Lights. Camera. Religion.
Megachurches are more than just your regular pulpit and pew church. They’re larger, they’re packed, and they’re drawing in thousands of people.
Going to a megachurch is a rising trend in the United States. In 2011, a survey by Harvard Institute of Religion Research found that six million people — about 10 percent of churchgoers surveyed — attended churches with more than 2,000 attendees.
But more people are giving megachurches a chance. OnFaith’s Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller, who is Catholic, attended a megachurch to see what the draw was, and she was very pleased with her experience.
“I had never been in a church with a lobby, welcome desk, café, people at tables having snacks and soft drinks, and a staff of friendly team members smiling and opening doors,” Eidemiller wrote. “It felt like opening night at the movies. The dim sanctuary doesn’t even have an altar, but rather a stage with two large projection screens flanking the band. The rows of pews were the only thing that came close to suggesting ‘church.’”
So is that what big churches are really like? Here are 15 different megachurches from across the country that are too cool not to talk about.
Thanks to Sermon Central, a religious resources website, for providing many of the statistics.
Pastor Joel Osteen, who has been somewhat of a celebrity sensation himself, is leading the charge when it comes to Lakewood. The non-denominational Christian church in Houston, Texas currently averages 43,5000 in attendance.
Second Baptist Church
The Second Baptist Church is far below Osteen’s church in numbers, but it’s still a big time player with 23,659 members. Pastor Ed Young leads the church, which is also located in Houston.
North Point Community Church
North Point Community Church is pulling in 22,557 believers to its location in Alpharetta, Georgia. The church, led by Pastor Andy Stanley, sometimes calls in musical artists to entertain its religious audience.
Willow Creek Community Church
Pastor Bill Hybels pulls in 22,500 members to the church in South Barrington, Illinois. The church is very focused on getting people involved and, much like other megachurches, brings in musical artists to get its messages across.
Lifechurch.tv not only has multiple locations across the U.S., but also caters to a wide online audience. You can watch live as pastor Craig Groeschel presents to 20,823 believers.
West Angeles Cathedral
Los Angeles has got one serious megachurch going on with West Angeles Cathedral, which is headed by pastor Charles E. Blake. The church draws in 20,000 members to its sermons. Its website is also especially noteworthy. The church promotes different events, its Twitter feed and even on-demand videos of sermons.
In the heart of Grapevine, Texas, pastor Ed Young Jr. leads a church of 19,913 Christian believers at the Fellowship Church. The church boasts a breathtaking online experience, as well as a variety of different online messages, for users to watch.
Few people haven’t heard of Rick Warren, the man who leads Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Drawing in 19,414 members, Warren has led his church to skyrocketing popularity in recent years.
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
About 18,000 people gather to hear pastor Bob Coy speak in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. This church is extremely community-based on its website, offering different blog posts and events.
The Potter’s House
Dallas is home to The Potter’s House church, which is led by pastor T.D. Jakes. The Potter’s House has about 17,000 members, who are also encouraged to read novels written by Jakes and his daughter, both promoted on the church’s website.
Here’s yet another Texas megachurch. Woodlands Church, located in The Woodlands, Texas, calls in 16,380 people to their sermons. The church’s website includes inspirational quotes and ways to donate to charities online.
Southeast Christian Church
Pastor Dave Stone is the head pastor of Southeast Christian Church out of Louisville, Kentucky. More than 16,200 people pack in to see Stone talk. The church also has other congregations opening up in places like Indiana, Oldham and Southwest.
Hopewell Missionary Baptist
About 16,000 go out to Hopewell Missionary Baptist church in Norcross, Georgia, to hear pastor William L. Sheals speak. By looks of the church’s website, it does try to appeal to a younger crowd.
New Birth Missionary Baptist
Georgia is home to the New Birth Missionary Baptist congregation, which calls in about 15,000 people to their church. One interesting fact that the church offers is a prayer recording feature, allowing members to call in and hear a prayer on request.
Want to see a church that’s all about family? NorthRidge Church, headed by pastor Brad Powell, is the right one for you. NorthRidge promotes family talks and events, as well as an array of online clips for believers to watch.