Church news: Pastors travel to satellite sites to save more souls and money

The Rev. Solomon Kinloch Jr. rises early every Sunday. He needs to.

The senior pastor of Triumph Church is at its branch on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit in time for an 8 a.m. service. Then it’s off to a branch in Canton for a 9:30 a.m. service, north to a former theater in Southfield for one at 10:45 a.m., back to East Grand Boulevard for the 11:45 a.m., before wrapping up in Southfield at 12:45 p.m.

By midday, Kinloch, 37, will have given the same sermon five times at three locations in just over five hours. That comes with being the “hardest-working pastor in America,” according to his followers.

“My body has become adjusted to it,” said Kinloch, who started preaching when he was 13. “To me, it’s a joy, not a burden.”

In all, the Detroit-based Baptist church has some 12,000 active members over five campuses. Named the third-fastest-growing congregation in the United States in 2008 by Outreach magazine, it’s expanded rapidly and turned the concept of the megachurch on its head.

The megachurch — which averages at least 2,000 weekly parishioners — has been popular since the early 1990s. But Triumph and a handful of other churches in Metro Detroit are branching off into smaller satellite congregations to keep costs down and to take their message where people live.

Like Triumph, Woodside Bible and Kensington churches offer services at multiple campuses, some owned by the nondenominational churches and others in rented buildings such as schools. And Woodside and Triumph are eyeing even more locations in coming months.

Operating churches from multiple locations may tax the staff and preachers, but leaders say they need to make worship convenient for busy people like Triumph member Jonathan Quarles.

“I go to both the Southfield and east side campuses,” said Quarles, 29, of Detroit, an employee of a defense contractor who has been a member of Triumph since 2006. “It all depends on the timing. You have no excuse (not to go to church). You can go to church that is a few miles away, to a service that is miles away.”

The logistics of operating multiple services at several branches can be dizzying, but Kinloch has it down to a science. Each Sunday service is identical, held to strict standards of uniformity from songs to anecdotes from guest speakers.

At Troy-based Kensington, church officials offer more leeway at its campuses in Lake Orion, Clinton Township and Birmingham. The church — which also has a congregation in Orlando, Fla. — recently combined its Rochester Hills and Lake Orion locations, which will share a new building in Lake Orion that is expected to open next year.

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Source: The Detroit News
By: Orlando Brandon