Outsourcing church: there is a cost

Michael Kellahan

Why are there great swathes of church life that we happily outsource to denominational or parachurch agencies?

World Mission? Talk to CMS.

Good works? That would be Anglicare.

Theological Education? Moore College.

Church Planting? Lets start a new network!

The list could go on.

I know there are good arguments for this outsourcing: efficient use of resources, the quality of service provision, the difficulties for small churches to do some of these things.

But the costs need careful consideration. The danger is that the local church loses a connection with and vision for these vital ministries. We assume it is being done by someone else and so fail to own this ministry at a local level - ‘caring for the poor is no longer our responsibility.’ We also risk presenting a truncated version of the church and the gospel message to our local community.

So what should we do in the local church?

  1. Work hard at developing good relationships with these agencies. So for example link up with Anglicare’s Care Together Parish Link program.  Have someone in the church that is passionate about Anglicare’s ministry and connects it with the local church.
  2. Don’t outsource everything. Our obligation to world mission is not exhausted because CMS exists. What can be done at a local level to promote world mission? (or theological education or are for the poor or church planting etc)

I’m glad we are able to work together in partnership to do things we may struggle to do at a parish level. But I’m wary that by doing things together we may fail to see just how important the partnership of the local church is.