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

5. The joy and responsibilities of church membership. 

Youth see few models of committed love, committed relationships, committed anything today.

In the church, youth can (hopefully) witness a number of committed relationships between spouses, families and church members, all which are lacking in most para-church ministries.

Moreover, Christians have the privilege and responsibilities of joining a local church, pledging to support its worship and work, supporting it financially, serving through spiritual gifts, and practically placing themselves under the ordained, God-given leadership.

6. An emphasis on family.

In a fundraising plug, one young man spent nearly 30 minutes outlining how he wanted to reach teenagers through a para-church ministry. When he finished, I looked at him and said, “In your entire presentation, you did not mention the local church or family. Why?”

He didn’t know, and he is not alone. You would be hard pressed to find much about the importance of family—honoring father and mother, preparing to be good fathers, mothers, husbands or wives, etc.—on para-church websites, during para-church meetings or in para-church study groups. They are simply not set up to support the family.

I have seen and heard a number of positive examples of lives being changed in para-church youth ministries. But rather than using those examples to legitimize their preeminence over and against the local church, we should prioritize and pour our energies into the local church.

Let’s re-affirm the God-given, God-revealed, God-ordained institution of the local church—its worship, its discipleship, its leaders, its discipline and its families. His Word is sufficient.