What ever happened to “Mother” and “Daughter” Churches?

More and more today we hear of “Calvary Church–West Campus,” or “Odyssey–Satellite Campus of Trinity Lutheran Church” (These are just made up by the way). I don’t know where this language is coming from (although I have my suspicions) but this is how many of our LC-MS pastors are talking today. It is annoying. It is irritating. It is downright idiotic, in my opinion. Sounds like we’re talking about Universities or something.

What ever happened to the terms “Mother Church” and “Daughter Churches”? Isn’t that what we used to call it when members from a large city Church formed a “daughter” Church? Why must we continue to borrow non-biblical, non-Churchly language from the secular world? I never cease to be amazed. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am.


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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3 Responses to What ever happened to “Mother” and “Daughter” Churches?

  1. I would surmise some of the discomfort comes as a result of the gender-specific language: the Church as feminine, the Bride of Christ; her Lord as masculine, as the Head, the Bridegroom.

    I think the new breed of “church-growth” Lutheran is ashamed at such “antiquated” uses of masculine and feminine terminology.

    “Campus” and “satellite” has a more sanitized, egalitarian, and self-important ring to it – as you say, like a business or a university.

    Of course, such abandonment of churchly language falls right into Satan’s hands and has the further advantage that if the Church is a gender-neutral entity, than the pastoral office, which stands in the stead of the Bridegroom, is emasculated as well.

    I think it’s no accident that a lot of the pastors of these kinds of churches somehow seem a little less masculine than their forbears. You would not find a guy like Dr. Korby, with his gritty Marlboro voice and cowboy boots, using terms like “satellite” and “campus” to describe the Bride of Christ.

    It’s all marketing, and what works for Coke and McDonald’s is seen as a “successful” model for “doing church.”

    You can practically hear Screwtape giggling.

  2. Chad Myers says:

    I think Rev. Beane nailed it with the ‘marketing’ comment. The Evangelicals/Baptists have been extremely successful at marketing and ‘popularism’ in the format of their worship services as well as all the ancillary services they offer. Some of it is good in that it provides a modern appeal to classic sensibilities, but some of it goes too far and becomes, as Rev. Beane said, “McDonalds”-esque.

    I’ve noticed that some of of the Catholic parishes I go to have started falling into this trap, thinking that they have to have a more modern appeal to the secular world to keep people interested. It’s more about showmanship and entertainment than Truth and Reason.

    I’m guessing that those who are using these “campus” and “satellite” terms are also pray to the temptation to “market” the Church.

    It all reminds me a lot of this video (what if Starbucks marketed like the church NOTE: this Youtube video is safe for children, but the rest of the site is not necessarily safe, so don’t click around if little ones are nearby):

  3. I think there is an actual difference. The satellite campus is not really an independent daughter church. It has the same pastors, often on a video feed on Sunday morning.

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