The big business of the megachurch is interesting, to say the least. The statistics of these specialized churches is considerably different than that of regular everyday churches. For instance, churches in the United States of America are shutting down at a rate of one percent. Megachurches, on the other hand, are growing rapidly at eight percent. While these institutions have been criticized by many for utilizing corporate techniques, smaller and more traditional churches have been watching their flocks migrating towards religious experiences that are considered a bit more “mega.”
What exactly is a megachurch? In general, a megachurch is a place of worship that is much larger and holds an average of at least 2,000 people per week. Like a regular church, megachurches are tax exempt, and on average, they earn $7.2 billion per year. Typically, the leader of a megachurch exudes charisma and authority and is similar in personality to a celebrity due to his popularity. Many of the institutions are evangelical, which means they are dependent on growth to survive. They also tend to be more white, suburban and Southern. Oddly, some megachurches are even similar to miniature cities as they include gyms, arcades, shopping and even Starbucks coffee houses.
Megachurches roughly make up around 0.5 percent of Protestant churches. Roughly, out of 314,000 Protestant churches, 1,638 of these are megachurches. 10.7 percent of weekly attendance takes place at megachurches, and while there are 56 million Protestant churchgoers, six million of those attend megachurches. The number of these institutions has also increased dramatically over the years. For instance, there were only 10 megachurches in 1970, but that number increased to 740 by 2000. In 2010, it reached 1,638.
The largest megachurch in the world is not in the United States but in Seoul, South Korea. It is the Yoido Full Gospel Church and is headed by senior pastor David Yonggi Cho. Its membership is quite large at 850,000 and it has an incredible annual budget of $200 million.
In the United States, however, there are plenty of large megachurches. The largest is the Lakewood Church that is headed by Joel Osteen. It is located in Houston, Texas and has a weekly attendance of 43,500 people with an annual budget of $70 million. In spite of this statistic, the state that boasts the most megachurches is California with 218.
Source: Online Christian College Reviews