Lakewood Tops List of Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches

Lakewood Church in Houston is the fastest-growing U.S. church, according to Outreach Magazine's 2006 church growth study.

In 2005, Lakewood, led by Joel Osteen, gained a total of 12,000 members. The annual report listed the top 100 fastest growing churches in America, including 52 new churches and 48 returning from last year's list.

Texas was the most represented state with 19 churches featured in the top 100. Lakewood jumped from the third to the top spot this year and was followed by Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas which gained 5,018 people in the past year. New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.; Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, Ill.; and Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla., were placed in the top five, respectively. Second to Texas were California, Florida and Georgia, each having eight churches represented.

Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with bestselling author Rick Warren took a plunge down from number five to number thirty-nine. New membership gains in the past year dropped by nearly 1,500 people to 1,149. Willow Creek Community Church, the most influential church in America, according to The Church Report, rose from the 30th rank to the eighth with a gain of 2,900 in 2005. The Potter's House with Bishop T.D. Jakes was listed at number 25. The Dallas megachurch did not place in the top 100 last year.

Churches from 30 different states were represented as the fastest-growing churches in the nation this year, many of which were Southern Baptist (27). Other denominations represented were the Independent, Independent charismatic, Christian Church/Churches of Christ and Assemblies of God churches.

The report noted that 40 churches appear on both the top 100 largest and fastest-growing lists. Also, the majority of the churches were white, followed by African America, multi-ethnic and Asian (Korean).

On another note, one out of ten of the 1,000-plus U.S. megachurches are less than 10 years old.

Outreach's annual report uses self-reported data. The reports are provided by Dr. John N. Vaughan, president and founder of Church Growth Today, who specializes in research related to megachurches both domestically and globally.

For a complete list, visit