Top 20 U.S. Megachurches

Note: This table doesn’t appear to allow for horizontal scrolling on some mobile devices and is best viewed on a tablet or desktop. Someday, maybe, I’ll fix it or design it. But by that point, it will be time for a new list…

Church Location Denomination Attend-ance Founded Sites Senior Pastor Age Something Interesting
1 Lakewood Church Houston TX non-denominational 43000 1959 1 Joel Osteen 51 Joel’s approximately 20 books have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. As of 2004, he stopped taking a salary from the church, but he’s made enough from books and other engagements to allow him to live in a $10 million mansion.
2 Northpoint Ministries Alpharetta GA non-denominational 31228 1995 6 Andy Stanley 56 Reminded me a bit of Crossroads- would read stuff like “creating churches that unchurched people loved to attend.”
3 NewSpring Church Anderson SC Southern Baptist Convention 30791 2000 11 Perry Noble 42 Pastor seems to be a “say anything” kind of guy and the church even paid for billboards leading people to the site parentsareclueless.com
4 Gateway Church Southlake TX non-denominational 25157 2000 5 Robert Morris ? They have a program for 7th-12th graders from single-parent homes
5 Church of the Highlands Birmingham AL non-denominational 24860 2001 10 Chris Hodges ? Like several other churches on this list, has its own training college called Highlands College
6 Willow Creek Community Church South Barrington IL non-denominational 24517 1975 7 Bill Hybels 63 Both the main website and pastor’s site felt very business-like as they strive to attract new members. Bill’s site sold books, dvds, and other materials
7 Saddleback Church Lake Forest CA Evangelical 23980 1980 9 Rick Warren 60 Rick was influenced to write a spiritual diet book after baptizing 800 people in one day and realizing how many people are obese. But his most popular book is The Purpose Driven Life and it’s the second most translated book in the world besides The Bible.
8 Southeast Christian Church Louisville KY Evangelical 22225 1962 4 Dave Stone 53 Campus has a workout facility, adult and youth sports programs, a bookstore (money they make helps fund radio airtime) and a full-service café.
9 Christ’s Church of the Valley Peoria AZ non-denominational 21381 1982 5 Don Wilson 65 Intro video was good, but ended with “I’d like to invite you to one of our services where we can help you win at life,” which sounded a little too much like a business, not a church.
10 Phoenix First Assembly of God Phoenix AZ Assemblies of God 21000 1924 1 Luke Barnett 45 Lead pastor is the son of the former pastor (who is still employed) and both of his siblings are also in leadership positions. Pastor’s wife, Angel, is the directory of women’s ministry. They have a big Christmas production that includes a real camel and elephant!
11 Christ Fellowship Church Palm Beach Gardens FL non-denominational 20260 1984 9 Todd Mullins ? Their Palm Beach building seems really cool (almost too cool?) with its cute city/town theme.
12 Second Baptist Church Houston TX Southern Baptist Convention 19552 1927 5 Dr. Ed Young 78 Church has a restaurant inside called Jane’s Grill as well as a fitness center and sports programs for adults and youth.
13 Woodlands Church Woodlands TX Southern Baptist Convention 19265 1993 3 Kerry Shook 52 They have “Woodlands Seminary”, a training program that cost $1000 a semester.
14 Eagle Brook Church Centerville MN Baptist 19029 1949 6 Bob Merritt ? Seeker-friendly church that is Baptist but open to people of all denominations. Mission trips include the country of Norway, a country not known for religious involvement.
15 Calvary Church of Ft. Lauderdale Ft. Lauderdale FL Calvary Chapel 18000 1985 10 Doug Sauder 45 They have 32 people labeled as pastors and not a single one is female. Their founding pastor recently stepped down in 2014 after “moral failure”, which was having affairs with more than one woman and committing sexual immorality through a porn addiction. He used to run a casino with exotic dancers in Vegas before committing his life to Christ. Also admitted to cocaine in the past.
16 Flatirons Community Church Lafeyette CO non-denominational 17187 1993 2 Jim Burgen ? From wikipedia: “[Burgen] attributes the church’s huge growth since being founded to its avoiding the “weirdness of religion” and instead providing a place to heal.” Bergen seems like he’s willing to tackle tough topics and say anything. Against “bad religion” and gave a sermon on how he’s tired of rules religions make, like no alcohol.
17 Crossroads Church Cincinnati OH non-denominational 17064 1995 5 Brian Tome 49 Humor can be found on site- in the FAQ you can find questions like “what happens with leftover money?” Answer: “There is currently a fund to bankroll the Sr. Pastor’s assistant’s private Caribbean island for her retirement.” Also: “Is this place a cult?”
18 The Potter’s House Dallas TX non-denominational *17000 1996 4 T.D. Jakes 57 The staff member’s email addresses are @tdjakes.org, which would be the pastor’s name. One of only two churches in this list that listed female pastors on the website.
19 Hopewell Missionary Baptist Norcross GA Baptist 16000 1981 1 William Sheals 67 Technically, it was founded around 1865 by freed slaves, but it began a rebirth in the 1980s thanks to Pastor Sheals. His second marriage to wife Patricia contained 106 bridesmaids and groomsmen (53 of each).
20 Elevation Church Matthews NC Southern Baptist Convention 15482 2006 12 Steven Furtick 34 Very fast growing church with over 25 “extension” locations. The website had me asking myself, “is this a church or a company?” Furtick is very perfect sounding and the site is very polished. Offers to give newcomers a “VIP Experience” if they sign up ahead of time. His personal website contains a menu item “Special Offer” where if you donate money of any size (but they def suggest $25 or more) you get a DVD. Furtick caught some flak for building a 1.7 million dollar home for his family of four that he called “a gift from God.”
Averages: 22630 35.7 years 5.8 54.5

