We have spent the last three weeks discussing what I refer to as satellite churches in an attempt to determine if their presence have a real place in the evangelical church world of today. However, as I have previously pointed out, the real question is whether or not their existence is supported by scripture and then what are the real motives behind the start of one. As we close out this series tonight, I will be the first one to admit that I don’t have all the answers but I certainly have my opinions as everyone else does. But I endeavor to base my opinions on what the Word of God says because it is the authority.
In last week’s post I listed a few potential motives that could be involved in the rapid growth of these churches. And I use the term “church” rather loosely in this case because a believe it lacks several things that meet New Testament criteria. From the information I have gathered, there is no resident pastor for the local congregation and there are no serving deacons/elders that have been selected by the local congregation just to name a couple of concerns. It doesn’t appear that to me that there is an avenue for the believers to use their God-given spiritual gifts to edify the church body. I do not know how tithes and offerings are handled and who is accountable for the stewardship of them. I don’t know how systematic group bible study is conducted and how discipleship of new believers is undertaken. So I am rather skeptical about the bible based validity of these organizations and the motives for their being established.
I will certainly admit that I am very old-fashioned in my ideas and convictions regarding the structure and purpose of the local church. I believe local evangelism is number one, outreach to the rest of the world with the gospel through missions is next, and the necessity and criticality of the spiritual growth of believers through fellowship and bible study is essential. I will also admit that the dramatic growth in communications technology has brought to the table some new ways to conduct business but I’m not sure it is all that useful in the church world for anything but sharing the gospel. And even then it will never take the place of face-to-face interaction and one-on-one witnessing. So, for me, I am so thankful that I have a wonderful church family that comes along beside me to bear my burdens but also hold me accountable for the way I live my life.
In closing, I would like to point out that as we look at God’s Word there are things that seem to lend themselves to a different interpretation and/or formation of differing opinions by folks but we need to be careful that we don’t take something that in the great scheme of things is nonessential and try to build a theology on it. We certainly need to stand firm on the essentials of correct theology and make no apologies for it. But sound theology is not based on opinion but on the authority of God’s Word.
Well, I warned you that this would be an interesting series and I think it has proved to be such. Most of the time, discussing something like this leads to more questions than answers. There is one thing is for sure; there is coming a day when everything will be revealed and answers to questions we have had will be available. However, I doubt we will care about many of those answers because we will be so caught up in the presence of Jesus that those questions won’t matter. Can I get an amen?