We live in a time in which Christian networks are all the rage. Various conferences, coalitions, and parachurch organizations are being formed in order to encourage evangelism and church planting across theological traditions. Cooperation amongst Christians is an encouraging thing to see. This is, in fact, one of the reasons NAPARC was formed, i.e., for the “propagation of the Reformed faith” (Constitution Art III.3) and to “promote cooperation wherever possible and feasible on the local and denominational level in such areas as missions…” (Constitution Art III.4).
It is important to note a difference between the “network model” and the “NAPARC model”, though. While the NAPARC model seeks cooperation in missions, this cooperation is exercised within official ecclesiastical structures. In other words, because these churches have an official relationship, they are able to hold their church plants and church planters accountable for their actions, methods, and message, even if the plant occurs across denominations.
While we would hope that networks and coalitions would move toward a more ecclesiastical expression of unity in missions (the ministry of the visible Church must be our primary means for fulfilling Christ’s Commission), there are things we must also learn from them. These informal partnerships are leading to numerous church plants, sacrificial giving of time and resources, and deep commitments to evangelism and loving one’s neighbor. Though there have surely been ways in which NAPARC churches have cooperated in missions, their boldness in the spread of the gospel is surely worth emulating.