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Megachurches Continue To Grow

Article:
(This archived article was published in 2013.  More recent data is sound in the articles section of our web site). Megachurches continue to be a bright spot for growth in the religious community. While overall church attendance for all Protestant churches has been in a slow state of decline, megachurches continue to grow. Among all Protestant churches in North America about 80% have had their census plateau or are in a state of decline. Only 20% of these churches are in a state of growth. When looking at megachurches, however, growth has continued at an annual rate of about 8% per year from 2010 to 2012 according to the 2012 Large Church Economic Outlook Report by the Leadership Network. This continues a trend observed by the Hartford Institute which reported similar growth rates from 2005 to 2010. Of the megachurches surveyed, 77% reported attendance growth while only 23% reported census declines or being at a plateau. Approximately 56 million Americans worship in a Protestant church. A little over 10% of those, or 6 million attendees were part of a megachurch. How long megachurches can continue to grow at this pace is difficult to know. The leader of the church appears to be the prime factor. A Hartford Institute study, 2011 Profile of Large Attendance Churches in the U.S., reported that 79% of these churches' most dramatic growth occurred during the tenure of the current senior pastor. Demographics are another key factor. While megachurches are found across the country, they tend to be concentrated more heavily in the southern and far western regions of the country. These are also the areas of highest population growth. It has long been known that one of the key predictors affecting church growth in any area is whether census data indicates the population for that area is going up or down. Additionally, larger churches are increasingly likely to have multiple campuses. In 2011 about 46% of large churches were holding services in multiple locations while another 20% of megachurches were considering them.

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