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Lakewood Tops List of Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches
The Gospel Herald ^ | Aug. 31, 2006 | Lillian Kwon

Posted on 09/01/2006 7:02:04 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

Lakewood Church in Houston is the fastest-growing U.S. church, according to Outreach Magazine's 2006 church growth study.

In 2005, Lakewood, led by Joel Osteen, gained a total of 12,000 members. The annual report listed the top 100 fastest growing churches in America, including 52 new churches and 48 returning from last year's list.

Texas was the most represented state with 19 churches featured in the top 100. Lakewood jumped from the third to the top spot this year and was followed by Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas which gained 5,018 people in the past year. New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.; Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, Ill.; and Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla., were placed in the top five, respectively. Second to Texas were California, Florida and Georgia, each having eight churches represented.

Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with bestselling author Rick Warren took a plunge down from number five to number thirty-nine. New membership gains in the past year dropped by nearly 1,500 people to 1,149. Willow Creek Community Church, the most influential church in America, according to The Church Report, rose from the 30th rank to the eighth with a gain of 2,900 in 2005. The Potter's House with Bishop T.D. Jakes was listed at number 25. The Dallas megachurch did not place in the top 100 last year.

Churches from 30 different states were represented as the fastest-growing churches in the nation this year, many of which were Southern Baptist (27). Other denominations represented were the Independent, Independent charismatic, Christian Church/Churches of Christ and Assemblies of God churches.

The report noted that 40 churches appear on both the top 100 largest and fastest-growing lists. Also, the majority of the churches were white, followed by African America, multi-ethnic and Asian (Korean).

On another note, one out of ten of the 1,000-plus U.S. megachurches are less than 10 years old.

Outreach's annual report uses self-reported data. The reports are provided by Dr. John N. Vaughan, president and founder of Church Growth Today, who specializes in research related to megachurches both domestically and globally.

For a complete list, visit www.outreachmagazine.com.


TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: christians; houston; joelosteen; lakewood; megachurch; osteen; topten
Considering that many of these churches do not have formal "membership" rolls, but instead base their growth on simple attendance, one has to wonder if "growth" is actually occuring.
1 posted on 09/01/2006 7:02:05 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: WKB

Might be worth a baptist ping.


2 posted on 09/01/2006 7:17:34 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: Alex Murphy
I shouldn't criticize, but I've never been overly fond of the 'megachurch' phenomenon or, frankly, some of the teaching that comes out of them. It almost has the feel of some kind of a fashion fad, except for theology instead of clothes. Maybe I'm off base here, it's just how I see it. There's too much emphasis on this corporate style church leadership, and I don't know how good that is for a church in general. I also don't care for the fact that I can go to a lot of these smaller churches modeled on churches like Lakewood and hear teaching from a myriad of books, most of which aren't necessarily bad books, moreso sometimes than I hear it from the Bible.

One of the things I love about my church is that when my pastor preaches, he preaches from the Word, 100% of the time.
3 posted on 09/01/2006 7:22:31 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: Alex Murphy
I've watched Osteen a few times and I've likened it to listening to self-help, motivational speakers. Most of my friends who also subscribe to the "Gospel of Oprah" are regular Osteen watchers.

CC&E

4 posted on 09/01/2006 7:28:37 AM PDT by Calm_Cool_and_Elected (Coming soon: A great new tag line!)
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To: JamesP81
There's too much emphasis on this corporate style church leadership, and I don't know how good that is for a church in general.

I agree wholeheartedly. Churches should not be run like businesses. Members should not be treated (or courted) like customers.

5 posted on 09/01/2006 7:57:10 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Colossians 2:6)
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To: JamesP81; tutstar; somniferum; WKUHilltopper; DieHard the Hunter; NZerFromHK; Miss Maam; ...

FWIW Baptist ping


6 posted on 09/01/2006 8:24:55 AM PDT by WKB
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To: Alex Murphy
Considering that many of these churches do not have formal "membership" rolls, but instead base their growth on simple attendance, one has to wonder if "growth" is actually occuring.

I think attendance is probably a better measurement than membership rolls. Churches are very reluctant to remove you from membership, even if they haven't seen you in ten years.

