Church Attendance Down, But Megachurches Pulling ‘Em In

An estimated four in ten people say they attend church, according to a Gallup Poll. However, many people fib about that. Or rather, it depends on how the question is asked. One thing is for sure, megachurches are drawing people in.

Virginia has 42 megachurches, while Maryland has 37. Most of those are unaffiliated with a formal religious group, and they’re mainly around big cities rather than the more rural Chesapeake Bay region. The Hart Institute for Religious Research has put together a database of megachurches in the U.S.

It rates a church as “mega” if it has a weekly attendance of more than 2,000 regular worshipers. Across the country, 1668 churches fit into that category, according to the Hart Institute.

Vox.com’s datajournalist Jishai Evers made this map breaking it down by state:

Vox.com mega churches map
Vox.com map of mega churches in the U.S.

While most churches have an average attendance of about 100 each Sunday, ‘mega’s’ are pulling in thousands. Why megachurches? Charismatic pastors are a bigger draw than type of religion or tradition, according to researchers.

The biggest megachurch is in Houston, Texas with 43,500 at last count by the Hart Institute. The largest in the Maryland/Virginia area is McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia — a non-denominational church — with 16,500 members (#23 on the Hartford list). In Maryland, it’s the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover with 12,000 members (#57 on the list).

 

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