Analyzing the trend toward larger churches

Megachurches are increasingly difficult to ignore. By the latest count there are approximately 1,200 Protestant churches in the United States that have a weekly attendance of at least 2,000. The rise of megachurches raises the question: Why now? Why have very large churches proliferated in recent decades? Did something happen in the 1970s or 1980s to make the number of very large churches start to increase in those years?

With a lot of help from denomination-based researchers, interlibrary loan and dedicated students, I examined church size in 12 Protestant denominations back to about 1970, and over a longer period for seven of these denominations. Overall, I tracked the church-size distribution in American Protestantism from about 1900 to the present.


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