2013 Year-End Status of Megachurches

Warren Bird offers interesting statistics on megachurches:

Big churches, for right or wrong, get a disproportionate amount of media attention. This happens especially Christmas and Easter, and in year-end tallies. Below I profile the latest megachurch statistics.

Keep in mind that the average church globally numbers fewer than 100 in worship. Across the world, there are almost 5 million Christian congregations; the Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s Status for Global Mission – 2013 (line 42) puts the number at 4,629,000. In some countries, especially those where Christianity is all but illegal, these gatherings of Christians are almost exclusively house churches in form. In fact, today 5.1 billion people today live in countries with high or very-high religious restrictions or hostilities, according to Pew Research Center. Thus for better or for worse, only in some countries are large public churches free to develop.

Megachurches – those Protestant congregations averaging 2,000 or more in weekly worship attendance, adults and children, all physical campuses – exist in at least 48 countries. Many nations, even giant ones like India, have received minimal research in terms of how churches are growing and multiplying. I look forward to the day when churches worldwide, including larger churches, receive equal study and attention. For now, megachurches in North America have been researched more than those in other countries, so here’s what we know about very large churches in the United States:

Scope and Size of U.S. Megachurches

  • 5 million – Number of people who worshipped in a U.S. megachurch last weekend (if it was a regular weekend, with Christmas and Easter being much higher).
  • 1,650 – Current number of megachurches in the United States, according to church lists compiled by Leadership Network.
  • 0.5% – While almost 10% of Protestant churchgoers attend a megachurch, these churches represent only about half of one percent of the roughly 320,000 Protestant churches that exist in the United States. For more breakdown by size, see these Hartford Institute for Religion Research FAQs.

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