Should Mission Strategy Always Be Congregationally Based?

Johnson-Interior-1Rick Warren once said, “In the first century, mission strategy was always congregationally based…. Local churches accepted the responsibility for Jesus’ Great Commission and his Great Commandment.” Today, Warren writes, that he sees that most local churches have become “sidelined and uninvolved” because the agencies are saying, “pray, pay and get out of the way.” Warren further challenges his readers: “I believe the proper role for all the great parachurch and relief organizations is to serve local churches in a supportive way, offering their expertise and knowledge, but allowing local churches around the world to be the central focus and the distribution centers.” [1]


Is Warren correct?  Was 1st century mission strategy “always” congregationally based?

Should parachurch and relief organizations serve local churches?  What do you think that means? How would it look?

Should local churches be the central focus and THE distribution centers?  What if the Mission strategized local churches instead of vice versa?  




[1] Paul Borthwick. Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church? (Kindle Locations 822-826). Kindle Edition.

0 thoughts on “Should Mission Strategy Always Be Congregationally Based?

  1. Carlos says:

    As much as I think saying so is not going to change anyone’s mind (since no one ever seems to change their mind about anything in all the years I have discussed spiritual truth online with others) it is my belief that para-church organizations are not good. Not good at all.

    Instead of dealing with the core issues that make church less than what it ought to be we start para-church organizations claiming that they are there to help the church while the truth is that such organizations allow the church to avoid or put off having to change.

    I say trust the Lord and work at raising the church up to be what it is supposed to be and forget the para-church organizations.

    Better to have a whole limb working correctly than an artificial appendage.

    Sure the appendage helps but surely God can help the church become whole without the need for anything artificial to be added to make up for it’s failures.

    Just my two cents.


  2. David Bartholomew says:

    There are no such things as para church organizations. It is all part of the Church Universal. It is a shame that they need to be founded, however it is great that they actually draw believers from different traditions to work together to share the gospel.

  3. Marshall says:

    “parachurch” is a word in use describing a form of ministry malignancy occurring when men attempt to use an ancillary organization as a means to fill a perceived gap or need. It can be quite challenging to gather the members in Christ out of a parachurch group, returning them to operating in ekklesia. Parachurch functions continue to be responsible for most missional failures worldwide, and are notorious for bringing forward an agenda or focus that is some other than Christ. Also becoming known, how parachurch remains second only to denominationalism in the overall propagation of false or attenuated gospel.

    Consequently, Warren is in primary and secondary error. A significant part of mission directed by the Holy Spirit does come to include more than one local ekklesia. These examples (among the genuine) most often have very little to do with money or logistics, and very much to do with saints acting together as one.

    • SSH says:

      Are you proposing that all para-church ministries are “malignant”? I pray not.

      I absolutely agree that such ministry/mission is first and foremost the calling/responsibility of His Church. But if the institutional church in America (or any country) has turned away from God with respect to this command/calling, then God’s mission will not be put on hold while He waits for “her” to repent. His Church is comprised of His true followers, and these individuals will continue to submit-to/obey God rather then men and tradition. In some cases, this causes the formation of what we refer to as para-church ministries. For many Christ followers, church and para-church are not an either/or, but a both/and. It may be difficult in that they will face opposition within their respective churches, but they remain faithful witnesses in the midst of it.

      Having said that, I also acknowledge that some para-church organizations can be “malignant”. I would just urge each of us to not rush to judgement and categorize all as good or bad. I would also encourage each of us to call the institutional church (and ourselves if necessary) to repentance for not answering the fundamental, crucial calling – and to do this in Love (grace and truth).

      • Marshall says:

        both sects/cults and parachurch are formed in the like processes of malignancy. SSH, I am no longer resigned to be using a subjective case-by-case evaluation. (If a parachurch group might be found that was not grown & sustained in malignancy, where & when?) It’s no “rush to judgment” after 40 years of searching & examining in hope for some measure of institutional legitimacy, yet none can honestly be found. Malignancy, rather than “good or bad”, is to be functioning apart from the Head (Christ), and consequently is tumorous; exuding some illness.

        The evidence for the institutional church having “turned away from God” appears very thin when we consider that “Christian” religious systems actually are born & raised as sects or groups of sects. The RCC being example prime, and her Protestant children as sects of a sect. This process of men decided they are going to “borrow & build” Christianity by their own means and to their own design conceives a counterfeit from their first day’s effort. In effect, they have not turned away because these were not first altogether turned to Him. Nevertheless, Grace continued & continues to rescue men into Christ despite proliferation & diversification of fraud and “clownery” labeled “Christian”. The same Amazing Grace that is saving men today in bars & brothels.

        • SSH says:

          Very interesting reasoning/logic in that 2nd paragraph! 😉 I take it that you are an avid reader of G.K.?

          You seem to be making the claim that malignancy is to be found in both para-church ministry and the institutional church. And there is truth to this. I originally thought that your comments were specific to para-church.

          However, I am still confused by your comment about “institutional legitimacy” in the first paragraph. In my experience, institutionalized religion seems to foster more “malignancy” than any of para-church ministries for which I have 1st-hand knowledge.

          We can both be thankful that Christ was not concerned with institutional legitimacy. Rather, He was quick to confront it and expose all of the embedded legalism/self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.