Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Church & Para-church

Last night I was at a fundraising banquet for Campus Life/Youth for Christ. It was an interesting experience. It was no secret that it was a fundraiser but I was a little wary of the stories they told that seemed to seek to play on your emotions. Of course a less cynical way of looking at it is to say that they were sharing wonderful stories of God's mercy, love and grace in the lives of students & their families. But I was feeling slightly cynical last night. :-) I've heard a number of criticisms about Youth for Christ (YFC) and their apparent lack of commitment to working with local churches. But I know they also reach an audience that the church doesn't readily have access to, namely, public school students.

Anyhow, as my mind follows random tangents, it got me thinking about church and why I go to church. Is it for fun? For spiritual growth? For community? To serve the body of Christ, the Church? Perhaps a combination of all of these and more? One thing I am certain of, we are called over and over to serve one another and I believe this takes place within the context of the church.

So lately I've been bothered by my lack of service to the church, well that's not entirely accurate. I'm very involved at church, serving on the leadership of our young adult group, volunteering in various aspects around our church, etc. But I majored in youth ministry for a reason. I love students - Jr High, Sr High, College, doesn't matter, I love students. But my church is blessed to have more than enough workers in these ministries so that there is not a place for me there. So what do I do with this desire to work with students? Do I join a ministry like YFC (I'd kinda rather work in the context of a church or at least close partnership with a church)? So then, do I find another church where there is a need for student workers? I'm completely and totally against "church shopping" which seems to be so popular in our culture so I don't want to hop from church to church to church and I'm not looking for the "perfect" church either. I'm just torn with a desire to minister to students and not being at a church that needs workers in that area.

Christ established the church. We see it in the OT and NT. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like para-church organizations have sprung up to meet a need that the church didn't adequately respond to. But shouldn't they still seek to work in partnership with local churches?

And of course, this begs the question: what is the church? But I think I shall have to dive into that in another post.

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