“Is this the movie theaters?” “No, sir, it’s a church. A very large one.”

Since I happen to go to a megachurch (Crossroads Church in Cincinnati), I recently became curious about all the other megachurches out there. The word megachurch just implies that it’s a really large church and nothing else, even though the megachurch stereotype includes modern worship services with loud music and a place where you have comfy seats and can bring your coffee in, but not all of these churches are like that. It was eye-opening for me to check out all these other churches (by looking at their websites and articles about them- thanks Google!) and compare them to mine. Kind of brought me out of my bubble a bit. On the one hand, it was interesting to see so many commonalities between them all (like their extension locations), which made my church not seem as unique, but it also made me appreciate my church more for certain things, like how we don’t sell books and other materials on our website and our senior/founding pastor doesn’t even have a picture or bio up on the website because he’s not trying to make it all about him (I’m assuming). They are all heavy on the males in leadership- every single church has a male senior pastor that is on average 54 years old and only two- The Potter’s House and Hopewell Missionary Baptist- are non-white. All the pastors are married with kids and it appears only one- William Sheals of Hopewell Missionary Baptist- is divorced (he is now remarried).  I found only two churches, The Potter’s House and Crossroads, that listed female pastors.  Most of the churches, especially those near the top of the list, had very snazzy websites and videos. Oddly, I was kind of happy my church’s website wasn’t as sleek- it felt more like a true church and less business-like and consumer-driven (update: the website has been updated since this post was written).

I love that my megachurch is a place that is capable of doing great things. Crossroaders are very generous people who have donated tons of their own money to make things happen in our city and elsewhere, like funding after-care homes for girls rescued from sex slavery in India. We don’t focus on religious rituals but rather on community, service, and educating people on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s definitely a Bible-based church, not some New Age self-help center like some people think, and people there are the real deal. I’ve truly been challenged to change the way I think about things and live my life. I’ve also managed to find really good friends there, something I didn’t think would be very easy at a megachurch. I’ve learned A LOT as well. Before I came to Crossroads, I didn’t really understand what it meant when people said “Jesus died for your sins” and things like that. I get it now and I’m very grateful I found Crossroads.

Please take all this information with a grain of salt as websites are not always up-to-date and I’m not actually visiting or talking with people to get this information.  I  compiled it primarily through Outreach Magazine’s 2014 “Largest Churches in America” list and added a few churches I knew were missing, like Lakewood (probably because they didn’t fill out Outreach’s survey), and googled around for other lists. The attendance totals for a few may be from a different year and it’s also hard to compare a church if they list membership instead of attendance, because that’s not the same thing. So the bottom line is that this list is not perfect and could be missing a couple churches and the order could be slightly off. And when reading my notes, keep in mind that no churches are perfect, they all have flaws as they are being ran by flawed people.

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