(Photo: Passion 2013 Conferences)
A new report by Leadership Network titled "The Economic Outlook of Very Large Churches" has projected some positive statistics concerning the growth of evangelical churches, particularly megachurches, across America.
"Among evangelical churches, overall attendance is up. Further, looking at growth by categories of church size, the majority of megachurches are growing as this report indicates," Warren Bird, Ph.D., director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development at the Leadership Network, shared with The Christian Post in an email on Friday.
According to the report, the recession that hit America in 2008 did not slow the growth of most megachurches. In fact, the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, will complete the largest church building campaign in modern American history when it opens its new $130 million building on Easter Sunday, March 31.
Close to 74 percent of megachurches project an increase in salaries this year, and will have the means to employ more staff members.
"Much of the reported increase in megachurch finances are because so many of those churches are growing – more people generally means more financial givers," Bird, who composed the report, shared with CP.
"The continual challenge for any growing church, megachurches included, is to grow by reaching people who have dropped out of church or never connected with church – rather than merely reshuffling the saints from one church to another."
Megachurches have been a rising phenomenon in America. Today, the country hosts roughly 1,600 megachurches, and well over half of the U.S. population lives within a reasonable distance of one. Bird said that this widespread availability of megachurches is something of a novelty in the last decade.
"Nationwide, almost 1 in 10 Protestants who went to church last weekend attended a megachurch," Bird noted. He explained, however, that the rise of megachurches does not mean that smaller, more local churches are in danger of dying out.
"In my view, this country needs churches of all sizes, and more healthy, vital churches of
every size," the director of research said.
Other notable statistics found in the report showed that over 70 percent of megachurches marked an increase of donations collected during worship in 2012 compared to 2011, while as much as 18 percent reported an increase of over 10 percent in charitable giving.
The findings of the report were based on research into 729 churches. A megachurch was defined as a ministry that has more than 2,000 members in its congregation.