This week we continue our discussion about satellite churches and how they appear to be growing in number and in participation. The main interest here is whether they are first of all, biblical, and then if they are a necessity in today’s church culture. Last week the following question was posed: Why would a church a number of miles away feel it necessary to rent a large meeting room, hold a meeting, televise it by closed circuit to the home church, and call it a church worship service, especially in an area where numerous local churches exist and many of them strong churches that are preaching and teaching correct biblical doctrine? This question then leads to the concern as to what are the real motives for establishing these satellite churches and this week the intent is to point out some potential motives that may be behind them. At this point the writer is not trying to arrive at a final answer to the question, just point out some possibilities to consider.
So let’s start first with what all of us hope would be the motive behind the movement. That is this. It is a sincere and honest effort to share the gospel with more people than just those in the area in which the main church resides. In other words, it is an attempt to follow the Great Commission that is outlined in Matthew and Acts, to evangelize the larger area and then ultimately the world. We all understand that this is not just a suggestion but a commandment from our Lord himself. From the recent past point of view this includes local missions, state missions, missions across our own country and of course, missions in foreign countries. However, these mission efforts occur through a born again believer that God has called for that purpose and that missionary is supported by a local church or group of local churches. There are also other mission oriented organizations that do short-term excursions in foreign countries to provide, medical, dental, and other services to the people there in addition to sharing the good news of the gospel. Hopefully this finds an end in that area with a new church established that will be led by a local pastor. So if this is the real motive for organizing a new satellite church it could be a reasonable assumption that it is a good thing.
But now let’s take a look at some other possible motives. One of the most obvious ones that comes to mind is money. We’ve seen many television evangelistic programs that have brought quite an abundance of wealth to the promoters and the evangelist. But we have seen many of them fail because of pride, greed, and other sins that became obvious and made public. And on the other side of the coin, there are still quite a few around that are raking in the cash. The same thing could very well be going on with some of these satellite church organizations. The Bible talks about bringing all our tithes into the storehouse and how the gospel preacher is worthy of his hire. That is, tithes are to be used to support the pastor and to meet the needs of the church and people who are in need. So the question here is this. “If the participants of the satellite church are giving their tithes there, are they aware of how they are being used and know who is accountable for the stewardship of the tithes?” We need to be reminded that money is the root of all sorts of evils and that has never changed.
What about the motive of power and prestige? We all have known some church leaders that have devised all kinds of programs and pushed various ideas that on the surface appeared to be for the growth of the church just to later find out that it was a personal agenda for them to feed their ego and make themselves look good. That’s exactly what was going on with the scribes and Pharisees in New Testament Days and I’m sad to say that things haven’t changed and there are more leaders out there than we think that fit this category.
Another motive to consider is centered around efforts to slowly move the church towards a different theology than what has been espoused and accepted in the past. All we have to do is look at what is happening in many of our local churches and see how the theology has shifted towards something other than what we’ve known in the past. I’m not saying that the past is always right but we need to be very careful about what we are hearing today. These changes normally are coming from someone who is seminary educated and most of what they have learned has come from someone else and not from their own personal study of God’s Word. And folks I believe this is one of the main reasons why so many local churches are slowly dying. So many believers are listening to what some man (or woman) says instead of studying God’s Word on their own and letting the Holy Spirit enlighten them. This could be the number one motive for why we are seeing so many of these satellite churches springing up around us.
Well, we have covered some of the possible motives but there may be others that come to your mind. Again, I am looking for a good answer to the question of the biblical validity and the necessity of these organizations. Next week we will attempt to take everything we’ve discussed into consideration and come to a conclusion of the matter. I don’t know that there is a “right” answer but each of us have an opinion and we will share ours next week. But remember, in most cases opinions are worth about as much as they cost and most of the time that is nothing. Just more food for thought.