‘Top 100’ Churches List Released amid Some Criticism

By Lillian Kwon | Christian Post Reporter

The annual Outreach 100 list of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America is out but absent from the list is a number of megachurches that were documented in previous years.

The report is not a comprehensive list. Data is based on a self-reported survey and not an independent investigation. This year, however, several churches that once participated chose to opt out of the survey.

(Photo: Lakewood Church)

“From a research perspective, this nonparticipation is sad. But theologically speaking, the reasons many churches choose to not broadcast their numbers are quite noble,” said Kent Shaffer on ChurchRelevance.com, which exists to help churches become more effective and efficient. “Many nonparticipating churches just don’t want to negatively affect other churches. And, of course others just forget to report their numbers to the researchers.”

In recent years, the Outreach 100 list has drawn criticism for, among other things, feeding the ego of large church pastors and not recognizing some of the smaller healthy churches that are growing.

Churches with a weekend attendance of 1,000 or more make up only about 2 percent of America’s 300,000 Protestant churches. And megachurches (with 2,000 or more attendees) comprise less than half a percent.

The smallest church featured in the Outreach largest churches list this year has an average weekend attendance of 5,500 and the fastest-growing list includes churches with an attendance greater than 1,000.

“Over the last seven years, there have been 18 top churches lists published,” Shaffer noted. “Combined they make a great directory of churches worth studying, but the constant stream of lists can also occasionally become overbearing, nurture unhealthy competition, and create an imbalanced perspective of which ministry metrics are most important.Read more: CP


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