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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Satellite Churches

It happened again today. They opened another one. It seems to be the trend, as a joyous mega-church announces the "planting" of another church. They're very excited. There's lots of technology. The pastor's sermons will be video recorded and replayed at the new "church plant." It'll be wonderful!

But it leaves me cold. It leaves me wondering if this is how God wants His church to grow. I have poured through the New Testament several times and cannot find even one mention of "satellite churches." It seems to me that churches are supposed to be thriving, living organisms - capable of sustaining life on their own - not dependent on some "mother church" forever.

When did church planting cease to be about empowering and sending out new leaders whom called has called? When did it become about greater magnification of the great preacher and so-and-so mega-church? Does it really honor God to have one great preacher beamed by satellite to several locations? Wouldn't God be more honored - and the cause of New Testament churches be better served - if so-and-so mega-church would train other great preachers and send them out?

I'm impressed with churches that plant other churches. I'm impressed with churches that grow great leaders and send them out. But I have to confess, that I am deeply saddened by the current trend of famous preachers. They get a good thing going and it seems they don't know when to stop.

They get 5,000 people or even 25,000 people hearing this guy on Sunday. Somehow, in their infinite wisdom, they stand there and tell me that they are following God's lead - to video tape themselves and try to be virtual in several other communities. If you want to be on TV and get more people to watch you - then do so. But don't call it a church. I know what a New Testament church looks like. And it isn't about the preacher. It isn't about the "church model." It isn't even about the "exciting, relevant worship."

I have some questions for the senior pastors of these mega-churches with their satellites. Did God call you to be the senior pastor or the senior preacher? (There is a difference!) Does God call you to star - or does He call you to serve? How much fame do you need before you feel satisfied in your ministry? Does the number of satellite churches increase your book royalties all that much?

Okay, I know I'm sounding judgmental and condescending. On the other hand, perhaps I'm the voice of reason - in a world that seems to be deceiving itself about who God is. Pray for the church of today. And pray for its leaders. Lord, let them not be deceived by their own cleverness.

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