Megachurches by the Numbers

05_mega by numbers_JNBy Kent E. Fillinger

Here are some summary stats for the megachurches (more than 2,000 in weekly attendance) and emerging megachurches (an average weekly attendance of 1,000 to 1,999). A total of 63 megachurches and 67 emerging megachurches participated in this year’s survey. All statistics are based on the 2012 calendar year.

In addition to the 130 megachurches and emerging megachurches, 105 large churches (which average 500 to 999 weekly) and 109 medium-size churches (an average weekly attendance of 250 to 499) participated in this year’s survey. The 344 participating churches are the most to date. Complete survey findings for every church are available in the 110-page downloadable 2012 Christian Church Report—Deluxe Edition (order item number 025611013 at www.standardpub.com).

 

ATTENDANCE

Average weekly attendance of a megachurch was 4,586.

Average weekly attendance of an emerging megachurch was 1,309.

For the last five years, megachurches have increased in size annually; emerging megachurches, meanwhile, have decreased in average size each year during that same time period.

Average weekly attendance of all 130 megachurches and emerging megachurches was 2,897—an increase of 6 people from the previous year.

Combined average weekly attendance for these 130 churches was 376,652—a 3 percent increase over 2011 (when 126 such churches reported attendance figures).

 

EASTER ATTENDANCE

Average megachurch Easter attendance was 8,453, which is 84 percent more than the same churches’ average weekly attendance.

Average emerging megachurch Easter attendance was 2,206, which is 69 percent more than those churches’ average weekly attendance.

 

CHRISTMAS EVE ATTENDANCE

Average attendance at Christmas Eve services in megachurches was 7,924—a 14 percent increase from the prior year.

Average attendance at Christmas Eve services in emerging megachurches was 1,645—the same as the year before.

 

TOTAL GROWTH RATE

Megachurches grew an average of 3 percent, compared with 5.8 percent growth the year prior. This was the lowest growth rate for megachurches in the last five years.

Overall, 70 percent of the megachurches grew. Most of the megachurches (73 percent) grew 1 to 9 percent.

Emerging megachurches grew an average of 4 percent, down from 5.4 percent the year before.

Overall, 60 percent of emerging megachurches grew, down from 77 percent in 2011.

 

BAPTISMS

Megachurches baptized a total of 23,310 people in 2012, an average of 370 baptisms per megachurch.

Emerging megachurches baptized a total of 5,824 people, an average of 87 per church.

Megachurches baptized an average of 7.8 people per 100 in attendance, up from 7.0 in 2011.

Emerging megachurches baptized an average of 6.6 people per 100 in attendance, down slightly from 6.8 in 2011.

Megachurches invested an average of $21,606 per baptism, based on general fund giving, and emerging megachurches spent 48 percent more per baptism—an average of $32,001.

 

WORSHIP

Fifty-nine percent of megachurches offered adult worship venues in more than one room or building, compared with 36 percent of emerging megachurches.

Almost half of the megachurches (48 percent) use a multi-site ministry model; the average number of locations is 3.7.

Only 24 percent of emerging megachurches use a multisite model, an average of 2.4 locations.

 

GIVING

Total income for the average megachurch was $7.25 million, a 6 percent increase over the year prior.

Total income for the average emerging megachurch was $2.3 million, a 5 percent increase over 2011.

General fund giving for megachurches increased an average of 10 percent per church, while such giving grew 22 percent at the average emerging megachurch.

Attendees of emerging megachurches gave more money per person per week than attendees of megachurches: $33.63 compared with $30.28.

Giving exceeded the budget at 53 percent of the megachurches and 46 percent of the emerging megachurches.

 

SPENDING

Ministry spending increased at 57 percent of the megachurches and 60 percent of the emerging megachurches from 2011 to 2012.

Almost half of all megachurch spending is for ministry staff (48.9 percent); ministry staff spending is slightly less at emerging megachurches (46.5 percent).

Megachurches invested 13 percent in outreach ministries, while emerging megachurches directed 13.4 percent to outreach.

 

DEBT

Average debt load for megachurches increased to $8.9 million, but that’s down from a peak of $9.7 million in 2009.

Average debt load for emerging megachurches dropped slightly to $4.3 million—the lowest in five years.

This means the average megachurch has $1,941 of debt per person (based on weekly average attendance), while emerging megachurches have an average per person debt load of $3,285.

Total estimated debt load for the megachurches is $534.1 million, compared with $265.4 million for emerging megachurches.

Three megachurches and six emerging megachurches reported being completely debt-free.

 

LOCATION

Megachurches are located in 18 states, while emerging megachurches are in 24 states.

California and Indiana have the most megachurches, with nine each; Ohio has the most emerging megachurches with nine.

Almost half of all attendees from the 344 churches surveyed attend worship in one of these states—Indiana, Kentucky, California, Illinois, and Arizona.

More key megachurch and emerging megachurch metrics are available in the 2012 Christian Church Report—Deluxe Edition (order item number 025611013 at www.standardpub.com).

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