At the end of the post I asked several questions. I'll attempt to answer them.
They are: Why is there a disagreement between the two? What are the benefits of the church plant? What are the benefits of the satellite church? What are each churches disadvantages? What would you prefer: plant or satellite?
Before I answer these questions, I want to address Colleen's statement that whatever gets people to Christ should be used. While I do agree that each of these churches bring people to Christ is most worthy of praise, there are certainly some concerns we should have on how some people 'do' church. Also, I know that she did not mean this but there are some things that we should NOT do to get people to Christ. The image of the early Jesuit Christians converting Native Americans (South America) by way of putting a gun to their head comes to my mind. How we bring people to Christ is an important question to ask. But for now let's talk about church plants and church satellites.
First let's address Church Plants and their benefits/disadvantages. The benefits of church plants are their focus to the community. Most church plants fully embrace that they are part of a unique community and desire to bring the gospel to that community in a way which will be heard. Most church plants ask how can I bring the gospel and care for these people in a way that would fit their community. You will experience a variety of church plants, they are not the same. How one does ministry on a college campus will be vastly different to a church plant in a newly growing suburban area or even a church plant in a downtown ubran area. The message is the same but how it is communicated adapts to the community.
Certainly there are some disadvantages. Most church plants are not well funded. They are smaller and take some time to grow. They may not have all the resources as other churches. They are different. If you went to a new church plant, that is outside of your community, you will fully experience a shift. Imagine a suburbanite going to an urban church, there will be a cultural shift that may make the visitor uncomfortable.
Now what about the satellite church? The majority of satellite church look very similar to the other church they are associated with. This can be an advantage. Most satellite churches take what I like to call the Starbucks model. In all reality every Starbucks is the same. Sure the floor plans may be a little different but they are pretty much the same. This is an advantage in the aspect that if you go to a satellite church, you know what to expect. They may have the same programs, worship style, and bible studies. Another advantage of the satellite church, is the funding. Most satellite churches are funded directly by a larger church which can feed the satellite church with members.
The disadvantages of the satellite church are very similar to its advantages. Since most satellites are a 'copy' of another church, they fail to recognize the differences of the communities. Everything is the same and that can lead to placing a church in a location that is trying to reach the gospel in a way that is foreign to the community. Also this tends to create a corporation like church. The idea is about 'branding'. This allows the same branded churches to create their own denomination.
The church plant is better at effectively communicating the gospel to the community that it has been called to dwell. While the satellite often is a molded copy of another church that may or may not effectively communicate the gospel to the community. It just depends if the community is the same as the other church.
Now I know that it sounds as if church plants are good and satellites are bad. Not necessarily. I can come across several satellites that take into consideration the differences of the community. They adapt to the community. In this sense I would say that they are a hybrid between a philosophy of plants and satellites. The key is the community. Which one does the best job at proclaiming the gospel to the community. If you would like more discussion on this topic see jwinters blog on the subject.
Is there anything that I have missed? Do you agree with my conclusions?