Monthly Archives: December 2012

God’s Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission


University of California Press; 1997

Griffith’s work[1] centers on research about prayer-filled women within an international, Pentecostal, evangelical, parachurch organization (still running today) called Aglow Women’s Fellowship. While reading and analyzing her research about the initial attraction, then success, of this international women’s organization, it made me wonder why and how it was so effective. It seemed obvious at first—Aglow was an opportune space for evangelical women to find community. Yet, there were other available spaces for evangelical women like the local church. So,what role did the local church play in the unintentional push of people towards the parachurch and what did the parachurch offer people that they pulled people away from the primary commitment to the local church?

Religious leaders have contested amongst one another about the the tension and fragile relationship between local churches and parachurch organizations time and time again. In “The Church and the Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage,”[2] Dyrness explains both sides of the argument. Local church leaders feel concerned that parachurches “drain leadership and finances and often lack doctrinal or operational accountability.” They hold very strong convictions that the church, which is Christ’s bride, is the most important earthly organization that will last when all others will fade. It is the brand that it most common worldwide. The article mentioned was written in 1984, but the topic has not ceased to bubble up again in this decade.

Recently, there was a publicly aired interview conversation between two mainstream, evangelical, male church pastors, Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren. Driscoll asks Warren “Why are you still in the local church? Why not something else?” Driscoll implies that Warren could be creating nonprofits, parachurches, or doing other things that could make international impact. Warren answers, “I learned a long time ago that the church is God’s agenda. The church is the only things that is going to last.” Warren clearly states the primary importance and position of the church in God’s kingdom plan and his current ongoing work above other even Christian organizations.

On the other hand, White states that parachurch leaders believe that churches are “either insensitive to or incapable of meeting specialized needs.” Aglow is a parachurch that encourages members to be loyal members of their local churches because they understand that the church is primary, while parachurches are supplementary to religious followers. However, the problem is that time, financial and emotional commitment to this group would seem otherwise. The strength of Aglow was that it focused on the specialized needs of women, thus helping the women feel more important and personally connected through the network of small groups. These women were being regularly heard and even supernaturally healed, opportunities that weren’t as readily encouraged within some local churches—especially depending on the denomination.

The rise and success of evangelical Christian parachurches can be seen as manifestations and symptoms of the lack/gap that the local churches have in meeting the needs of people. Thus, there needs to be a healthy partnership and communication between local church leaders and parachurch leaders to work together in serving the people of their communities.

[1] Griffith, R. Marie. God’s Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission. Berkeley: University of California, 1997. Print.

[2] Dyrness, William A. “The Church and The Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 8.3 (1984): 135-318. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. Dec. 2012.

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