7 posted on 09/01/2006 8:27:18 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: JamesP81
We attend Bellvue Baptist in Memphis. A mega mega church.

The pastor preaches the Word.

Maybe because there are so many small groups that one can belong to it does not feel all that large.

Also, Memphis is a "small town" where if you have lived any length of time at all you know tons of people and most are related to someone that you know.
8 posted on 09/01/2006 9:18:21 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: JamesP81
Maybe I'm off base here, it's just how I see it.

You aren't off base at all. Be extra thankful for your church. A Scripture driven church is more rare than you might think. And don't apologize for being discerning. It's important that people speak up. You maintain the right tone while you share your concerns. It's hard, because really we are justified in being appalled at some of the nonsense going on. But if we are angry, no one listens to us. So I think you have a great attitude. Just don't think yourself off base. You are right on target.

9 posted on 09/01/2006 9:34:51 AM PDT by The Ghost of FReepers Past (Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light..... Isaiah 5:20)
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To: mariabush

I wondered how that worked. So you have small churches in your large church?


10 posted on 09/01/2006 9:36:26 AM PDT by CindyDawg
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To: Alex Murphy

Mine gained 1.8 million. :^D (*snark*)


11 posted on 09/01/2006 9:46:29 AM PDT by dangus
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To: CindyDawg
All Sunday School classes have large groups and then within those groups are small groups. That way everyone gets ministered to and doesn't get lost in the crowd.

I was raised in small So. Baptist churches in So. Calif. I absolutely love the big church.

We are really self contained. Sports or whatever your need or hobby you do not have to go into the secular community.

I know a lot of people think that this is sheltering your children from the world, but not so, because there is plenty of opportunities to get out there and help in neighbor hood VBS or other community services.

My Granddaughter who has spent her entire 22 years in this church, is now teaching English in the Intercity to high schoolers.
12 posted on 09/01/2006 9:51:54 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: Alex Murphy
Park Cities, as a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)has strong membership requirements so their numbers are accurate, not inflated.
13 posted on 09/01/2006 9:55:25 AM PDT by AZhardliner
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To: Alex Murphy
Osteen is on the Discovery Channel for a half hour Sunday morning. It's a good message. I bet this article is accurate.
14 posted on 09/01/2006 10:03:07 AM PDT by Vision (God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline 2Timothy1)
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To: mariabush
I go to a small church as in 20 or less sometimes. I left and went to a bigger church , maybe 200 or so. I didn't fit in though so I came back. The ironic thing was that no one at the bigger church called or checked on me when I left but people at the smaller church had been during the time I was gone and I was shamed at how welcomed and happy they seemed when I came back. I was just wondering how mega church pastors could be shepherds. By the way. I agree about sheltering our kids and socializing among Christians. Yall must be super-organized to pull it off though.
15 posted on 09/01/2006 10:05:26 AM PDT by CindyDawg
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To: mariabush
Maybe because there are so many small groups that one can belong to it does not feel all that large.

The thing that concerns me about this is you still have problems getting one on one pastoral care. I understand that whoever is in your small group is tasked with pastoral duties, but I think this system bumps into one simple, natural fact of the Church as God created it: that fact is that the buck stops somewhere, and that somewhere is with the pastor. There are times when I need to discuss things with the pastor, not the assistant pastor, or the youth pastor, or a small group leader, but the pastor. That's going to be hard to do in such a large church. Personally, I don't see how my pastor does it considering we have a weekly sunday attendance of something like 1800, and that's huge for our area. In fact, the population of the town the church is in is only 400 and the nearest 'major' town, about 12 miles away, is only 15,000.
16 posted on 09/01/2006 10:37:15 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: JamesP81
The thing that concerns me about this is you still have problems getting one on one pastoral care. < snip > ... the Church as God created it: that fact is that the buck stops somewhere, and that somewhere is with the pastor.

Oh, but the church "as God created it" was started by Jesus, who appointed disciples to go out and make more disciples. We (the church) were "created" to go out and preach the Gospel, make disciples (so that they can go out and preach the gospel), and serve the lost and dying world with Christ's love.

