Click here to access the internet’s most complete, current and sortable list of the world’s largest-attendance churches. This global list is growing weekly — especially with help from people like you! You can sort it by continent, country, city, church size, pastor name, pastor birth year, year pastor started, year the church was founded, theological family, whether it’s multisite, whether it has branches in the United States, and more. You will also see a growing number of links to photos and videos from each church.
I’ve been researching global megachurches since 1991, contributing to a North American megachurch list (click here to open it) of U.S. and Canadian churches since 2006, and posting this global version online since 2010. I’m the first to quickly acknowledge that it’s a nearly impossible task without help from readers like you around the world who are warmly invited to offer suggestions, additions and corrections. Please contact me, Warren Bird, Ph.D., at DrBirdAssistant@gmail.com.
The list is not based on membership, ministry impact, seating capacity, building size, media reach or even number people who call the church “home,” but on actual weekly worship attendance — adults and children, all services, all physical campuses on an average weekend for the year, not counting anyone twice. It is limited to Protestant congregations. Multisite churches are counted as part of one congregation if they are all under the same leader and governance, adhere to the same doctrine, identify together under a similar name or association, and share finances at some level.
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Feel free also to publicize or cite this listing, crediting this shortcut link: http://Leadnet.org/world. Also if you’d like to receive news and information on resources of interest for leaders of growing churches, please subscribe to Leadership Network’s free e-newsletter: Leadership Network Advance.
Over 75 countries are currently represented on the list, including small-population ones like Fiji and Latvia. When this list gets fully populated, will every country be shown to have at least one megachurch? Definitely not. The largest-attendance Protestant church in Iceland is less than 500 people. In some countries like Vietnam, individual churches are not legally allowed to grow to megachurch size.
People sometimes ask how I get information that goes on our global list. Sources include email correspondence both with the churches and those who have visited or studied them. I also study the church websites along with newspaper or Internet articles about the churches, often with help from the Google Chrome’s Translate function; today alone I’ve used it to translate from Hungarian, German, Spanish, Malay, and Portuguese. I especially reach out to scholars of religion in the same country as the church in question. Sadly, many countries on this list are still way underrepresented–India, Brazil, Philippines and Nigeria–to name a few
My favorite way of learning is to visit these congregations in person, chat with their people, tour their campus, and interview the senior pastor. Over recent years I’ve had the privilege of visiting the largest church in many countries ranging from Korea, China and Singapore toand United Kingdom. It’s exciting to find thriving churches from Hungary to The Netherlands, from Kenya to Australia. I’m hoping next for an invitation from some of the amazingly large churches in Brazil, the Philippines and Nigeria!
Scholars might be interested that work on the North American list of large churches began in 1984 when Leadership Network hired someone who had just written a doctoral dissertation on large churches to compile our initial list. Since then we’ve built and updated our database through annual denominational lists, other public lists like those in the Outreach “Top 100” issue, numerous research projects and site visits (by a wide variety of organizations), extensive use of “Google Alerts,” and ongoing referrals by pastors and consultants.
Why Is a List Like This Important?
1. Accurate data allows us to see the larger picture of what God seems to be doing. For starters, you’ll observe that the world’s biggest churches are not in the United States (and further, the United States did not even start the trend of megachurches). You’ll also see which countries have the newer growth of larger churches (and as this list grows, I’m convinced that we’ll document that there are far more megachurches outside the United States than in it). As one example, India today has more believers than at any time in its 4,000-year history, and as my list populates, I suspect we’ll find a growing number of megachurches there. You can explore everything from average pastor age to the likelihood level of Pentecostal/charismatic theology in these large churches.
2. Churches on this list tend to be innovators and entrepreneurs. This ranges from how they use technology to how they impact their communities for Christ. For example, by visiting the websites of these churches, reading their mission and vision statements, and perusing the ministries they list, you can sense the heartbeat and future directions of these pacesetters.
3. A list like this invites a level playing field for helpful conversation about global movers and shakers. For good or bad, larger churches are influential, both in their communities and also in influencing other churches. For example, a pastor in one country helped me improve the list for his region by sending his church planters in training and other apprentice pastors to visit a bunch of churches that everyone thought were the country’s largest. They did a nose count of all weekend worship services at each of these churches. “Before this project we thought we were just a small player in reaching our city,” the pastor told me. “But the churches we thought were really big turned out to be about the same size as us. So that means our responsibility in reaching our city for Christ is larger than we had previously thought.”
4. It also helps churches who are listed to network with each other. Larger churches have more in common by size (attendance and/or budget) than by most other factors. People always like to know who their peers are, and they’re often stretched by hanging out with their peers.
5. This list serves as a starting point for additional research. The possibilities are innumerable. I welcome you to contact me with your ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Washington Post, for example, used the global megachurches list to make five fascinating visualizations. Here’s one of their graphics:
FAQs about North American Megachurches
Here are links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for North America’s largest churches:
– NOTE: If you have other questions, please submit them to email@example.com
– Global megachurches: For scholarly analysis of why megachurches flourish in some places around the world and not in others, see Scott Thumma and Warren Bird, “Megafaith for the Megacity: The Global Megachurch Phenomenon” chapter 123 in Stanley Brunn, ed., The Changing World Religion Map, Springer, 2015.
Megachurch World Profiles from Outreach Magazine
Here is a series of articles I wrote for Outreach magazine, each profiling a megachurch in a different country. Each addresses the general question, “What can North American churches learn from large-church models around the world that are successfully and systematically reaching people with the Gospel?”
- What Can We Learn from the International Church?
- If Here, Then Anywhere? Bethel Church, Netherlands
- Something New Is Happening in the Australian Church (not yet available online)
- Why So Many Megachurches in Korea?
- Learning from Our Neighbors to the North in Canada
- Staff Swapping across the Globe: International Partnerships Benefit both Kenyan and U.S. Churches
- Play, Plan, Coach, Grow: Elim Christian Mission in El Salvador
- Philippines: Victory Megachurch Building on Discipleship
- “We Are a Church that Keeps Learning”: Lessons from a 40,000-Person Church in India
- How Larger United Kingdom Churches Sometimes Inspire Bolder Dreams in Other Churches
- Pastoral Succession in Global Megachurches: Six Models from China to Brazil
- Is the Nigerian Megachurch with 50,000 Seats the World’s Biggest?
- A Thriving New Zealand Church of University Students
- Dreaming Large in South Africa
- The Multisite Movement Goes Global with Hillsong in Australia and Other Places
- Multiplying Global-Minded Leadership through Residencies from Kenya to the US
- Six Languages, Six Services, All in One Church – Kuwait and Kuala Lumpur
- Peru Church Targets Young People and Their Families, Reaps Big Harvest
- Forefront of Racial Reconciliation: A South Africa Church Pursues a Multicultural Vision
- Japan Church Opens Doors by Talking about a Personal God
- Transforming Bolivia One Conversation at a Time
- What Can We Learn from Children’s Ministry in Ecuador?
- How This New Zealand Church Develops a Passion for Growth