For the past decade, Leadership Network and Hartford Institute for Religion Research have been collected and releasing research data about megachurches in America. They have just released the data from their fourth such study.
Some of the more prominent findings include:
- Average growth among megachurches as a whole is at 8% over the past five years.
- Megachurches continue to draw youthful, middle class, family-oriented people as 70% of attendees are under the age of 50.
- Nearly 50% of the megachurches in America are located in the southern states (Texas to Virginia).
- A dramatic decrease occurred in the number of churches claiming a specific denominational affiliation. Over half (54%) are nondenominational, however, 70% claim to be connected to a network, fellowship, association, or denomination.
- Not surprisingly, 80% of the churches are still led by the pastor under whose tenure the most dramatic growth occurred.
- These churches continue to be regional draws as only 60% of attendees live less than 15 minutes away from the church.
- The gender balance in megachurches is closer than smaller churches (55% women, 45% men).
- On a whole, megachurches were not as affected by the recent economic downturn as media reports made it seem. While some were affected greatly, the percentage of churches reporting serious financial struggles decreased in the past five years.
These are just some of the highlights. For the full report, click here. Megachurches are fascinating and worthy of research. The research also pushes against many stereotypes and misinformation about megachurches-- facts are our friends.
I just returned from preaching this weekend at Woodlands Church (pictured here). I saw much of this research reflected there-- more on that later.
In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts below.