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A national study released late last year by the Leadership Network, in partnership with the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Hartford Seminary, detailed the consistencies and changes among some 1,200 megachurches in the U.S. Observing patterns across three national surveys completed in 2000, 2005 and 2008, the researchers found that megachurches—defined as Protestant congregations drawing 2,000 or more adults and children in typical weekend attendance—continue to grow in size and “lead the way as America’s most multi-ethnic class of church.”

Prominent among the findings was the discovery that almost 90 percent of megachurches are growing. The average growth rate over five years, the study reported, is an approximate 50 percent increase in attendance, with only just over 10 percent of the congregations stagnating or declining.

Key among the changes through the last several years was that 73 percent of megachurches stated that community service activities were given prominent emphasis or were a specialty of the church. Church planting also rose—from 68 percent of congregations in 2000 helping to plant other churches to 77 percent in 2008.

When it comes to finances, approximately 50 percent of income in megachurches went to salaries, the report said. One quarter went to buildings, and another quarter to missions works and other programs. Researches also found that megachurches “remain minimally involved in politics” and are “putting greater emphasis on the role of small groups.”

For more information on this and other studies, visit

is a credentialed minister and freelance editor living in Sacramento, Calif.

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