Ed Young's new Columbia satellite is actually an acquisition of an existing church (Friend Church) that is joining Ed Young's system of churches. Ed did the same thing in Miami last month, acquiring a former hispanic baptist in Midtown Miami. These acquisitions are a perfect business strategy for Ed: each of these new churches will be a place where he can sell his books and sermons, and where revenue can be brought back to the mother church.
Seeing Ed Young expand his church brand into South Carolina should not come as a surprise, given that Perry Noble has seen explosive growth with his satellites with revenue in excess of $25 million a year. There are plenty of peeps in South Carolina ready to join mega churches,and who are gullible enough to obey Noble's and Young's abusive tithing sermons (for sampling, click here, here, here, here, here, and here)
The continued expansion of mega churches using satellites and church acquisitions is further proof that modern evangelicalism is about mega church personalities who are seeking to build their personal and church brands by expanding into areas already saturated with churches to tap into wealthy markets.
This reminds me of this quote by SBC pastor Bart Barber that I featured on my blog last year:
"I predict that you won't soon see the following multi-campus sites opening: Fellowship Church Wilmer-Hutchins Campus, Saddleback Watts Campus, NorthPoint Community Church Bankhead Campus, or Second Baptist Houston Third-Ward Campus. The multi-site movement and the preponderance of domestic SBC church planting is focused like a laser upon those areas where people with lots of money live in church-friendly cultures—places where it is easy to fill a church with rich people." Bart Barber, Pastor FBC Farmersville (TX)Bart is right on the money; Ed Young is a Southern Baptist, and he is expanding into areas where he can get new church members who have loads of money who just might be willing to give Ed their checking account numbers.
Recently, Pastor Tom Messer of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville announced the church's plans to open a new satellite church in affluent St. John's county, just south of Jacksonville. Messer told his congregation how much it would cost, who would pay for it, and how the initial investment will yield positive dividends.
Said Tom Messer in Trinity's evening service on September 16, 2012:
"Look, its going to take us probably $150,000 in a budget and $150,000 in capital investment to start a South Campus. About $300,000. You say 'where is that money going to come from?' You. You say 'Really? We're going to give it to all those people down there in St. John's county?' Yes! You say 'Will they ever give it back?' Sure. Absolutely. They're going to invest it in YOUR rescue mission, they're going to invest it in YOUR college...". Pastor Tom Messer, 9/16/12
That quote is very telling, and gives us a glimpse into how pastors view satellites! The satellite church members are viewed as people that can give money that will come back to the mother church to the benefit of the church members!
That is the modern model of mega church growth. Potential new church members are viewed as a market to be tapped. Potential church members are viewed as "giving units" who can begin generating positive cash flow to the mother church. Starting new, autonomous churches doesn't generate cash flow for the mother church, doesn't help hire new staff, or provide the needed revenue to justify an increase in the pastor's salary and expense budget.
It will be interesting to watch the battle of Perry Noble and Ed Young in Columbia. Reminds me of this video, where Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon quarrel over who has the tightest pants in the land.