I’m currently taking Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, a great class through the U.S. Center for World Mission. This week, one of the articles we read is by the late Ralph Winter, a man passionate about Christ being worshipped among all peoples, and one of the wisest regarding world missions, Scripture, and Christ.
He wrote an article entitled, The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission. It’s a phenomenal article that shows how God has used the local church as well as parachurch structures throughout the history of God’s people. It has so many great insights about the need for both of these structures.
The Lord used people in a parachurch ministry to impact my life in a way that I had never experienced before that. The intensity of devotion to Christ, Scripture, authentic community, evangelism and world missions was so appealing to me, and so beneficial in my walk with Christ. In this article, Winter discusses the good of both, and makes an appeal that we should not dismiss the parachurch structures. Winter discusses how it is often the parachurch, or, “sodalities”, that God has used to further His global mission outward, when the local church, or, “modalities”, have sometimes become so inward focused. In my experience in the local church, I’ve experienced a number of people who would say that in an ideal world, the parachurch wouldn’t exist. However, as we look at the book of Acts, and the rest of the New Testament, it appears that there are people who God desires to form the local church, and those who are supposed to go off in “missionary bands” and as their primary function, to preach the Gospel and be used to bring others to Christ.
He does not say one structure is better than the other, but does say that both are important and both are necessary. I encourage you to check it out here.