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CULTE RELIGIOASE

The Top 10 Christian Megachurches in America in 2011

By Michael C Murphy

The Christian Church in America

According to the “American Religious Identification Survey” conducted in 2008, Christianity is on the decline in America. In 1990, 60% of the U.S. adult population identified themselves as Christian. Eighteen years later in 2008, only 50% of U.S. adults identified themselves as Christian. Still there are many churches that seem to buck this trend and continue to grow dramatically. These megachurches are likely taking members away from dying churches more than they are converting new Christians to the faith, but there are no real numbers that I can find to document this theory. What seems clear is these churches are speaking to believers in a way that inspires them to belong and to invite their friends and family. The size and growth of these churches are amazing and while we may quibble with the theology of some, there is no denying they are touching the hearts of thousands in a way that has profound meaning. Ten of the largest megachurches in America are showcased below. Most of these churches are pastored by their founder but there are some exceptions. A couple of these churches are pastored by the son of another remarkably successful pastor. In all, you find a divergent group with some similarities showing through that may speak to the future of the Christian church in America.

Joel Osteen

Lakewood Church

Joel Osteen is senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston Texas, which is America’s largest Christian church. Lakewood Church holds service in what once was a basketball stadium now transformed into an enormous house of worship holding 40,000 devotees. In addition, as many as seven million more watch Osteen on his weekly television broadcast. Osteen has been criticized by some more conservative pastors as preaching a watered-down doctrine with little dependency on scripture. Osteen himself says he sees himself more as a life coach emphasizing the power of love and a positive attitude. Joel Osteen took over Lakewood Church in 1999 after his father John Osteen’s sudden death. At that time, Joel had only preached one sermon in his life. He is a bestselling author and his television broadcast is seen in over 100 nations around the world.

Books from Joel Osteen

Living in Favor, Abundance and Joy Living in Favor, Abundance and Joy

Amazon Price: $16.47
List Price: $29.99
Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

Amazon Price: $1.00
List Price: $25.00
Good, Better, Blessed: Living with Purpose, Power and Passion Good, Better, Blessed: Living with Purpose, Power and Passion

Amazon Price: $16.05
List Price: $29.99

Greg Groeschel

LifeChurch.tv

Greg Groeschel is senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv a unique video broadcast service delivered to thirteen locations in six different states as well as online to the world. Weekly attendance is listed at about 26,000 but I was unable to find any numbers for their online participation. Groeschel started LiveChurch.tv from his garage with a small group of people designing his new paradigm in response to his own non-churchgoer market research. In 2007 Outreach Magazine named LifeChurch.tv America’s most innovative church. Groeschel has written several books and speaks frequently at conferences. He attended Phillips Theological Seminary and received a Master of Divinity degree.

Andy Stanley

North Point Community Church

Andy Stanley is senior pastor of North Point Community Church, and also Buckhead Church and Browns Bridge Community Church via a video broadcast. The total attendance is about 23,000 for all three campuses. Andy Stanley is the son of Dr. Charles Stanley who is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. Andy earned a masters degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and spent many years as Associate Pastor and Minister to Students at his father’s church before starting his own church in 1995. North Point Community Church is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian church in Alpharetta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Andy also founded North Point Ministries through which he has planted 20 strategic partner churches.

Books from Andy Stanley

The Grace of God The Grace of God

Amazon Price: $1.88
List Price: $21.99
Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future

Amazon Price: $9.29
List Price: $19.99
The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Amazon Price: $6.30
List Price: $19.99

Bill Hybels

Willow Creek Community Church

Bill Hybels is senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Willow Creek has a 7,200 seat worship center that it fills three times on Sunday for a total of about 22,000 attendees. Hybels has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Trinity International University and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from TIU’s Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Willow Creek is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian Church. Hybels served as a youth pastor in the 70s before he started his own church with a group of friends in 1975. They started with a congregation of about 125 which grew to 2,000 in just two years. In 1981 they moved to their current location and the church grew to 15,000 by the year 2000. Hybels has authored many Christian books, especially on the subject of Christian leadership.

Books from Bill Hybels

The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond

Amazon Price: $8.82
List Price: $22.99
Becoming a Contagious Christian Becoming a Contagious Christian

Amazon Price: $4.55
List Price: $12.99
Courageous Leadership Courageous Leadership

Amazon Price: $9.64
List Price: $16.99

Dr. Ed Young

Second Baptist Church

Dr. Ed Young is senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Second Baptist has a weekly attendance of about 23,000 and also has four other satellite locations bringing total membership to around 53,000. The church was founded in 1927. When Dr. Young arrived in 1978 it had a congregation of about 2,000. Dr. Young received his ministry training at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1992 & 1993 and has authored many books. The services at Second Baptist are broadcast nationally on television and radio. In addition to worship facilities the church also offers fitness centers, bookstores, a café, and a K-12 school.

