Megachurch

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Megachurches are predominantly American, Protestant church congregations that share a number of properties including high weekly attendance (above 2,000), provide an active array of activities and ministries for congregants, and are often led by a charismatic minister. The largest of the megachurches has a weekly attendance of 35,000 people; worship at megachurches is often done in large auditoriums in modern, purpose-built sites, rather than in more traditional church buildings. Sometimes such worship is accompanied by multimedia presentations: highly-produced video and music tied in with lights, large monitors and amplification systems.

Sociology and statistics

According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research,[1] 5 million Americans attend megachurches every week, and congregants tend to be young (the 25-44 age bracket is the largest segment of megachurch worshippers, and those 65 or older are not widely represented at megachurches; the average age of a megachurch attendee is 40 compared to the average of 50 for all churches taken together) and single adults, and almost a quarter of attendees are "unchurched" - they identify as Christian but have not attended church for a considerable time before attending the megachurch. Megachurch attendees tend to be better educated, with 52% having a college degree compared to 41% for churchgoers. Those who attend megachurches attend slightly less often than the average for all churches, and give less money to the church.

Those attending megachurches report "much spiritual growth", and many megachurch attendees invite others to attend their church. 82% of those attending megachurches initially attended the church because of personal recommendation by friends, family members or co-workers, although many younger worshippers report finding out about the church through the Internet.

While the majority of megachurches are affiliated to denominations, a substantial minority are nondenominational. Of the denominationally affiliated churches, most are affiliated with the Southern Baptist church, and then to Baptist churches more generally. Other denominational affiliations include the Assemblies of God, the United Methodist Church and Calvary Chapel. Denominational affiliation plays a less significant role for megachurches than it does with smaller churches: for many megachurches, inter-denominational networks, fellowships and associations has as much of a role or more as their denominational tradition. A number of megachurches have also left their denominations and become independent.[2]

References

  1. Hartford Institute for Religious Research, Not Who You Think They Are: A Profile of the People Who Attend America's Megachurches, 2009.
  2. Scott Thumma, Adair Lummis, Growing Up and Leaving Home: Megachurches that depart denominations, Hartford Institute for Religious Research.