photo by Chris Devers. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.
photo by Chris Devers. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

This is the seventh post in a series about Asian American church models. Dr. Benjamin Shin, in a lecture for the Doctor of Ministry in Asian American Ministry at Talbot School of Theology, discusses these different models.

This seventh model is the “Satellite” model. More churches are now moving to this model as their churches are growing. In this model, it is one church, connected to one another at different sites. Pastors are shared from site to site. Services meet at the same time, often using video for messages.

If Asian Americans attend a satellite church, they often have grown up attending a Room for Rent or Duplex model, looked for greener pastures in a Hotel model, but ended up wanting a small-church feel.

Here are some advantages of the “Satellite Model”:

  • Big-church resources.
    The church has shared staff and a larger pool of shared resources, and can utilize its best preachers for multiple locations. Staff are specialized and can serve more than one campus.
  • Small-church-feel.
    Each church campus can be locally situated, smaller congregations, and thus more personal. Each location is more convenient. Because the congregations are smaller, they can more readily develop tighter community.
  • Allows for different ministry approaches in the same church.
    While the church is one, the differing campuses often develop their own subcultures.  Perhaps they have different worship styles at different locations. Or perhaps one campus is in a more urban setting than another, offering different opportunities to serve the inner-city community.

And, here are some disadvantages:

  • Requires a Paradigm Shift.
    Those churchgoers who expect the same preacher every Sunday may have to adjust their expectations. The campus pastor often ends up doing more shepherding than preaching. Especially for those who are used to Asian churches, they may feel like the senior leader is lazy by not being as involved in the lives of the people.
  • Use of Technology.
    Some people feel that the use of technology as too secular or too worldly. The preacher is only available via video and does not have the flesh-and-blood connection. Some churchgoers are turned off by the idea that they cannot approach the preacher or shake his hand after the message.
  • Lack of Unity.
    While the model points to the church being one, satellite churches often feel like they are more than one church. Campus pastors may disagree on vision and purpose. With different locations, it can be a challenge to stay on the same page.
Credit: Benjamin Shin
Credit: Benjamin Shin

Do you have experience in a “Satellite” church? Are there any advantages or disadvantages you would add?

Related Posts:

“Room for Rent”: Asian American Church Models
“Duplex”: Asian American Church Models
“Hotel”: Asian American Church Models