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NorthRidge megachurch Plymouth, Michigan

A megachurch is a Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance.[1][2] [3]

In 2010, the Hartford Institute's database listed more than 1,300 such Protestant churches in the United States; according to that data, approximately 50 churches on the list had average attendance exceeding 10,000, with the highest recorded at 47,000 in average attendance.[4] On one weekend in November 2015, around one in ten Protestant churchgoers in the US, or about 5 million people, attended service in a megachurch.[5] While 3,000 individual Catholic parishes have 2,000 or more attendants for an average Sunday Mass, these Catholic churches are not seen as part of the megachurch movement, because–by definition–megachurches are a part of Protestantism.[6]

Globally, these large congregations are a significant development in Protestant or Evangelical Christianity.[7] In the United States, the phenomenon has more than quadrupled in the past two decades.[8] It has since spread worldwide. In 2007, five of the ten largest Protestant churches were in South Korea.[9] The largest megachurch in the United States is Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas with more than 40,000 members every weekend and the current largest megachurch in the world is South Korea's Yoido Full Gospel Church, an Assemblies of God church, with more than 830,000 members as of 2007.[9][10]


Lakewood Church meets in a former sports arena with seating for 16,000

The origins of the megachurch movement, with a large number of local congregants who return on a weekly basis can be traced to the 1950s.[11] There were large churches earlier in history, but they were considerably rarer. Examples include Charles Spurgeon's Baptist Metropolitan Tabernacle in London which attracted 5,000 weekly for years in the late 19th century, and religious broadcaster Aimee Semple McPherson's Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, which was similarly large.[12]


See also: McChurch

Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton has claimed that megachurches focus on personal morality issues while ignoring what he considers social justice issues.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ USA Churches : Church Sizes Retrieved 2011-02-05
  2. ^ Biard, Julia (2006-02-23). "The good and bad of religion-lite". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-11-05. 
  3. ^ Bryan S. Turner, The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, John Wiley & Sons, USA, 2010, p. 251
  4. ^ "Hartford Institute for Religion Research, database of Megachurches". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  5. ^ "The megachurch boom rolls on, but big concerns are rising too". Religion News Service. 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  6. ^ "Megachurch Definition". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  7. ^ Anne C. Loveland, Otis B. Wheeler, From Meetinghouse to Megachurch: A Material and Cultural History, University of Missouri Press, USA, 2003, p. 3
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "O come all ye faithful". Special Report on Religion and Public Life. The Economist. 2007-11-03. p. 6. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  10. ^ In Pictures: America's 10 Biggest Megachurches, Forbes.
  11. ^ "Exploring the Megachurch Phenomena: Their characteristics and cultural context". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  12. ^ National Historic Landmarks Program, Angelus Temple
  13. ^ "Black Leaders Blast Megachurches, Say They Ignore Social Justice". Associated Press. 2005-12-06. Retrieved 2006-11-05.