Home > Numbers > Thomas Road Baptist Church 18th largest in America

Thomas Road Baptist Church 18th largest in America

We’d like to congratulate Thomas Road Baptist Church for being the 18th largest church in America according to Outreach Magazine and LifeWay Research [link] [PDF].

The numbers in this list are probably soft, but they’re interesting anyway. They’re based on self-reported February and March attendance numbers from 8000 churches contacted by Ed Stetzer, so there’s a chance they’re inflated, rounded off, what-have-you, and I suppose there’s a small chance there’s a secret megachurch out there somewhere that missed Stetzer’s net altogether. I doubt it.

Fun facts include the following:

  • More than a million people attend the top 100 churches; note that this is not the same as saying “a million people attend megachurches in America.” The smallest on the list reported more than 5500 people attending, and the cutoff for megachurch status is currently 2000. According to the Hartford Institute people, who monitor this latter question, there are more than 1300 churches meeting this standard, meaning that more than three million people attend megachurches.
  • There are eight highlighted churches with ten or more locations; one (Brentwood Baptist, in Tennessee) has 27.
  • A significant plurality of the fastest-growing churches do not have a denomination in their name; I really have no idea what this means, but I suspect it’s the result of careful research.

I would like to congratulate Thomas Road for not being on the fastest-growing list. Lynchburg boasts something like 60 Baptist churches, and I’d guess three times that many non-Baptist churches, this in a metropolitan area of about a quarter of a million people [link]. Reaching the unchurched is probably a task better shared by 240 churches than dominated by one.

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