Parachurch organizations are Christian faith-based organizations that work outside of and across denominations to engage in social welfare and evangelism, usually independent of church oversight. These bodies can be businesses, non-profit corporations, or private associations. Most parachurch organizations, at least those normally called parachurch, are Protestant and Evangelical. Some of these organizations cater to a defined spectrum among evangelical beliefs, but most are self-consciously interdenominational and many are ecumenical.
In Protestant and Catholic theology, parachurch organizations are termed sodality, as distinct from modality, which is the structure and organization of the local or universal church.
Roles and organizations
Parachurch organizations perform a number of roles, including:
- evangelistic crusade associations (patterned after the Billy Graham Association)
- evangelistic and discipleship ministries (such as Youth With a Mission (YWAM), InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Scripture Union, Campus Crusade for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and The Navigators,)
- music and print publishers, radio and television stations, film studios, online ministries
- study centers and institutes, schools, colleges and universities
- political and social activist groups
- welfare and social services, including homeless shelters, child care, and domestic violence, disaster relief programs, and food pantries and clothing closets, and emergency aid centers (such as the City Missions or VISUAL)
- self-help groups
- Bible study groups
- Wesley K. Willmer, J. David Schmidt, Martyn Smith, The Prospering Parachurch: Enlarging the Boundaries of God's Kingdom