The Covert Letter
jQuery Slider

You are here

The Explosive Growth of U.S. Megachurches, Even While Many Say Their Day is Done

The Explosive Growth of U.S. Megachurches, Even While Many Say Their Day is Done

By ED STAETZER
http://www.edstetzer.com/
THE WAY OF LIFE RESEARCH
February 19, 2013

One of the more popular series last year on the blog dealt with the question "Can Megachurches be Missional?" It was part of a continuing-- and important-- dialogue within the Christian world.

Several people have written and researched at length the trends found in megachurches. Whether it is our LifeWay Research/Outreach Magazine list of the 100 Largest Churches in America or John Vaughan's helpful research, Elmer Towns' articles for Christian Life, or what Warren Bird and Scott Thumma are researching, megachurches are of interest to many.

The fact is that many practices found in smaller churches trickle down from larger ones, but also because we are a numbers-oriented culture-- we want our church to grow, so we try to copy what the growing churches are doing.

While imitation is often the greatest form of flattery and many copy their methods, their terminology, and their programs, megachurches tend to face scrutiny-- some fair and some unfair. In the process, several unhelpful things are said about them either out of jealousy or ignorance. One piece of misinformation spread about megachurches is that they are a dying breed.

I have heard this over and over again-- that the megachurch is dying out. That people are wising up and getting into organic churches. That the mindless robots who blindly follow a the charlatan megachurch pastor have seen the light. The day of the megachurch is done.

One problem: the claims are just not true (and some of it is quite insulting to many passionate believers who attend megachurches who actually have higher levels of involvement and service according to the best research).

Facts are our friends-- and we need some here. And the fact that Christians are choosing megachurches-- and megachurches are thriving-- is not a matter of debate, it is simply a matter of math. (This is not to say that there are issues to consider, but it is helpful to get this fact straight.)

So, the number of megachurches is not declining. Recent analysis from Scott Thumma and Warren Bird show the opposite, actually. There are more megachurches every year, not less. And, they have exploded in number in the last few decades.

You are entitled to your opinion about megachurches, but not to your own facts. The fact is, they are not going away. Instead, they keep coming.

The graphic might show a slowdown in the last two years from the explosive growth (from explosive to electric?) we saw over the past decade, but Warren and I don't think so (yet). Two years does not make a trend, and the trend is quite remarkable when it comes of the number of megachurches.

For example:

The number of megachurches in America has nearly doubled during every decade over the last half century.

In 1960, there was 1 megachurch for every 7.5 million Americans. In 2010, there was one for every 200,000 Americans.

There are as many megachurches today in the greater Nashville area as there were in the entire country in 1960.

Now, I don't think that every megachurch is good-- I assure you, I think some are quite terrible and fulfill every stereotype out there. Yet, there are also some great ones, and for that I am thankful. I want to understand them more and, when possible, to encourage them on their journey.

We are actually considering some learning communities (with D.Min. credit available) for megachurch pastors who want a peer group to considering that question. More soon on that, but for now... you have the facts.

END

comments powered by Disqus
Virtueonline

Subscribe to VOL's Weekly News Digest

www.virtueonline.org/listserv.html

Setup your own foundation

to support VOL and the

charitable efforts you believe in.

TrustCounselors.org
 

All Saints' parish seeks full-time parish priest.

APA Diocese of the West

Lead young families
Orthodox, 1928 BCP

Search Committee
P.O. Box 1545
Prescott, AZ 86302

Prescott
Anglicans.org

Suburban Philadelphia
On the Mainline

Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.

210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA

christ-church-anglican.org

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice

DrinkCoffeeDoGood.com

St. Dunstan parish seeks full-time rector.

ACA Diocese of the Missouri Valley

Family-sized church
Orthodox, 1928 BCP
Anglican Missal

Karl Sharp
prank-2@centurylink.net
StDunstanAnglican.org

Go To Top