Q. In a recent answer about the para-church movement you said, “More and more people are turning to places like the internet to meet their spiritual needs. This has the added benefit of leading believers back into the pattern of self study, something the Lord always intended for us. (Acts 17:11)” What is the para-church movement?
A. The prefix “para” means to be alongside of or resemble. Paramedics and paralegals work alongside doctors and lawyers and do work that resembles theirs. They aren’t meant to replace doctors or lawyers, but to assist them.
Likewise, para-church ministries aren’t meant to replace churches but to assist them. Historically, they have provided a more concentrated approach to various aspects of the Church’s overall mission than traditional churches offer.
For example, traveling crusades focus on evangelistic outreach to the exclusion of everything else. Rescue Missions meet the needs of the homeless. Food Banks help feed the hungry. Pregnancy Resource Centers counsel women on Biblical alternatives to abortion. Orphanages raise children when their parents can’t. These are all para-church organizations.
But as Churches continue to move away from Bible based teaching, para-church ministries have come alongside to help there, too, and have become a major source of in depth Bible studies. The internet has been a convenient medium for these ministries because of the large numbers of people that can be reached.
Today you can literally pick any topic you choose and with a little searching have access to some of the best teaching available to guide you in your study, along with the freedom to do so on your own schedule and at your own pace. It’s also a convenient way to search the Scriptures daily to make sure what you’re being told the truth (Acts 17:11).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105)