Our pastor just did an excellent 'sermon' on the model of todays institutional churches vs the biblical model for the church.

In many churches today, church leadership is busy 'serving' the congregation, trying to make them happy, etc.. and the congregation is busy being served, and the world is forgotten. A congregation that is constantly being 'served' instead of 'serving' doesn't mature.

The biblical model is for leadership to, well, LEAD .. and the congregation can mature and then SERVE. Who does the congregation serve? The world.

Isn't this what we are supposed to be doing .. reaching the lost and dying world for Jesus?

True, ultimately, the buck stops with the pastor .. and he is accountable to God. This is why it is so important for him to lead and disciple his congregation so that they can go out and serve, not only the world, but those coming into the fold.

When the disciples ministered to people, I wonder how many missed their blessing or healing because they wanted to get to the "big guy" instead?

Having said that, I'm not speaking out against your need to seek one on one pastoral care. ONly pointing out that in a large body, there is more than one person who can give you that care, and many times, better than the pastor. (For they are called into that ministry.)

God Bless.

17 posted on 09/01/2006 11:13:32 AM PDT by proud_2_B_texasgal
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To: Calm_Cool_and_Elected

Osteen never preaches from the Bible. They do a little chant with the Bible then his talk is so set up for camera angles it is meaningless. I hope that this is just the TV version and that their Sunday School classes do use the Bible. And what is with the Globe thing in the background. His wife is also too made up.


18 posted on 09/03/2006 12:40:09 AM PDT by therut
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To: CindyDawg
I was just wondering how mega church pastors could be shepherds.

They aren't. In a church of thousands, the pastor knows very few of the parishoners. Instead, your sunday school or small group leader becomes your de-fact pastor and the Sunday service becomes like a christian conference where members of multiple churches gather to hear a speaker.
19 posted on 09/03/2006 12:47:20 AM PDT by Old_Mil (http://www.constitutionparty.org - Forging a Rebirth of Freedom.)
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To: Alex Murphy

The mega churches are worse than circuses. Worse.


20 posted on 09/05/2006 1:13:35 PM PDT by MayflowerMadam
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To: mariabush

Second Baptist, here in Houston, is up to FIVE campuses now.


21 posted on 09/05/2006 1:59:25 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: JamesP81; dangus

At MY church, the pastors work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


22 posted on 09/05/2006 2:02:20 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: proud_2_B_texasgal
ONly pointing out that in a large body, there is more than one person who can give you that care, and many times, better than the pastor. (For they are called into that ministry.)

Or, you can get some well meaning soul for whom it's more about their need to help you than it is whether you are ultimately helped or not.

Then there's the trap of asking for help and being told you need to get busy and help somebody else. Only later do you realize sometimes you need to minister, sometimes to receive it.

23 posted on 09/05/2006 2:04:31 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: therut

I don't know about the globe thing, cuz I don't watch Joel any more, but his Joel Osteen Ministries logo on the outside has crescents in it.


24 posted on 09/05/2006 2:05:36 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: MayflowerMadam

Jesus Malls. One of the earlier posters admitted it, you never have to go anywhere else.


25 posted on 09/05/2006 2:06:26 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: Alex Murphy
Just think, Alex, if we ever go to a theonomy, Lakewood will be electing our representatives, Osteen will be president and criticism of his teachings will be blasphemy. Sure you don't wanna just be happy with a more-or-less laissez-faire constitutional republic? :-)
26 posted on 09/05/2006 2:11:37 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Alex Murphy
In 2005, Lakewood, led by Joel Osteen, gained a total of 12,000 members.

He doesn't have a congregation, he has an audience.

27 posted on 09/05/2006 2:11:51 PM PDT by aomagrat (Just when you think you have it made in the shade, the tree falls on you.)
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To: ichabod1

"Jesus saves at the Jesus Mall. You can too!"


28 posted on 09/05/2006 2:12:26 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: MayflowerMadam
The mega churches are worse than circuses. Worse.

All of them?


