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Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America

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Outreach magazine releases annual issue. Report shows increase in church attendance.

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VISTA, Calif., Sept. 8, 2010—Research used to compile the Outreach Magazine/LifeWay Research Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America lists indicates that attendance in the churches on the Fastest-Growing list has increased over last year. Combined, total attendance was 643,727, an increase of 75,246. The lists appear in Outreach magazine’s 2010 Outreach 100 Special Issue, published Sept. 15, 2010.

More about Ed StetzerTo survey churches for this report, Outreach again partnered with LifeWay Research for the fourth consecutive year. Led by LifeWay Research President and Outreach columnist Dr. Ed Stetzer, researchers contacted more than 8,000 churches to gather the self-reported data used to compile the lists. The listings are based on February and March weekend attendance averages.

The 2010 Outreach 100 Special Issue includes more research and statistics than ever before, as well as more profiles of churches.

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“As we approached the 2010 Outreach 100, we knew we wanted to tell more stories of churches to truly reflect their impact and to get to the heart of why they’re growing,” Outreach magazine Editor Lindy Lowry said. “So we increased the number of profiles from five to 15 and added several other feature-length articles offering the stories behind the numbers. Ultimately, The Outreach 100 is not so much about numbers as it is the individuals those numbers represent—people who have found hope in Jesus, and the churches pointing them to Him.”

“The Outreach 100 lists are a window into the ongoing lives and ministries of churches in motion,” Stetzer said. “They give us a freeze frame from an epic motion picture that is engaged in God’s mission.”

Matt ChandlerThe 2010 Outreach 100 also includes a candid conversation with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas (No. 59 Largest and No. 81 Fastest-Growing), who on Thanksgiving Day last year was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Chandler shares what God is doing in his public fight against cancer and his leadership at The Village Church.

The special issue also contains an article about churches working to elevate their communities via Dream Centers. It features five large churches throughout the country, including Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, La., Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., New Life Church in Conway, Ark., and the Los Angeles Dream Center, the inaugural Dream Center model established 16 years ago by Pastor Matthew Barnett. Today, Dream Center LA serves 40,000 people each month in South Central Los Angeles and has birthed 180 autonomous locations worldwide.

The Largest and Fastest-Growing lists are based on February and March weekend attendance averages. The 2010 Largest list includes churches with an attendance of more than 5,500 while this year’s Fastest-Growing list includes churches with attendance greater than 1,000; a numerical gain of 250 or more; and a percentage gain of at least 3 percent. Rankings for Fastest-Growing Churches are determined by factoring both percentage growth and numerical gain.

Fastest-Growing Churches Fast Facts

1. Some 643,727 people are represented by the combined attendance of the Outreach 100 Fastest-Growing Churches in America. These churches added 75,246 people over their combined previous year’s attendance, an average of more than 750 per church.

2. The state with the most churches on the Fastest-Growing list (14) is Texas. Florida and Illinois have eight, followed by California (seven), Georgia and Tennessee (both with six).

3.Combined, the 100 Fastest-Growing churches represent 373 worship sites, an average of almost four per church and 93 more than last year.

4. The youngest church on the Fastest-Growing list is Experience Life, Lubbock, Texas, (No. 2), founded in 2007. The oldest church is Mountain Christian Church, Joppa, Md. (No. 78), founded in 1824.

Largest Churches Fast Facts

1. Some 1,012,832 people are represented by the combined attendance of the Outreach 100 Largest Churches in America.

2. Combined, the 100 Largest churches represent 384 worship sites. Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, Tenn. (No. 77) has the most with 27 (primarily deaf-church sites) followed by First Baptist Church Springdale and Pinnacle Hills, Springdale, Ark., with 16, many of which are in prisons and apartment buildings.

3. Texas has the most Largest churches with 17 followed by California with 16, Georgia (nine), Florida (seven) and Illinois and Ohio with five.

4. Almost half (49) of the Largest churches identify themselves as “nondenominational.”

5. The youngest church on the Largest list is Elevation Church, Matthews, N.C. (No. 95), founded in 2006. The oldest is The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, Jamaica, N.Y., (No. 63), founded in 1834.

Top 5 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches
(church name, location, pastor, growth by percent, by number)

1. 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, Ga., Kevin Myers (30 percent, +2,226)

2. Experience Life Church, Lubbock, Texas, Chris Galanos (60 percent, +1,061)

3. The Rock Church and World Outreach Center, San Bernardino, Calif., Jim Cobrae (25 percent, +2,646)

4. People’s Church, Oklahoma City, Okla., Herbert Cooper (58 percent, +1,085)

5. Faith Church of St. Louis, Fenton, Mo., David Crank (36 percent, +1,200)

Top 5 Largest U.S. Churches
(church name, location, pastor, attendance)

1. Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas, Joel Osteen, (43,500)

2. North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Ga., Andy Stanley (24,325)

3. Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, Ed Young Sr. (24,041)

4. Willow Creek Community Church, South Barington, Ill., Bill Hybels (24,000)

5. Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky., Dave Stone (19,230)

San Diego, California-based Outreach magazine offers the ideas, insights and stories of today’s outreach-oriented Bible-based churches. Founded in January 2003 by church communications company Outreach, Inc., Outreach is an award-winning leading periodical for church leadership. Outreach is available by subscription. For more information, visit OutreachMagazine.com.

The Outreach 100 lists were compiled by LifeWay Research and include only Protestant churches—as defined by the American Religious Data Archive—that opted to participate in the study. The Outreach 100 is based on a self-reported survey, not an independent investigation. Outreach and LifeWay are not responsible for errors/discrepancies in self-reported data or churches not opting to report. Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

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2010 Outreach 100 Each issue of Outreach is designed to bring you the ideas, innovations and resources that will help you reach your community and change the world. Receive the Outreach 100 special issue with your subscription.

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