In Part 1, we took a look at the biblical relationship between the local church and parachurch ministries and concluded that the parachurch exists to plant and edify local churches. In Part 2, we turned our attention to campus parachurch organizations and asked whether they were fulfilling their biblical role; unfortunately, it turns out that the roles of church and parachurch on campus have been blurred.
At this point, I’d like to take a little detour and talk about a couple of related issues. The first is the presence of campus churches—churches that are planted on campus that cater exclusively to college students. The second is the lack of local church presence on Christian college campuses.
So, first things first. What about campus churches? Well, it’s pretty obvious why they exist. They’re formed on the theory that college students hate the inconvenience of traveling off-campus to go to church, and that they’re more keen on spending time with other college students rather than with older people who aren’t singing the latest music or teaching things that are relevant to a student’s life. My freshman year of college, I talked with a friend about how I enjoyed being a part of a church with people from a variety of ages and backgrounds; I liked getting out of the “campus bubble.” He replied that he liked the “bubble” and that was why he attended a campus church. He would rather spend all of his time around his peers than around older, more mature believers. He was less comfortable around them, and a church like mine would have inconvenienced him. I’ll go right out and say that I’m not a fan of campus churches because they do such a good job of isolating students from the depth of a local church comprised of people from all stages of life.
As for Christian colleges, you could simply read Part 2 and then magnify the problem by a factor of 10. Christian colleges are themselves parachurch organizations, and they almost totally supplant local churches in the way that they minister to students. The vast majority of Christian college students find their preaching in chapel and their fellowship in their dorms. Other than a clock-in/clock-out attendance on Sunday mornings, they aren’t really a part of one of the surrounding local churches.
It all boils down to convenience. In a convenience-driven culture, the local church doesn’t fit into the college mindset very well. We must learn to value, to appreciate, to love the local church.