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General Interest

Churches with Attendance of 500-1,799 Represent 40% of Protestant Churchgoers

By January 11, 2016 No Comments

by Warren Bird













A disproportionate amount of media coverage goes to megachurches — those congregations that draw 2,000 or more adults and children weekly. But what about those churches are slightly less large — from 500 up? New research profiles those churches, a largely understudied group, but one that represents about 40% of Protestant churchgoers.

The free report has just been released at this link. Written by megachurch scholar Scott Thumma, Ph.D. (and I served as co-researcher on the project), it includes these significant findings about churches in the 500-1,799 attendance range:

  • Just over two thirds of the weekly attenders are under age 50
  • Over a third of these churches are multiracial
  • Multisite churches are growing at a far faster rate than single-site churches
  • Seemingly less importance is placed on denominational connections with an intentional migration out of denominations
  • At least three-quarters report the use of small groups as central to their spiritual formation strategy
  • Nearly 7 out of 10 churches are under the leadership of the senior pastor under whose tenure the most dramatic growth occurred
  • Nearly 7 out of 10 offer a formal internship program


Please take a look and give us your thoughts. What most surprises you in the findings? If you’d like to see other research on large churches, check out all the free downloads at www.leadnet.org/megachurch.


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Warren Bird

Author Warren Bird

Warren Bird, Ph.D. has been named a Leadership Network Senior Fellow in light of his exemplary service 2006-2018 as Director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development at Leadership Network. He serves as full-time VP of Research for ECFA.org (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). An ordained minister with background as both a pastor and seminary professor, Warren is an award-winning author or co-author of 31 books for ministry leaders including Hero Maker with Dave Ferguson, How to Break Church Growth Barriers with Carl George, and Next: Pastoral Succession that Works with William Vanderbloemen. Other recent titles are Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work with Jim Tomberlin, and Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller. Some of Warren’s recent online reports include "Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard," and "The Heartbeat of Rising Influence Churches." See also research reports at leadnet.org/megachurchleadnet.org/salary and leadnet.org/portable. He is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading researchers of megachurches, multisite churches, large church compensation and high-visibility pastoral succession. He also oversees the world's only active, sortable list of global megachurches. Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird.  Click here to subscribe to Leadership Network Advance to get updates from Leadership Network.

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