Megachurch Attendees

W BirdMuch is written about megachurches, including here on this blog (US MegachurchesMegachurches Shaping American Protestantism, Mega Megachurches, Megachurch Bubble, Megachurches Offer a  Religious High, Church Size and Growth Potential, and even Mega-Interest in Megachurches).  One man, however, is behind as much or more research on megachurches than any other: Warren Bird.

Bird, research director at Leadership Network, is the co-author of a report entitled “Not Who You Think You Are,” which is based on data from The National Survey of Megachurch Attenders.  This research includes 24,900 responses from 12 carefully selected megachurches across the U.S. Conducted January to August 2008, it is the largest national representative study of megachurch attendees conducted by any researchers to date.

Recently, he blogged about some of the findings:

  • nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less,
  • new people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them,
  • fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches),
  • what first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church’s reputation, in that order, and
  • these same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs.

So What?

Since Protestant megachurches are four times more likely to be growing than are all Protestant churches (79% compared to 20%), it is important to understand more about those who attend.   The data from the study provides the only large scale consideration of this group to date.

  • Did any of the findings challenge your assumptions about who attends megachurches? If so, explain.
  • If you are a part of a smaller church (anything smaller than a megachurch) what can you glean from these findings that may help you help your congregation grow?

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