Sunday, January 25, 2009

Christian Unions love the local church

Writing in clear defence of 'parachurch' movements and in stunning love of the church, former director of OMF, Michael Griffiths...
"Surely the aim of the whole operation must be the planting and perfecting of new colonies of heaven, new congregations of beautiful people... Missionary work has to be church-centred if it is to be effective... It needs to be strongly emphasied.. that the criterion for the success of an interdenominational group is the extent to which it contributes towards the building up of the church. Take a university Christian Union, for example. The test of its effectiveness is not the number of students who belong to it, or even the proportion of the membership who have been converted through its ministry... The test is long term, and is in the extent to which its former members are now integrated into and playing a part in the leadership of the local church.... they must be judged by the criterion of the benefits which they bring to the churches." *
That's the kind of ministry I want to see through the Christian Unions of the South West of England.

See also Parachurch that loves the local church
* p136-138 Cinderella with Amnesia (Michael Griffiths, IVP 1975); p173 Get your act together Cinderella (Michael Griffiths, IVP 1989)


  1. Good quote. My fear is though, that your commitment is not true of a lot of parachurch organisations, who in effect take Christians' focus off the local church. Yes they may technically be members of a local church, (though some not even that) but often church is not really where its happening and where their commitment lies.

    Its also about the extent to which church is the method as well as the goal... hermeneutic of the gospel and all that.

  2. Thanks Dave, preach it brother! Michael Griffith's book Cinderella with Amnesia was a "paradigm shifter" for me when I read it as a student.

    I think this will always be an uphill battle to insill this value in CUs though. Lots more work to be done.

  3. Ant - I agree it's not always happening, but hopefully CUs are a good model - of students locked into the community of local church, engaged in wider partnership for the good of the churches.

    The flipside is the that some churches totally miss and deride the value of parachurch. Griffiths notes that the evangelical church has no idea how much it owes to parachurch ministry.

    In Exeter I love that the evangelical churches throw their weight behind three parachurch ministries which exist for the good of the churches, a schoolswork ministry, YMCA and UCCF.

    The church is the key method - but Griffiths argues, as I would, that that doesn't always mean only a local churhch, but can mean partnerships of churches (parachurch).

    Stanton - Michael Griffiths is a hero. It's an uphill battle to instill love for the church in Christians (CUs are no exception), but it's one we can accomplish - I think UCCF is wise to that increasly as a fellowship, and I think probably the churches are learning to the church too.