The Assemblies of God among the Megachurches


Over on my Facebook page, I posted the Facts & Trends story, “Where Are All the Megachurches?” earlier this morning. However, I dug around a bit in the data underlying this story and found out that the Assemblies of God (USA) has the fifth largest group of megachurches among Protestant congregations. Of the 1,667 churches in the Hartford Seminary database of megachurches, here are the top five groupings:

  1. Nondenominational (458)
  2. Southern Baptist (260)
  3. Unknown denomination (187)
  4. Baptist, unspecified (120)
  5. Assemblies of God (109)

Another way to look at this is that the AG has the second largest grouping of megachurches among America’s Protestant denominations. Why? First, factor out the “Nondenominational” and “Unknown denomination.” Then, factor out “Baptist, unspecified” because those churches could belong to one of over 60 Baptist denominations in the U.S. That leaves the Southern Baptists and the AG as discrete denominational entities.

With that in mind, consider yet another way of looking at these numbers. The Southern Baptist Convention claimed 15.22 million adherents in 2016. It has 260 megachurches. That’s a ratio of 58,538 : 1. The AG claimed 3.21 million adherents in 2016 and has 109 megachurches. That’s a ratio of 30,283 : 1. Per capita, then, the AG has more megachurches than the SBC.

Fun with statistics, I guess.

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P.S. If you’d like to review Hartford Seminary’s Data, go here: http://hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/database.html. You can sort by congregation, denomination, state, and size.

P.P.S. I had the joy of working with Doyle and Connie Surratt at SeaCoast Grace Church, one of the churches on the list. Hi, guys!

What I’m Reading Today


American Views on Terrorism: 15 Years after 9/11

“When asked how likely they think they would be the victim of a terrorist attack, most Americans believe they are either “not really” (52%) or “not at all likely” (20%) to be victims. However, almost a quarter believe it is “somewhat likely” (23%). This is a relatively large number…”

‘Consensus Statement’ to Force MDs to Kill/Abort

With Wesley J. Smith, I’m flabbergasted by a recent bioethicists’ statement that suggests physicians should not be given a conscientious exemption from participating in euthanasia and abortion, where those practices are legal.

Massachusetts: Churches may be covered by transgender discrimination bans, as to ‘secular events’

When it comes to banning discrimination against transgender persons, Eugene Volokh points out “where these rules are headed.” Hint: Some church events will be treated as public accommodations.

Free Webinar Links Pornography and Sex Trafficking

“The Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) and guest presenter, Dr. Sandie Morgan, will host a free webinar at 12 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, and 9 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, to present the link between pornography and sex trafficking. Designed to empower faith communities to integrate strategic action plans to educate and protect children and families, Morgan will take an in-depth look at the fantasies of pornography that drive purchasers and lure victims into sex trafficking.”

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship

What do Americans look for when searching for a new church? According to latest report from the Pew Forum: “Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.” That’s news you can use.

The New Stealth Translation: ESV

Scot McKnight detects unwarranted complementarian-friendly translation in the new ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016).

Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church Ranked America’s Largest Megachurch With 52,000 Weekly Attendance

And it’s not the only megachurch that’s gotten mega-er. There’s a downside, however: “With the rapid growth of megachurches in the United States, a negative relationship between size and frequency of attendance could serve to accelerate aggregate declines in attendance,” according to Socius, the journal of the American Sociological Association.

The Secret Jews of The Hobbit

Meir Soloveichik argues, “The dwarves of Middle Earth, the central characters of one of the most beloved books of all time, are indeed based on the Jews.”

Inside the World’s Only Surviving Tattoo Shop For Medieval Pilgrims

I don’t have any tattoos (and don’t really want one anyway), but that 300-year-old stencil of St. George killing the dragon is pretty cool…

The Vatican unseen: inside the secret world of the workers – a photo essay

Because even the floors of St. Peter’s Basilica need an occasional waxing…

‘Mystery Guests’ Rank Churches Based on First-Time Visits: Churches with 300-500 in Attendance Perform Best


When it comes to making a good first impression, which church scores best? Mega (1,000+), large (300-500), or micro (<80)?

First-time visitors to churches across the country say churches with 300 to 500 attendees perform the best when it comes to first impressions, according to a recent report. Their experiences at mega churches and smaller-sized congregations weren’t quite as enjoyable.

Faith Perceptions partnered with church leaders and sent out “mystery guests” to rate their first-time visits at churches varying in size from dozens of members to over a thousand. They found that “large” churches – with average weekly attendance of 300-500 – ranked “best in category” in nine out of 15 areas.

Such churches did particularly well with pre-service greetings, pre-service atmosphere, seating, in-service greetings, friendliness, directions and signage, according to how the visitors rated them. The overall experience was good enough that they gave a 7.48 score (10 point scale) on whether they would return – the highest score compared to other churches.

According to the scale used by Faith Perceptions, a 7.01-7.50 is marked as “fair,” a 7.51-8 is “good” and over 8 is “very good.”

But there were still some areas that the “large” churches ranked lower in compared to others. The only “poor” or “very poor” score that “large” churches received was with regard to its children’s ministries.

First-time guests, meanwhile, found children’s ministries to be the best at mega churches (defined as having at least 1,000 attendees). Mega churches also had the highest scores in the area of sermon, speaker and connect-resources.

What mega churches ranked poorly in, however, was the “post-service atmosphere” with a score of 4.73. And that’s where micro congregations (with 0-80 in attendance) did best with a score of 7.88.

In terms of overall experience and whether one would return, micro churches ranked lowest.

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