The Megachurch Boom Rolls On, But Concerns Are Growing Too

Image via Leadership Network / RNS

Change is coming to American megachurches — those behemoths for believers that now dot the religious landscape.

There are more participants in megachurch worship than ever.

“Last weekend 1 in 10 adults and children who went to a Protestant church went to a megachurch — about 5 million people,” said Warren Bird, director of research for Leadership Network and co-author of a megachurch study released Dec. 2.

But individual attendance is down to once or twice a month — or less.

Big Churches, Big Bucks: Southern Senior Pastors Take Top Salaries

“Church Size Is By Far The Strongest Predictor of Large church Senior Pastor Salaries,” graphic via Leadership Network/RNS.

Large churches in the South tend to pay their senior pastors the highest salaries, a new survey finds.

That’s one of the conclusions on churches and finances released Sept. 9 by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based church think tank, and the Vanderbloemen Search Group, a Houston-based executive search firm for churches and ministries. A total of 727 North American churches with attendance ranging from 1,000 to more than 30,000 answered questions, more than double the number of congregations featured in previous studies.

The survey found that 14 percent of large churches have a financial bonus structure for their top leader. And one in five of the big congregations find ways to collect their money other than passing the proverbial offering plate.

Megachurches Meet on Immigration

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform a Sojourners supported project hosted a dialogue in March with 40 Latino and Anglo evangelical pastors at Iglesia El Calvario, a 5,000-member Latino Pen­te­costal church in Orlando, Flor­ida. Restoration Christ­ian Center Pas­tor Tommy Moya and Joel Hunter, leader of 12,000-member Northland evangelical church, gave testimonies on how the church should respond to immigration issues, including the biblical teachings of welcome, challenging opinions that are shaped more by political views than religious ones, and addressing the ignorance in many Anglo churches about the experiences of Latino pastors and congregations.

“We have undocumented breth­ren in our congregations. We mingle daily with housekeepers, construction workers, elderly caregivers, and maintenance and agricultural workers who, other than for their lack of immigration documents, are law-abiding, tax-paying, loving family members,” Rosa C. Prieto told Sojourners. Prie­to is from Esperanza USA, the largest Latino faith-based community development corporation in the country. “I hope that this marriage of Christians across language and creed will continue and reach the media to start turning around public perception and opinion.” Bishop Thomas Wen­ski, the Catholic bishop of Orlando, also attended.

Click Here for a video from CCIR on churches and immigration.

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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