When a Parachurch Ministry Tries to Run the Church

Rick Thomas | 8/18/2019 | Rick Thomas
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How much power should a parachurch organization have over a local church? Should a local church submit to a parachurch organization? When your parachurch ministry is interfering with a local church, where will you stand—with your ministry or the church?

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Several years ago, the members of Covenant Life Church (CLC) in Gaithersburg, MD affirmed their leaders’ desire not to permit a parachurch ministry to rule over them. That para-ministry was Sovereign Grace Ministries, which they later rebranded as Sovereign Grace Churches.

CLC - Founding - Flagship - Church - Family

CLC was the founding and flagship church within the family of churches called Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). CLC chose to sever their relationship with this ministry, which spanned thirty years. This development was significant within SGM as well as the evangelical community. During the early 2000s, SGM had enjoyed uninterrupted favor and privilege among many evangelicals.

For the founding church (CLC), which hosted most of SGM’s conferences as well as housed SGM’s Pastor’s College and administrative offices, to leave was no small matter. According to the CLC website, they were “going in a different direction from that of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), the organization that was launched within our church and whose leaders have played a foundational role in the life of our church.”

God - Word - CLC - Decision - Instances

God’s Word supports CLC’s decision. There are no instances or conditions in the New Testament where a non-local church entity should exercise and have ongoing authority over a local church. A biblical purpose for a parachurch organization is to cooperate with and help supplement what God has called the local church to do.

Afterward, Sovereign Grace Ministries released their new polity statement. They outlined how they would exercise their authority over any local church willing to...
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