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US Megachurches Report Out

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research has published an interesting report: Megachurches Today 2005. The data, which is concerned exclusively with US megachurches, claims to have exploded a number of “myths” about the phenomenon, and charts a “shocking” growth rate. Some salient findings:

At latest count, there are 1,210 Protestant churches in the United States with weekly attendance over 2,000, nearly double the number that existed 5 years ago…The four states with the greatest concentrations of megachurches are California (14%), Texas (13%), Florida (7%) and Georgia (6%).

…When asked to describe the theological identity of the congregation, the majority of churches chose Evangelical (56%). This was followed by 16% who claimed Pentecostal (8%) or Charismatic (8%). Seven percent chose “moderate” and that many also chose “seeker.” “Other” designations (7%) traditional (5%) and Fundamentalist (2%) accounted for the rest.

Compared to the study of 5 years ago, this new data indicated considerably more churches choosing an evangelical label, while fewer claim the Pentecostal, charismatic and moderate theological designation.

…Only 16% of churches claimed they partnered with other churches in political involvement activities in the past 5 years and three quarters of churches (76%) say they have never done this.

…Megachurches are well known for offering a wide variety of activities and ministry programs. Our previous study asked the types of programs the megachurches are engaged in and at what rates. This survey, however, asked which of these programs were “key activities” for the congregation. As would be expected religious activities were most highly rated as key activities. Activities such as study and discussion groups (79%), religious education (71%), and prayer and faith sharing groups (66%) scored the highest percentages as key functions within megachurches. Contrary to popular ideas about megachurches being solely concerned with fundraising, this activity garnered the lowest score on the list.

Read the whole thing. The survey from 2000 can be seen here.

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