Original Research

The church and the parachurch: Can the two dialogue in order to agree?

Kelebogile T. Resane
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2099 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2099 | © 2020 Kelebogile T. Resane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2020 | Published: 15 December 2020

About the author(s)

Kelebogile T. Resane, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

This article surveys the ongoing tensions between the church and the parachurch. It starts by defining the parachurch ministries as organisations that work outside and across denominations, and seek to come alongside the church and specialise in activities that individual churches may not be able to specialise in by themselves. These movements are characterised as Protestant, evangelical and ecumenical, focused on evangelism and social welfare, and of course focused on and specialist in methods of their activities. In order to understand them, their legitimacy should be argued from historical perspective more than from Scriptural perspective. Their critics lean towards scriptural and theological debate to deregulate them, whilst their proponents use historical and effectiveness to defend them. The historical proliferation of parachurches centres them in nodal dialogue as important partners in Christianity. The areas of tensions with the church are highlighted as those based on theology, finances, accountability, governance, and human resources. The reality of parachurches is irreversible. They make impact on South African Christianity by producing outstanding leaders that are currently in key positions in the civil service, churches and corporate world. An appeal is that the church and the parachurch should enter into dialogue with each other in order to find a common ground of how to advance the kingdom of God in the world wreathing in pain of oppression, poverty, unemployment, social stigmas, etc.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is written from a personal experience and perspective. Almost three quarters of my ministry involvement is with the parachurch organisations. By reviewing the literature from church history and missiology and practical and systematic theology, it reveals the rationale behind tensions between church and parachurch organisations. These tensions are debated theologically and historically, and thus it is recommended that these two entities must draw a synergy by engaging dialogically in order to see how to complement each other.


Keywords

church; parachurch; theology; denomination; dialogue; ecumenical

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