Friday, September 19, 2008

Mega Church Changes and Trends

Most of our readers probably do not attend "Mega Churches", but many have had some connection to one or may have visited one at one time or another. It can be an awesome experience to worship with thousands, but apart from being involved in a church ministry or a small group for Bible study and fellowship, one can easily get lost in the crowd of these huge churches. Past trends for Mega Churches have been to keep builing bigger buildings. However, this article from Focus on the Family's "Pastor's Weekly Briefing", and "" shows some interesting changes to the way many of these churches are "doing church" and how they identify themselves. Here is the article"

"Although attendance continues to increase at America's megachurches, they have not expanded their sanctuaries to accommodate the larger congregations. In fact — according to results from a new study — they have become more innovative in absorbing the growth.

Megachurches are "getting bigger without getting bigger," said Warren Bird, co-author of the new report. The findings are a result of a national study of America's roughly 1,200 megachurches with approximately one third returning a usable response to the survey conducted between February and August of 2008. It is entitled, "Changes in American Megachurches: Tracing Eight Years of Growth and Innovation in the Nation's Largest-Attendance Congregations."
More churches are opting for different strategies when accommodating larger flocks. The average weekend megachurch attendance in 2008 was 4,142 with the average main sanctuary seating at 1,794. As a result, some have turned to "overflow rooms" where attendees would typically watch the service on a video screen in a different area of the church. Many are holding multiple services, with the average megachurch today conducting five weekend services, up from 2005.

Perhaps the newest growth method adopted by megachurches is satellite campuses. During the last five years, over 30 percent of megachurches have adopted the multi-site model compared to only eight percent 6-10 years ago and three percent 11-15 years ago. "There is no doubt that this phenomenon is an increasing reality, judging by the percentage of megachurches that said they began a satellite in each of the past five year time periods," according to the report. On average, churches had two satellite locations and offered four services at these each weekend. The study also found that megachurches with satellite campuses were the most likely group to plant other churches.
Other developing patterns among megachurches included the following:
More megachurches are identifying themselves as "evangelical." In 2000, less than half (48%) chose the label "evangelical," but the number rose in 2008, with 65 percent now taking on the label.

Fewer megachurches are choosing to identify themselves as "charismatic" or "Pentecostal." Only seven percent chose the charismatic label in 2008, compared to 14 percent in 2000, and only four percent labeled themselves Pentecostal, compared to 11 percent in 2000.

The study stated that the majority of megachurch attendees are Republicans, but "they are not the arch-conservatives many people portray them as," illustrating a shift, as well, in political views. Only 33 percent described the majority of their church's attendees as predominantly conservative. Three years ago, 51 percent had that label. Also, 44 percent said their congregants are "somewhat on the conservative side" in 2008, compared to 33 percent in 2005. And 17 percent labeled their congregants as "right in the middle," while 11 percent said the same three years ago. [] "

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