hand noticed an us verses them mentality of â€œlocal churchâ€ verses â€œlocal church.”
CCC is targeting the young and so-called ’emerging’ generations. 50 years ago, CCC cut its teeth on direct contact evangelism. Crusade staff used to actually get out the phone book and call students at random in the dorms to try to set up evangelistic appointments (this was rare, but it did happen). Those methods are all but dead. Large scale outreaches, Billy Graham crusades, and event driven evangelism will reach a shrinking number of people (and that’s putting it graciously). The old CCC methods will no longer work in a significant way.
So what methods are working? Community outreach, where the community itself is the most powerful resource the community has. People are drawn into the authenticity of the gospel centered community. The mantra of many churches reaching young people is “you belong before you believe.” To a great degree, I think this strategy is appropriate and will work, so long as church membership is still strongly emphasized.
This puts the parachurch in a precarious position. To use the methods that work best, namely, community driven evangelism, the parachurch must establish communities on campus that are not churches. But the church is a community. So students are forced to choose which community they will show greater allegiance to. The church always has the trump card here, because the church is the biblical community, whereas the parachurch is an evangelistic enterprise. For students who are in the parachurch primarily, to whom will they be accountable? Elders? No, they don’t exist. Pastors? None there, either. They are forced to go outside their primary community where their relationships are to a secondary community where the person they are most accountable to may be their Bible study leader who is a 2 year old Christian. Is there a better way? And if the church can do this just as effectively as the parachurch, why would we resist it?
The parachurch at one time could work alongside the church as the evangelistic arm and do R&D work for the body of Christ. But the church has caught up and is now using these methods biblically. That’s exciting, because it shows that the more church plants adopt these methods, the less need there is for parachurch ministries.
Honestly, wouldn’t we rather see churches do their jobs rather than outsourcing to parachurches?