Faithlife Corporation

Goers to magachurches

Notes & Transcripts

-Goers: Younger, Wealthier and Miserly

According to a new study released this week, Protestant megachurches attract a younger crowd and more singles than the average Protestant church and their attendees are less likely to volunteer and to give financially.

The large-scale study was conducted by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary and the Leadership Network of nearly 25,000 people who attend 12 U.S. megachurches. An estimated 50 million Americans per week attend roughly 1,300 U.S. megachurches, defined in the study as Protestant churches with attendance of 2,000 or more. Highlights from the report include:

·         The average age of a megachurch attendee is 40, compared to nearly 53 at a typical Protestant church.

·         Nearly a third of megachurch attendees are single, compared to 10 percent in a typical Protestant church. They are also wealthier and better educated.

·         Nearly all those surveyed — 98 percent, including visitors — described themselves as "committed followers of Jesus Christ." Nearly a quarter hadn't been in any church for a long time before coming to the megachurch.

·         Sixty-two percent of megachurch attendees said they had experienced much spiritual growth in the past year. Nearly 45 percent of megachurch attendees, however, never volunteer at the church and 32 percent give little or no money to the congregation.

"The ethos of the megachurch is to say, 'You can't just sit there and spectate. That's not enough. You've got to do this or do that," said study co-director Scott Thumma, a sociologist at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. "But a lot of people said, 'I'm perfectly happy coming here and doing that.'"

Divided loyalties also might play a role: just three-quarters described the megachurch they were attending as their "home" church, and many said they were attending more than one church.

Thumma said the findings don't necessarily mean that megachurches fail to foster involvement. The study found that significant numbers of even the least involved participants still give generously, have invited others to church and attend services weekly. []

Taken from The Pastor's Weekly Briefing (June 12, 2009)

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