Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Why Para-Church Youth Ministry Cannot Replace the Local Church

Why Para-Church Youth Ministry Cannot Replace the Local Church

2. Multigenerational discipleship and service.

While para-church ministries have “leaders” and “directors” who (I hope) are older, wiser and spiritually mature, they fail to have the plethora of spiritual fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers to disciple them (Titus 2) and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Moreover, they are not given opportunity to assist parents by discipling and leading younger generations as they themselves mature and grow in the knowledge and love for Christ.

When you see scenes of worship and the community of faith throughout the Old and New Testaments, they are made up of people of all ages. The para-church simply does not functionally support such a biblical pattern.

3. The spiritual and physical oversight by elders and deacons.

This might be one of the clearest deficiencies of para-church groups.

The Scriptures make it clear that churches are to choose qualified (Acts 6; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1) elders and deacons as officers in the church to provide spiritual and physical oversight. Elders, in particular, are to shepherd the congregation, exercising oversight over the flock (1 Pet. 5:2), of which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers (Acts 20:28).

Likewise, Christians are to obey their leaders in the church, submitting to their oversight (Heb. 13:17), and to respect those who are over them in the Lord (1 Thess. 5:12), considering them worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17). Para-church groups cannot practice the oversight of God-established elders to the same degree as a local church.

4. Submission and obedience to church discipline.

Closely linked with the presence of ordained elders in the church is the necessity of church discipline.

For the peace and purity of the church, as well as the restoration of wayward saints, the church is to exercise discipline through admonition, barring of the sacraments, and—in some cases—excommunication (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:9-13). Para-church groups cannot exercise this sort of admonition.