Monday, August 01, 2005

More Megachurches?

From FOTF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing (7/29)

New research reveals that the number of megachurches in America may have been underreported by as much as 50 percent.

A cooperative project being undertaken by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and the Leadership Network — two organizations that have been studying megachurches for years — discovered that the actual number of churches with at least 2,000 in weekly worship is over 1,200. In the past, it was commonly assumed that the number was 850. The discrepancy was found when the two groups, each of which keeps a separate list of megachurches, compared their records and realized that there were about 350 churches that were not on both lists.

As part of an ongoing study, questionnaires are being sent to over 1,700 very large churches in order to verify the actual number of megachurches in the country. Warren Bird of Leadership Network believes that the number could be as high as 1,600.

Preliminary analysis of the data shows that:

* The 1,200 churches represent just three-tenths of one percent of all congregations.
* The megachurches account for more than four million weekly attendees, and possibly as many as eight to 12 million members.
* Megachurches are found in 45 out of 50 states.
* The states with the most megachurches are Texas with 174, California with 169, Florida with 83 and Georgia with 64.
* The greatest number of megachurches are nondenominational or Southern Baptist.

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