29 posted on 09/05/2006 2:18:24 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: ichabod1
Or, you can get some well meaning soul for whom it's more about their need to help you than it is whether you are ultimately helped or not.

And sometimes that person IS your pastor ....

Listen, I'm not here to argue with you, and I don't go to a mega church, and you can get bad/or no ministering to at all kinds of churches.

I think we just need to plug into Jesus, read the Word, pray pray pray, and listen to the HOly Spirit, and be obedient....

I've disregarded 'advise' before because of a check in my spirit, and I've received awesome words from people at the most unique times.

Walk your own walk, don't depend on others, seek God first, He'll lead ya right where you're supposed to be.

God Bless

30 posted on 09/05/2006 3:35:41 PM PDT by proud_2_B_texasgal
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To: ichabod1

Why in the world would you call yourself ichabod????


31 posted on 09/05/2006 3:54:28 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: mariabush

Ichabod: "The Glory of the Lord Hath Gone Out Of Israel"

I chose it in a moment of extreme discouragement about Israel.


32 posted on 09/05/2006 8:14:14 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: ichabod1

That's a relief. I knew what Ichabod meant, and I thought that you had chosen that for you personally. That's what happens when you think!


33 posted on 09/06/2006 2:54:49 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: Alex Murphy
Ah yes.....the "numbers game".

Unfortunately, "growth" in the spiritual life is not measured by butts on seats. It's measured by the fruit which the Word produces in the daily lives of its listeners.

The true Gospel is spread in obscurity one person at a time, away from the glare of TV lights and instigated by example.

34 posted on 09/06/2006 5:39:08 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: mariabush

Thanks for asking... ;o)


35 posted on 09/06/2006 11:34:29 AM PDT by ichabod1 (Freedom of religion means freedom to practice IslamŽ)
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To: ichabod1

Second is the best. Scriptural teaching at its finest.


Red meat every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening. Ok....so I go to church alot.


36 posted on 11/28/2006 1:17:58 PM PST by TexanToTheCore (This space for hire...)
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To: JamesP81

"The thing that concerns me about this is you still have problems getting one on one pastoral care."

At my Giga church I know the head guy, he knows me and my wife. Most large churches have many pastors who give pastoral care. I know a dozen pastors from my church and they know me, my phone number, my email address and what ministries I am involved in. If I have a need for personal pastoral care, I know who to call and they swing into action.

If I find that someone else needs that care, I make a call and people and resources are put into motion. In many ways, this is the first church I have ever belonged to in which help was immediately available to just the average parishioner.

I alos get buttonholed for projects that they need done.

A church full of Christian activists.

Second Rocks!


37 posted on 11/28/2006 1:31:15 PM PST by TexanToTheCore (This space for hire...)
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To: JamesP81
I know this is an old thread, but I saw it off of another thread.

I go to a fairly large church with several thousand members. No, I don't get a lot of personal attention from the teaching pastors, but between my small group leader, the singles pastor, the women's ministry staff, the shepherding elders who are over the singles and young married ministries, and the pastors over the ministries that I serve in, there are plenty of people I can and have gone to if I have questions or problems. When my dad was hospitalized, these the singles pastor, my small group members, and the guy who is in charge of the main ministry I've served in for a long time were who showed up and were there for me.

I like our main pastor a lot. I just know he has a lot on his plate, so I go to these other people. These are Godly people. Some of them are lay people and some of them are seminary trained.

Frankly, in my case, I grew up in a small Baptist church and the singles out of college just plain didn't fit in when I was growing up. There were never very many of them and all of the church activities were centered around families (which made sense...the vast majority of the members were young families and older empty nesters).

Going to a large church means that by sheer numbers, there are enough singles to have a good singles ministry. My small group is all young single women, so we all have similar struggles, are going through similar experiences, and (frankly) have compatible schedules. It works well. I still get to be around families and married people for some stuff, but sometimes it's nice to be around people who understand where you're coming from. The Bible studies during those groups can talk about some of the struggles of being single in addition to the regular stuff. Being in a large church opens up that opportunity.

That's just my experience.
38 posted on 12/14/2006 2:42:46 PM PST by ark_girl
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