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NorthRidge megachurch Plymouth, Michigan

A megachurch is an American term for a church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance.[1][2] The Hartford Institute's database lists more than 1,300 such Protestant churches in the United States; according to that data, approximately 50 churches on the list have average attendance exceeding 10,000, with the highest recorded at 47,000 in average attendance.[3] While 3,000 individual Catholic parishes (churches) have 2,000 or more attendants for an average Sunday Mass, these churches are not seen as part of the megachurch movement.[4]

Globally, these large congregations are a significant development in Protestant Christianity. In the United States, the phenomenon has more than quadrupled in the past two decades.[5] It has since spread worldwide. In 2007, five of the ten largest Protestant churches were in South Korea.[6] 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.[6][7]


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.[8] 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.[9]

Largest megachurches[edit]

Average weekly attendances are shown in parentheses:

  • Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, South Korea (253,000)
  • Jotabeche Methodist P. Church, Santiago, Chile (150,000)
  • Calvary Temple, Hyderabad, India (120,000)
  • Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, Nigeria (120,000)
  • Elim Church, San Salvador, El Salvador (117,000)
  • Nambu Full Gospel, Seoul, South Korea (110,000)
  • AOG Grace and Truth, Kyanggi-do, South Korea (105,000)
  • Kum Ran Methodist, Seoul, South Korea (80,000)
  • Vision de Futuro, Santa Fe, Argentina (70,000)
  • Ondas del Luz, Buenos Aires, Argentina (70,000)
  • Victory Christian Fellowship, Philippines (110,000)
  • Christ's Commission Fellowship (60,000)
  • Young Nak Presbyterian Church, South Korea (60,000)
  • Winners Chapel, Ota, Nigeria (50,000)
  • Soong Eui Methodist, Inchon, South Korea (47,000)
  • Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas (45,000)


See also: McChurch

The majority of North American churchgoers attend small churches of fewer than 200 members.[10]

Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton has claimed that such churches focus on personal morality issues while ignoring social justice.[11]

Some megachurches, such as the Christian Open Door, are sometimes criticized by former members and anti-cult associations for an alleged use of cultic practices.[12][need quotation to verify]

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. ^ "Hartford Institute for Religion Research, database of Megachurches". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  4. ^ "Megachurch Definition". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ In Pictures: America's 10 Biggest Megachurches, Forbes.
  8. ^ "Exploring the Megachurch Phenomena: Their characteristics and cultural context". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  9. ^ National Historic Landmarks Program, Angelus Temple
  10. ^ "National Congregations Study, Cumulative Dataset (1998 and 2006-2007)". Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  11. ^ "Black Leaders Blast Megachurches, Say They Ignore Social Justice". Associated Press. 2005-12-06. Retrieved 2006-11-05. 
  12. ^ Naegelen, Lucien (21 April 1996). "Le supermarché de Dieu" (PDF). Alsace (in French). Retrieved 14 August 2009.