Small churches out number U.S. megachurches nine to one. Each has their own unique local and global tasks. When John Vaughan, founder of Church Growth Today (1980), wrote the book, The World’s 20 Largest Churches (1985), there were only 27 known non-Catholic churches in the world with 6,000 plus weekend attendance. Eleven were in the United States. Today, more than 200 in the U.S. are that large.
By the year 2000 the Springfield, Missouri, researcher reported the 100 largest churches grew to 4,000 attendance. They then doubled in size and the smallest of the 100 largest by 2010 increased to 8,000 weekend attendance. Today, Vaughan reports, the 100 largest of the 1,742 non-Catholic megachurches (Hartford has 1,467) begin at 9,000 attendance and the 200 largest begin at 6,000 attendance.
U.S. megachurch attendance, by global standards even by 1999 standards, are still smaller. In 1999, Church Growth Today had already identified 10 churches outside the U.S. with 30,000 weekend attendance. The three largest were Yoido Full Gospel Church-Seoul, Korea (180,000), Vision de Futuro-Santa Fe, Argentina (80,000), and Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Lagos, Nigeria (70,000). Africa is projected to be the most populated Christian continent by 2020. Africa already has more than 15 churches reporting more than 20,000 attendance. What many American church leaders think of as unique recent American creativity and innovation has been known in other global megachurches as simply old school survival strategies for several decades.
What about the next decade? Vaughan, with the Springfield, Missouri based Church Growth Today has already identified the next 150 potential emerging 9,000 attendance megachurches, their geography, and their rates of growth. There are, as never before, an abundance of capable pastors able to lead these churches in the next generation.
About Church Growth Today – Church Growth Today, located in Springfield, Missouri, is a church growth research center founded in 1980 by Dr. John N. Vaughan and specializes in U.S. and global megachurches. International Megachurch Research Center was created in 1985 under Church Growth Today specifically for global megachurch research already begun by Church Growth Today.
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