My question is this. Is the parachurch replacing the church? Well I would say in some ways it is and has and in some ways it isn't and hasn't.
First the definition of a “parachurch” from Wikipedia (not always a good source) ~ Parachurch organization. Parachurch organizations are Christian faith-based organizations that work outside of and across denominations to engage in social welfare and evangelism, usually independent of church oversight.
The reality is that parachurches have really taken up a portion of what was and still is the responsibility of the church. Things like feeding the poor, clothing the poor, hospital visitation, tending to the sick, and supplying the funds to do this work.
I guess the real question is why has the parachurch taken over these responsibilities? I would say that it is because there is a lack of desire to fulfill these commands within the church itself.
Now I am not saying that all churches have veered from these responsibilities but for the most part most have.
Many churches are vocal about their concern about the parachurch and its significance in Christianity and how it is taking away from the church itself. What these churches should be asking themselves is why is it that they as the church have not followed what God has laid out for them to do. Most churches will say, “we will pray for you.” Great! Prayer is an important part of the Christian faith. But when it comes to financing ministry most churches will decline calling for those who are doing it to be self supported.
Now I understand that the church can't finance everyone who has been called to ministry but most churches will not finance any ministry that is outside the walls of the church.
As we look at nonprofits and if they are a good nonprofit or not we look at how much of the money taken in actually goes to the cause. Many will say a good nonprofit will have 90% of the money coming in going out to the cause. If we look at the church how is it doing if held up to the same standards?
Now churches do have responsibilities to itself and the costs associated with it but how many churches do you think give 50% to outside ministry? How about 40%, 30% even 20%? I'm not sure most would even meet the 20% level or even 10%.
So the parachurch has stepped in to fill this command that the church as a whole has avoided and has determined not to fulfill. The parachurch has become a vital part of the Christian faith and will continue to be as long as the church avoids its responsibilities.