The number of very large churches continues to increase, as our graphic dramatically illustrates. And within that group, the biggest churches continue to get bigger. In the past I've written about everything from sanctuary sizes (very few new ones over 5,000) to the first megachurch (start with Pentecost when "about 3,000" were converted, per Acts 2:41) to global megachurches (Korea and Nigeria are currently leading).
But what about the people who attend really big churches? Fellow researcher Scott Thumma and I surveyed some 25,000 of them, with some fascinating discoveries:Nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less. Many attenders come from other churches, but nearly a quarter haven't been in any church for a long time before coming to a megachurch. New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches). What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church's reputation, in that order. These same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs. Attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met. Attenders can craft unique, customized spiritual experiences through the multitude of ministry choices and diverse avenues for involvement that megachurches offer. In many ways, large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ.
For more interesting facts about people who attend megachurches, download the free report Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America's Megachurches. more >>
BALTIMORE – Southern Baptists say that unlike other church bodies, their denomination will not waver on its stance on gay marriage or be harmed by debate on the issue.
In a panel discussion Tuesday at the Southern Baptist Convention's two-day annual meeting, a group of Southern Baptist leaders, including Dr. Albert Mohler, stated that the SBC should maintain their opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post that the "Southern Baptist Convention has this clearly as a matter of conviction; it was put into our confession of faith as revised in just the year 2000." more >>
An annual Holy Spirit-centered interdenominational movement called Empowered21 was underway this week in Georgia and being hosted by an Assemblies of God leader who believes that young people are hungry for the supernatural, but have been seeking it in the wrong places.
Alton Garrison serves as the assistant general superintendent of The General Council of the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination that counts more than 66,000,000 adherents worldwide with about three million of them living in the United States, based on 2012 statistics. He, along with pastors Greg Surratt and Rich Wilkerson, are co-hosts of this year's Empowered21 U.S.A. Congress.
Empowermed21's stated purpose is to "unite the global Spirit-filled movement together intergenerationally for the purpose of seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 21st century." The movement's vision "is that every person on Earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033." more >>
WASHINGTON – Even as the Communist Chinese government recently cracked down on Christian communities, Christianity continues to grow rapidly in the People's Republic.
This was the observation noted by a panel – titled "Christianity in China: A Force for Change?" –sponsored by the Brooking s Institution on Tuesday. Experts discussed the growth of Christianity, especially in the years since 1989, after the infamous crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square.
Carsten Vala, assistant professor at the Political Science Department of Loyola University Maryland and one of the panelists, told The Christian Post how many Chinese Christians view recent actions against them. more >>
The Presbyterian Church (USA) continued its years-long trend of losing congregations and members in 2013, according to statistics released by the mainline Protestant denomination last week.
According to the data compiled by the PCUSA's Office of the General Assembly, by the end of 2013 membership was approximately 1.76 million, compared to approximately 1.84 million by the end of 2012.
Additionally, the number of PCUSA congregations decreased during 2013. There were 10,038 churches in 2013, versus 10,262 in 2012. more >>
A newly formed conservative Presbyterian group plans to hold a conference in Dallas where about 1,200 people are expected to attend the event in August.
Formed in early 2012, the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians hope to bring together Presbyterians who are "hearing and answering God's call to a new way of being church," reads the registration page for the gathering.
Cosponsored by the theologically conservative Fellowship of Presbyterians, the national gathering is scheduled to take place at the InterContinental Hotel off Dallas Parkway August 18-20. more >>