Nine Marks of a Healthy Parachurch Ministry

Mark 1: A healthy parachurch ministry knows that it exists primarily to protect the church.

The Medford Gospel Mission provides an avenue to reach marginalized people in our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do the ministry of evangelism and live-in long-term discipleship. As men, women, and children join our restoration programs, they are required to join a local protestant/evangelical church of their choice where they can grow through its preaching ministry and be involved in the life of their local church.

The church has a unique and high ministerial calling that stands above all others: the right teaching and preaching of the Word. So, when the many good things begin to encroach on the primary task of the church, the parachurch can take that good ministry onto its own shoulders and so protect the church. )

Mark 2: A healthy parachurch ministry makes a clear distinction between church and parachurch.

The Medford Gospel Mission makes a clear distinction between its role and the role of the church in the life of a believer. Bible study, chapel, Christ-centric restoration classes, prayer, and serving are important parts of our Whole Person Restoration program but they are not designed to replace responsibilities of the local church.

The Mission points people to the local church where they can join a local congregation and receive the benefits of baptism, communion, and discipline.

The church is the God-ordained local assembly of believers who have committed themselves to each other. They gather regularly, they teach the Word, celebrate communion and baptism, discipline their members, establish a biblical structure of leadership, they pray and give together. Certainly, the church may do more, but it is not less than this. )

Mark 3: A healthy parachurch ministry avoids acting like the church.

Within the scope of orthodox protestant/evangelicalism there are many important doctrines that churches disagree on. To work peacefully with the varied local church, the Medford Gospel Mission’s statement of faith identifies key foundational doctrines that are essential to the protestant/evangelical faith.

The Medford Gospel Mission does not take stances on doctrines that could cause division amongst staff, program participants, volunteers, or donors.

The Medford Gospel Mission is closed during regular Lord’s day church hours and all program participants are required to attend Lord’s day worship at a church of their choice.

Employees of the Mission must make every effort to separate their own church preferences to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest and encourage unity within the larger local church body.

Mark 4: A healthy parachurch ministry does not pressure the church to act like a parachurch.

The Medford Gospel Mission has a long history of working together with local churches. Support of the Mission has been varied and although we desire to equip all the churches to do the work of evangelism and live-in restorative discipleship not all churches desire to partner with us. This in now way separates us from the goal of building the local church, whether they support the work of the Mission or not.

Healthy parachurch ministries should practice and teach the distinction between church and parachurch, so that they don’t violate their chief reason for existing: to protect the church. )

Mark 5: A healthy parachurch ministry humbly heeds the history of parachurch movements.

The Medford Gospel Mission is all too aware that parachurch ministries are historically prone to drift away from their original mission by putting the desires of the secular community before the orthodox understandings of the Word of God. Therefore, we strive to stay gospel focused in all areas of the ministry and require all board members and employees to understand, uphold, and agree with the Mission’s statement of faith on an annual basis.

Mark 6: A healthy parachurch ministry understands the difference between the pragmatic and the principled.

The Medford Gospel Mission is constantly refining programs and services to better reach the ever-changing needs of our community but stands on the Word of God and relies first and foremost on the faithfulness of God to do His work in our community.

Mark 7: The healthy parachurch has a counter-cultural understanding of management and money.

The Medford Gospel Mission utilizes financial “best-practices” in managing its finances. To stay true to the Missions purpose, we embrace the Ten Principles of Transformational Giving. )

• Principle 1: Transformational Giving is based on the abundance and trustworthiness of God, not a theology of scarcity.

• Principle 2: Every act of giving is first and foremost a statement about the faithfulness of God.

• Principle 3: God invites people to be part of his work because of his desire to see them grow in him.

• Principle 4: Giving time, talent, treasure, and testimony is a result of champions being comprehensively coached in the cause.

• Principle 5: Ministry leaders have a dual calling to steward the mission and grow the people God brings.

• Principle 6: The liberating nature of generosity means inviting champions to give is a sacred task that grows God’s kingdom.

• Principle 7: Ministry leaders coach champions according to the degree of their personal ownership in the cause.

• Principle 8: Champions connect with organizations primarily to enhance their mutual impact on the cause.

• Principle 9: The relationship between champion and champion is as important as the relationship between champion and organization.

• Principle 10: Champions are called to be a primary means of advancing the cause.

Mark 8: The healthy parachurch maintains a strong commitment to, and understanding of, the gospel.

Mission guests come from various doctrinal backgrounds and it is our desire to encourage them to become well-grounded in the basics and the fundamentals of the Evangelical/Protestant Christian faith. To maintain peace and unity among all the churches, we ask our employees and volunteers to limit all teaching and preaching to the essential doctrines of the faith as defined in the Medford Gospel Missions statement of faith.

One of the best reasons for a parachurch ministry to exist is to bring people together who are passionately committed to the gospel but who might not agree on every secondary doctrine. The gospel is the message from God that leads us to salvation. As we learn from Scripture, the gospel is the message that tells us how a holy and loving God sent his Son as a ransom for sinners, and that through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead any who would repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ can be reunited with God for eternity. )

Mark 9: A healthy parachurch ministry seeks accountability relationships with the church.

Being in accountability relationships with the church goes beyond mere church membership or attendance. The Medford Gospel Mission seeks to build honest, transparent, and accountable relationships with local churches and is always open to input and critique.