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 >>
NEW YORK — Joel Osteen invited more than a dozen area pastors, such as A.R. Bernard, Carl Lentz and Hezekiah Walker, to join him on stage to declare God's blessings over the thousands in attendance this weekend at his "America's Night of Hope" event at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
"You know, we believe it makes a difference to speak words of faith and speak words of victory, so I'll ask some of the great pastors of the New York area to join me tonight…" Osteen explained to a cheering audience. "I've asked them to take a moment to just make a declaration by faith over our schools, over our government, over our firefighters, our police force, teachers, nurses, everything about the city, and not only that but about your life as well."
Each minister then took the mic for a minute or two and stated their declaration before handing it off to the next pastor. The leaders represent congregations from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, with all but one of them members of Lakewood Church's Champions Network, a national network that helps Christians find churches in their area (read about the network here). Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz, currently not listed in the Champions Network, was included in the declaration lineup Saturday night, although his name did not appear in the printed program. more >>
NEW YORK — Victoria Osteen, one-half of the dynamic duo in charge of America's fastest growing megachurch, was far from her Houston, Texas, base on Thursday when she, along with volunteers from Lakewood Church and its service-oriented Generation Hope Project, made an appearance at the Bronx Zoo. She was there, amid a brief period of rain, to visit with about 250 local school children, some of whom were in hysterics when they spotted the petite blond otherwise known as Mrs. Joel Osteen.
Amid squeals of "Victoria!" and whispered observations of "she's so pretty," Mrs. Osteen greeted the Generation Hope Project volunteers manning check-in tables, shook hands with Wildlife Conservation Society officials (in charge of New York City's five zoos), and spent a few minutes with local media, while Lakewood's in-house crew captured it all on film.
However, Osteen spent most of her time under a canopy not far from the main entrance embracing and sharing laughs with the kids, a mixed bunch of predominantly teens and pre-teens, some of whom were clad in their school uniforms. more >>
A former Southern Baptist megachurch in Tennessee once rocked by scandal has sold one of its campuses to a Roman Catholic diocese for $12.5 million.
The Fellowship at Two Rivers, formerly known as Two Rivers Baptist Church, has sold the campus near the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center to the Catholic Diocese of Nashville.
Rick Musacchio, director of Communications for the Diocese of Nashville, directed The Christian Post to a statement by Bishop David Choby on the matter. more >>
Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz commented in a recently aired CNN feature on his megachurch why he refuses to publicly express his position on homosexuality by noting that Jesus, who "was in the thick of an era where homosexuality … was wildly prevalent," did not address the issue "on the record in front of people."
Lentz made the remark when CNN reporter Poppy Harlow noted in an interview with the pastor and his wife, Laura Lentz, "Every article I've read about you guys says you decline to discuss gay marriage."
"Yes, it's a misquote because I do discuss it, just not the way people want me to," said Lentz. "When it comes to homosexuality, I refuse to let another human being or a media moment dictate how we approach it. Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent. And I'm still waiting for someone to show me the quote were Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won't find it because he never did." more >>
Pastor Joel Osteen, who already reaches millions around the globe via his weekly television and radio broadcasts, will have access to millions more when his new program, "Joel Osteen Radio" debuts on SiriusXM this fall.
SiriusXM, identified as "the world's largest radio broadcaster measured by revenue," announced in a press release Monday its development of a new exclusive radio channel headlined by Osteen.
"Joel Osteen Radio" will broadcast the Lakewood Church pastor and bestselling author's inspirational messages to SiriusXM's 25.8 million subscribers. Both Joel and Victoria Osteen will host weekly call-in shows, while Sunday sermons from Lakewood also will be added to the lineup. more >>