Megachurches Just Fine Amid Recession
Most megachurches see growing attendance and budgets in recession.

In case you needed more evidence that Americans love all things BIG, Leadership Network has released a new report: North American Megachurches Are Holding Steady During the "Great Recession"

According to the study, megachurches are continuing to see attendance and giving rise even during the recession. (For those of you leading small congregations, insert salt into your wounds now.) And it appears the bigger your church is the more likely you are to see these increases. In the current economic environment churches are falling prey to Darwinism's survival of the fittest...or at least the survival of the biggest.

Highlights from the survey after the jump...

The survey defines a megachurch as weekly attendance of 2,000 or more.

81 percent of megachurches have increased attendance in 2010

67 percent increased their budgets

64 percent of megachurches gave their staffs a pay increase

4 percent cut salaries in 2010

71 percent of megachurch leaders said the economy was having "no impact" or a "slightly negative" impact on the church.

Check out the full survey at Leadership Network's website.

November 22, 2010

Displaying 1–10 of 13 comments


December 02, 2010  9:17am

I've been on staff/pastor at: -a baby boomer mega church -a 150 person rural church -a cutting edge medium sized Gen X church -a super conservative 150 person suburban church -a Gen X mega church (currently) -Shepherding house churches around my city and the globe (currently) I can say that all of these communities have made huge impacts in some areas and are huge failures in others. We need all of these models of church to reach people...because guess what...people are different. So stop bickering and pointing fingers and do church the way God put it on your heart and be thankful for the beautiful diversity we have so that we can reach many more people.

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November 29, 2010  2:29pm

I am a member and ardent advocate of small, distributed churches. That said, here's a question: If smaller churches are supposed to be effective at discipling people into mature faith, why are those people leaving for the cheap thrill of the megachurch show? Maybe we should be looking at the plank in our own eye.

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November 27, 2010  7:42am

There sure are a lot of cynics out here in commentary land. I have been on staff at a mega church in the middle of our country for many years and I am now attending another mega church an hour away as my husband and I prepare to do church planting in a foreign country. We have visited many mega churches as we've been raising our funds to get to the field. Every one we've seen are working hard to reach the homeless, feed them, clothe them, reach the lost for the Savior and disciple those in their churches. Some of these large churches are making tough decisions regarding finances as giving ebbs and flows. But I'm seeing faithful men and women. There are always those who are coasting and receiving the blessings of the hard workers. The church is us - those who give and those who receive. If we are honest we all experience both of those times during some of our lives. Thank goodness we have each other - whether in a large building or small.

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November 25, 2010  1:58pm

Nationwide, Sunday attendance isn't keeping up with population growth, so while there may be isolated instances of Kingdom growth, the evidence suggests that mega churches are drawing already-Christians from other, presumably smaller, churches. One also has to presume the reason for this is that the large mega churches offeer better and more services to consumer-minded Christians, like better music, children's services. Conversely, the growth of house/simple churches is bucking this trend/ They also draw from traditional churches but also are more likely to draw new believers and disaffected believers who have given up on church, according to research by Ed Stetzer, George Barna and others.

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fred sanders

November 24, 2010  2:36pm

The so-called mega-churches are in reality nothing more than social club for people to meet and make a show of being in "church".They are not "Christian" in any form or fashion.They call themselves Christians but are only so in name.

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nate j

November 23, 2010  10:07am

if this is all sideways growth, what should we do? Tell them to go back to their old church? Set a cap number that beyond that we will start planting? I am curious to hear ideas?

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November 23, 2010  12:55am

American believers with a faith that has been institutionalized will mostly be fickle and shallow in their spiritual relationships. They have almost no idea of the significance of God making them "members of one another" and what this means in terms of intimacy, mutuality, and spiritual reproductivity with each other. They are focused on spectating in what they call worship, casualness in what they call service, and getting some benefits back for whatever they might put in the plate. LJ knows the stats - institutionalized believers consume 76% of their giving to buy church goodies that benefit mostly themselves. Small institutional and mega-institutional are both equally bad on this reality. It's the same system. One just has more bling. (I just got a tour of what looked like a million dollar kitchen in a church to produce a weekly meal for around 300 saints that stick around out of maybe 2000 who attend. The sermon that day was about the "hole in the gospel". The preacher was surrounded by the hole in the gospel and did not see it.) Are these saints following Jesus or traditions of men?

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November 22, 2010  11:11pm

Part of me wonders whether we aren't a little territorial. I'm not a fan of many megachurches, and i'm not sure that they are necessarily the optimal expression of church, however, is anything really lost if every Christian from a small church is still a follower of Jesus even when that church closes it's doors?

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November 22, 2010  6:18pm

Sadly, instead of rejoicing that some churches are doing well, we need use disparaging language toward them. So much for the kingdom. I pastor a small church and the few mega churches around me are growing and several of the folks have come from my church. Guess what? Praise God that there are great churches that people we reach can end up in as to not going anywhere at all.

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November 22, 2010  11:12am

My average size (100 on Sunday morning) mainline church in the midwest has held steady in 2010 - giving should finish the year nearly identical to 2009, and some key costs have gone down. 2011 pledges look strong. Are the average congregations really struggling as much as people might assume? Is there really a big difference between mega and average in this category? Maybe the full report compares the figures - I admit I have not read the report.

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