Megachurch Attenders: What are they like?

Megachurch Attenders: What are they like? June 5, 2014

By Warren Bird and Scott Thumma, at Leadership Network:

  1. Nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less.
  2. Many attenders come from other churches, but nearly a quarter haven’t been in any church for a long time before coming to a megachurch.
  3. New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them.
  4. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches).
  5. What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church’s reputation, in that order.
  6. These same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs.
  7. Attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met.
  8. Attenders can craft unique, customized spiritual experiences through the multitude of ministry choices and diverse avenues for involvement that megachurches offer.
  9. In many ways, large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • If you think about it, there are no mega churches, only mega people. Church is where disciples are made, the rest is just the world.

  • Phil Cannon

    I particularly like bullet point number 10.

  • RJS4DQ

    This survey is interesting – the churches appear to be “mid-range” mega churches, and they cover a range of backgrounds and places and forms of church. None were over 10,000 attendance and most below 5000.

    I don’t think (and never have) that the question is size … comparing >2000 attenders with other sizes. The question is one of focus, purpose, and aim.

    If numerical growth is the primary aim the focus and purpose is wrong and that will impact the way in which the attenders are shaped and formed. But a larger church can increase the web of weak interactions and the variety of opportunities available.

    After the more theological questions, the kinds of questions I’d ask when evaluating a church are – Does this church provide a wide range of opportunities for participation? Does it provide a wide range of opportunities for education/growth/service? Does it challenge thinking and foster growth? Does it value congregational initiative and lay-leadership? Does it foster an atmosphere of mentorship? Does it cultivate interactions across adult age groups, races, and genders? Do a wide variety of people across age, race, gender, participate in worship? (Not in the pews)

  • Craig Wright

    Regarding point #5, I think that at our church the children’s programs are a big draw. Also, there is much better efficiency and competence in regards to these programs, as well as in the music program. This all affects new attenders, as well as people who leave smaller churches.

  • RJS4DQ

    Also, there is much better efficiency and competence in regards to these programs, as well as in the music program.

    Actually I disagree with this at every possible level. In fact it is this attitude on the part of mega church supporters that bothers me the most deeply.

    As an example … I teach at a major top notch university. It has advantages – but it is not better in efficiency and competency than smaller colleges and universities.

    Personally I think that in the church we need to stomp “snobbishness” underfoot and never let it rear its ugly head. (This goes for those who are snobbish about small as well as large.)

  • Craig Wright

    I’m not necessarily a mega church supporter, much less snobbish. I’m just relating some observations from my experience, and those who shared these with me. We began attending a mega church in our later years, because of a move to a new neighborhood, after much work and dedication in smaller churches, as well as inner city churches.

  • Jeff Y

    Interesting. Seems to be only “positive” type characteristics listed (at least positive to some). I’d be interested to know how many people they are reaching who really haven’t ever been in church (or is it just people who haven’t been in a long time)? And, what of their demographic make up? Not saying it’s wrong if they have successful members – but are they reaching people on the margins/fringe? The ones I’ve been to seem to all be of similar socio-economic class (I realize that’s only anecdotal info and not in any way a legitimate survey).

  • Funsize

    I personally don’t enjoy megachurches. I attended one for awhile, but I much prefer a smaller parish, it’s just more personal in my opinion.

  • lmalone

    They have missed the most important aspect: What it takes to grow a mega church. And if one understands that, all the “positives” crumble unless one is a collectivist. Cult of personality is the key.
    All should require a copy of the budget before they ever join and give one dime. They should also be aware of how the large staff operates. Often the real evil goes on behind stage that they are supporting but have NO clue. They might decide they don’t see advancing the kingdom by helping pay a 20,000 per month electric bill or a high six figure salaries for the pastors.