Friday, July 15, 2005

The 50 Most Influential Churches in America

The Church Report, the resource for Christian leaders, pastors and para church executives, just released its issue containing the "Top 50 Most Influential Churches in America." I imagine all of you can name the top two.

Go ahead.

Try.

Time's UP!

The top two are 1) Saddleback Church (Rick Warren, Pastor) and 2) Willow Creek (Bill Hybels, Pastor). The magazine explained its work by saying:
The 2005 survey was sent to 2,000 church leaders with the goal of ranking the nation’s fastest growing churches and churches with more than 2,000 weekend attendance. The 127 churches nominated for the 50 Most Influential Churches survey were located in 32 states and represented 27 affiliation groups and/or denominations.
Some interesting stats:

Half of all recommendations centered around the two most frequently named churches: Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church. More than 75 percent of all participant recommendations centered around the top five churches: Saddleback; Willow Creek; North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA); Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX); and Lakewood Church (Houston, TX). Almost half of the top 50 churches, and seven of the top 10, are still led by the founding pastor.

Regionally, California led with 21 churches, followed by Texas with 13 churches and Georgia with nine churches. More than half of all the churches (84 churches) average 2,000 or more in weekend attendance, and 48 of those churches average 5,000 or more in attendance.

A statistical breakdown reveals the following denominational info:
14% Southern Baptist
12% Independent (charismatic)
12% Independent (non-charismatic)
10% Other Baptist
8% United Methodist
6% Episcopalian
38% Other: Independent Christian, Foursquare, Assemblies of God, COGIC, and Calvary Chapel

After reviewing the BIG TWO, the next several "top" churches include:

  1. Saddleback, Rick Warren, Lake Forest, California
  2. Willow Creek Community Church, Bill Hybels, South Barrington, Illinois
  3. Northpoint Church, Andy Stanley, Alpharetta Georgia
  4. Fellowship Church, Ed Young, Jr., Grapevine, Texas
  5. Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen, Houston, Texas
  6. Brooklyn Tabernacle, Jim Cymbala, Brooklyn, New York
  7. The Church of the Resurrection, Adam Hamilton, Leawood, Kansas
  8. The Potter's House, TD Jakes, Dallas, Texas
  9. Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Michael Slaughter, Tipp City, Ohio
  10. New Life Church, Ted Haggard, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Other churches/pastors of interest include:

12. Leith Anderson, Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
14. Robert Shuller, Crystal Cathedral Congregation, Garden Grove, California
19. John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
22. Charles Stanley, First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia
28. Jerry Falwell, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia
33. Ed Young, Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
38. D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
39. Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, California
50. Bob Russell, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Churches that somehow missed the cut: Grace Community Church (John MacArthur); First Baptist Church Jacksonville (Jerry Vines); Prestonwood (Jack Graham) and Western Avenue.

It appears the best way to make the cut in this list is to hold an annual meeting of some kind on your church property. Here's some revealing information from the article:
Churches receiving the highest number of recommendations tend to be churches that offer conferences that share leadership, organizational, staffing and ministry principles, priorities and procedures with other church leaders. Eighteen of the 20 most frequently listed churches have at least one annual conference.
Of course, a great problem is our infatuation with size. I think the smallest church on this list averages a couple thousand. There are hundreds and hundreds of "influential" churches all across the country that are ignored because they only reach a few hundred or fewer people each week. It is good to know that the Lord knows of their work!

1 comment:

Bruce Roberts said...

Hey, we Charismatics are just 2% behind you Southern Baptists. Actually, we may be ahead, because we can count Foursquare, & Assemblies of God as Charismatic.