“They think ‘regular attendance’ is ‘I get there when I can,'” Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and the study’s other co-author, said. “We found many of these large, successful congregations still have many of the same challenges of smaller congregations. They are not immune to the cultural dynamics in society.”
A new study that focuses on trends and shifts among megachurches in the United States has found that although more Americans than ever are attending megachurches, megachurch worshipers are attending church less frequently.
On Tuesday, the Hartford Institute and the Leadership Network released a survey on “Recent Shifts in America’s Largest Protestant Churches,” which was funded by the Beck Group. Although the survey finds that megachurches continue to grow and expand across the U.S., there are some troubling trends within the megachurch phenomenon.
The survey, which is conducted every five years since 2000, is based off of 209 American Protestant churches that have a congregation of 1,800 or more members.
According to the survey, over 71 percent of megachurches surveyed said they experienced a growth in their average attendance of 10 percent or more in the last five years.
From 2009 to 2014, 39 percent of megachurches said their attendance grew anywhere from 10 to 49 percent. Nineteen percent of megachurches said their attendance grew anywhere from 50 to 99 percent, while 13 percent of megachurches said their attendance numbers grew 100 percent or more in the last five years.
Additionally, Only 11 percent of megachurches suffered a declining attendance of -2 percent or more in the last five years.
“Last weekend one in 10 adults and children who went to a Protestant church went to a megachurch — about 5 million people,” Warren Bird, director of research for Leadership Network and co-author of the study, told the Religion News Service.
Although the survey finds that general attendance numbers in a strong majority of megachurches are growing, the research also finds that weekly megachurch attendance numbers are dropping.