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 >>
The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board will focus part of its efforts on planting churches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with the aim of reaching nearly six million people.
In order to implement its plan, organizers are recruiting Southern Baptist churches to partner and commit to the vision of planting and multiplying churches over the next five years.
"We're focusing on D.C. because the Gospel is declining as D.C. grows in size and influence, so we want to provide a growing Gospel witness," Clint Clifton, city coordinator for the Send North America: D.C., told The Christian Post. 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 143-year-old historic Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia recently held its final service after leaving its worship site to make way for the new Atlanta Falcons NFL stadium, slated to open at the start of the 2017 professional football season.
Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta's first autonomous black Baptist congregation, is being demolished to make way for the city's new $1.3 billion stadium. The city of Atlanta and the NFL contributed funds for buying out the church property, ultimately settling on a payment of $19.5 million that the church agreed upon by vote last year.
At their final worship service this past Sunday, the Rev. William Guy spoke of the church's "transitioning" phase and about how change in life is inevitable. "This is not a pity party, and I'm not going to make it one," Guy reportedly told his congregation, according to CL Atlanta. more >>
Pastor Leonce Crump chose over three years ago to launch Renovation Church in Atlanta on the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Why? Because the dream of racial equality and brotherhood King spoke about 50 years prior had yet to be fully realized, even in a city that was a bedrock of the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement in Atlanta started long before King linked arms with other locals to march through town demand justice. Organized acts of resistance by African Americans against segregation, economic inequity, and racial violence in Atlanta go back to the late 19th century.
But it is King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech that reminds Americans every year that there is still work to be done in society, and even in our churches, when it comes to celebrating diversity and living in true brotherhood. more >>
A report released by the Southern Baptist Commission this week suggests that the country's largest denomination outside of the Roman Catholic Church is struggling to bring in new members from the Millennials and younger age group demographic.
According to the Pastors' Task Force on SBC Evangelistic Impact & Declining Baptisms, 25 percent of Southern Baptist churches baptized no new members in 2012, while 60 percent reported no baptisms for youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Also indicative of the denomination's struggle to attract Millennials were the 80 percent of churches which reported baptizing one or zero adults between 18 and 29.
Ed Stetzer, the President of the Southern Baptist-linked Lifeway Research, who worked on the team headed by Al Gilbert, the Vice President of Evangelism at the North American Mission Board which created the report, suggested the denomination had not focused enough on intentionally reaching non-Christians. more >>