We used to have a term for mission organizations that worked outside of the traditional church. We called them ‘para-church’ organizations as if they were not quite the substance of church but, instead, ministries that came alongside the ‘real’ church.
Over the years, most of us have realized that those ministries which we called ‘para-church’ were often more ‘church’ than what we traditionally called ‘church.’ In other words, the efforts made to take the Kingdom of God to people in the world through rescue missions, homeless shelters, and inner city ministries is a wonderful shape of the apostolic church.
God has blurred the lines in our definition of church to help us innovate, re-focus, and discover the essential elements of a church that looks more like Jesus-in-the-world would look. As a result, we now use many terms to describe the living church: simple church, organic church, missional church, where-two-or-three gather. The point is that this blurring and, perhaps, refocusing on the true nature of church is giving rise to many innovative expressions.
Spencer Burke, as an example, is experimenting with an incubator to help people shape ‘common cause communities.’
We’re blurring the line between ministries and churches. We are at the forefront of the transition from "teaching-centric" to "service-centric" church planting.
It is an exciting time as God continues to re-shape His church to look more like Himself in a world that needs Him more than ever.