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States with most Megachurch Attenders


Megachurches are congregations with very large regular attendance, typically created by a successful, charismatic preacher. Different writers have used different minimum sizes for megachurches, usually from 1,000 to 3,000. Scott Thumma defined megachurches as congregations having a "consistent weekly attendance of at least 2,000 persons."

Megachurches are either completely independent, semi-independent or part of a larger denomination. One of the largest chains of megachurches is the controversial Calvary Chapel. The International Church of Christ and the Vineyard Chapels are two other major megachurch-oriented denominations.

Top 10 U.S. States with Highest Proportion of
Megachurch Members, 2001

StateMegachurch
Attendance
Percent
of State Pop.
Washington, D.C.15,6522.74%
Georgia, USA130,4941.59%
Oklahoma44,9121.30%
Texas267,8181.28%
Tennessee69,3191.22%
Colorado48,6131.13%
Arizona57,2801.12%
California364,6121.08%
Minnesota46,0510.94%
Oregon30,7340.90%

Source: Vaughn, John N. Church Growth Today. www.megachurches.net (megachurch statistics); state population statistics: U.S. Census 2000

Top 10 U.S. States with
Most Megachurch Members, 2001

StateMegachurch
Attendance
Percent
of State Pop.
California364,6121.08%
Texas267,8181.28%
Georgia, USA130,4941.59%
Florida112,9130.71%
Illinois81,8020.66%
Tennessee69,3191.22%
Arizona57,2801.12%
Michigan56,5010.57%
Colorado48,6131.13%
Minnesota46,0510.94%

Source: Vaughn, John N. Church Growth Today. www.megachurches.net (megachurch statistics); state population statistics: U.S. Census 2000



Comments

The largest megachurch in the world is, of course, the Yoida Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea. In the United States, the largest megachurches on the Scott Thumma list are the Willow Creek Community Church of Chicago (14,650) and the independent First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (12,000).

Some nationally well-known personalities who lead megachurch congregations are Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Jack Hyles, Oral Roberts, and James Copeland.




"Non-denominational" Churches

"Megachurch" and "non-denominational" are completely separate terms. Churches are classified as "megachurches" strictly based on the size of a congregation. Many are independent, especially the largest ones. Many are not. Many of the independent churches refer to themselves as "non-denominational" Christian churches. A "non-denominational church" may be a congregation of any size, from a small group that meets in a private home to a large megachurch.

Here is what one Catholic author wrote about "non-denominational" churches. Adherents.com does not necessarily agree with this assessment, but feels it provides an instructive viewpoint:

Non-Denominational. In my opinion, there is no such thing. All such groups constitute their own denomination. I suspect this is how the UN comes up with 27,000(+) groups.

Having apparently grown frustrated with all of the denominational conflicts, they seem to want everyone to give up their current beliefs...and accept theirs. They seem to represent Christianity at its lowest common denominator, with their particular view depending much upon their pastor. They can be small groups or large mega-Churches.

They appear to reject both Catholicism and historic Protestantism. Consequently, they might be termed a second Reformation. They can be some of the most anti-Catholic.

[Source: "Examining Protestantism: Denominations" by Stephen P. Haws (http://www.shasta.com/sphaws/denominations.htm). This link no longer works, but the statement was primarily based on Thoughts on Catholicism by Rev. John Regan.]

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Webpage created 22 August 1999. Last modified 3 April 2001.