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A megachurch is a Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance.[1][2][3] The concept originated in the mid 19th century, continued into the mid 20th century as a low-key phenomenon, and expanded rapidly throughout 1980s and 1990s; it is widely seen across the world as of the early 21st century.


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 1800s.[4][5] 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.[6]

Current conditions and statistics

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

Globally, these large congregations are a significant development in Protestant Christianity.[10] In the United States, the phenomenon has more than quadrupled in the past two decades.[11] It has since spread worldwide. In 2007, five of the ten largest Protestant churches were in South Korea.[12] 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.[12][13]


Civil rights activist and Baptist minister Al Sharpton has claimed that megachurches focus on personal morality issues while ignoring social justice issues.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Church Sizes". Retrieved 2017. 
  2. ^ Biard, Julia (February 23, 2006). "The good and bad of religion-lite". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006. 
  3. ^ Bryan S. Turner, The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, John Wiley & Sons, USA, 2010, p. 251
  4. ^ Anne C. Loveland, Otis B. Wheeler, From Meetinghouse to Megachurch: A Material and Cultural History, University of Missouri Press, USA, 2003, p. 35
  5. ^ "Exploring the Megachurch Phenomena: Their characteristics and cultural context". Archived from the original on 2015-11-01. Retrieved 2010. 
  6. ^ Angelus Temple. National Historic Landmarks Program, NPS
  7. ^ "Hartford Institute for Religion Research, database of Megachurches". Retrieved 2010. 
  8. ^ "The megachurch boom rolls on, but big concerns are rising too". Religion News Service. December 2, 2015. Retrieved 2016. 
  9. ^ "Megachurch Definition". Archived from the original on 2016-05-14. Retrieved 2010. 
  10. ^ Anne C. Loveland, Otis B. Wheeler, From Meetinghouse to Megachurch: A Material and Cultural History, University of Missouri Press, USA, 2003, p. 3
  11. ^ "Redirect". Retrieved 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "O come all ye faithful". Special Report on Religion and Public Life. The Economist. November 3, 2007. p. 6. Retrieved 2007. 
  13. ^ "In Pictures: America's 10 Biggest Megachurches". Forbes. June 26, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Black Leaders Blast Megachurches, Say They Ignore Social Justice". Associated Press. December 6, 2005. Retrieved 2006. 

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