Rick Warren

Saddleback Church

Rick Warren is senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life and many other books. Warren’s father was a Baptist minister and Rick received his Master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Saddleback is an evangelical Christian church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Warren started his church in 1980 after a Bible study group he started in his condo grew to 250 people. By the 1990s attendance had grown to 10,000 and the land for their current facility was purchased; however, services were held in a 2,300 seat tent for several years while construction was underway. Weekly attendance in their completed 3,500 seat worship center is estimated to be about 22,000. Due to the enormous success of his book sales, Warren no longer receives a salary from Saddleback and in fact returned his 25 years of salary to the church.

Books from Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?

Amazon Price: $3.59
List Price: $14.99
The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God's Eyes The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God’s Eyes

Amazon Price: $3.48
List Price: $21.99
Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods: Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God's Word Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods: Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word

Amazon Price: $5.75
List Price: $16.99

Ed Young

Fellowship Church

Ed Young is senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas a suburb of Dallas, with a weekly attendance of about 17,000. Fellowship is an evangelical Christian church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Ed Young is the son of Dr. Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston. Fellowship Church started in 1989 with about 150 members and soon after Ed Young was brought in as pastor. Ed transformed the church to a “seeker church” style made popular by Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church. Since then the church has seen steady growth and has added four satellite locations. Ed Young started his ministry service working as associate pastor at his father’s church after receiving his Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Books from Ed Young

YOU! YOU!

Amazon Price: $0.44
List Price: $14.99
Outrageous, Contagious Joy: Five Big Questions to Help You Discover One Great Life Outrageous, Contagious Joy: Five Big Questions to Help You Discover One Great Life

Amazon Price: $2.27
List Price: $14.00
High Definition Living: Bringing Clarity to Your Life High Definition Living: Bringing Clarity to Your Life

Amazon Price: $10.71
List Price: $16.95

Dave Stone

Southeast Christian Church

Dave Stone is senior minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky taking over those duties from Bob Russell after his retirement in 2006. Previously, Stone had served as a preaching associate at Southeast. The church started in 1962 and by 1976 attendance exceeded 1,000. By the time Dave Stone took over, attendance had grown to over 13,000 and the current attendance is estimated at beyond 17,000. Southeast is an evangelical, Christian church associated with the Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. The Southeast mission statement states they exist to evangelize the lost, edify the saved, minister to those in need, and be a conscience in the community – leading people to Jesus and one another.

Kerry Shook

Woodlands Church

Kerry Shook is senior pastor of the Woodlands Church in Woodlands, Texas, founded in 1993 and now located on four campuses with an average attendance of over 15,000. Shook is a bestselling author and former pastor of Sawdust Road Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Shook believes church should be engaging and fun. He began broadcasting his message on local television in 2005 and can now be seen in 50 states and over 200 countries. Shook’s goal is to help people experience a relationship with Jesus Christ. He also delivers his messages live online via the Woodlands Church website.

Books from Kerry Shook

Love at Last Sight: Thirty Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships Love at Last Sight: Thirty Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships

Amazon Price: $5.74
List Price: $19.99
One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life

Amazon Price: $6.09
List Price: $19.99
One Month to Live Devotional Journal: Your Thirty-Day Companion to a No-Regrets Life One Month to Live Devotional Journal: Your Thirty-Day Companion to a No-Regrets Life

Amazon Price: $5.98
List Price: $14.99

Bob Coy

Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale

Bob Coy is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with an estimated weekly attendance of 15,000. The church was founded in 1985 and now occupies a 3,700 seat sanctuary that includes a children’s and youth ministry that includes a skateboard park. At the age of 24, Bob Coy left a good job in the music industry to become associate pastor at Calvary Chapel in Las Vegas. Bob started his Fort Lauderdale church with four people in the living room of his home and attributes the rapid growth to numerous reasons but ultimately he gives all credit to God alone. The church website makes the claim that they are not a building, not a person, not a religious institute. It is a vibrant body of believers through which God is able to work and be glorified.

Books from Bob Coy

Dreamality Dreamality

Amazon Price: $0.46
List Price: $14.99
Devotionary: A Devotional with Meaning Devotionary: A Devotional with Meaning

Amazon Price: $4.39
List Price: $10.99

Conclusion

The reoccurring themes seem to be the use of technology via the Internet and multi-location video broadcast of church services. There also seems to be a trend to offer church on Saturday as well as Sunday and other services during the week via online video. The “seeker friendly” model appears to carry the weight of developing a church that appeals to a wider audience. By developing services that are relevant to unbelievers as well as believers, the church has a greater opportunity to cultivate new converts and gently encourage the un-churched back into regular attendance. I think it’s important to note that not all believers like the megachurch trend and many are much more comfortable in smaller churches where they can feel more a part of a family rather than an enormous community. Nevertheless, I believe there is much to learn from the success of these megachurches and I offer them here for your evaluation and consideration.

articol preluat de aici http://michaelcmurphy.hubpages.com/hub/The-Top-10-Megachurches-in-America-in-2010

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