A megachurch is a church having 2,000 or more in average weekend attendance. The Hartford Institute's database lists more than 1,300 such Protestant churches in the United States. According to that data, approximately 50 churches on the list have attendance ranging from 10,000 to 47,000. While 3,000 individual Catholic parishes (churches) have 2,000 or more attendants for an average Sunday Mass, these churches are not seen as part of the megachurch movement.

Globally, these large congregations are a significant development in Protestant Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. While generally associated with the United States, the phenomenon has spread worldwide. In 2007, five of the ten largest Protestant churches were in South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

. Most megachurches tend to be evangelical
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 or Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

, and are often semi-independent from the major Christian denomination
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...



The megachurch movement, with a large number of local congregants who return on a weekly basis, is usually thought to have begun in the 1950s. There have been large churches earlier in history, but they were considerably rarer. Examples include Charles Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a large British Particular Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the "Prince of Preachers"...

's Baptist Metropolitan Tabernacle
Metropolitan Tabernacle
The Metropolitan Tabernacle is a large Reformed Baptist church in the Elephant and Castle in London. It was the largest non-conformist church edifice of its day in 1861. The Tabernacle Fellowship have been worshipping together since 1650, soon after the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers...

 in London which attracted 5,000 weekly for years in the late 19th century, and religious broadcaster
Televangelism is the use of television to communicate the Christian faith. The word is a portmanteau of television and evangelism and was coined by Time magazine. A “televangelist” is a Christian minister who devotes a large portion of his ministry to television broadcasting...

 Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson , also known as Sister Aimee, was a Canadian-American Los Angeles, California evangelist and media celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s. She founded the Foursquare Church...

's Angelus Temple
Angelus Temple
Angelus Temple was the central house of worship of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles, California....

 in Los Angeles, which was similarly large. The current largest megachurch in the world is South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

's Yoido Full Gospel Church
Yoido Full Gospel Church
Yoido Full Gospel Church is a Pentecostal church on Yeouido in Seoul, South Korea. With about 1,000,000 members , it is the largest Pentecostal Christian congregation in South Korea, and the world...

, with more than 830,000 members as of 2007. The advent of television in the 1950s, and the Internet in the 1990s and 2000s have been seen as a motivator for mega churches as megachurch services are often broadcast.


A common criticism of megachurches is that they draw members away from other churches. This has led to use of the derisive term, "big box churches". The majority of North American church-goers attend small churches of fewer than 200 members.

Critics of megachurches claim that such churches are more concerned with entertainment than religion. Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton
Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. is an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and television/radio talk show host. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election...

 has claimed that such churches focus on personal morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 issues while ignoring social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...


Critics have also raised issues with the application of secular business models, e.g., from Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

; a seeker-friendly approach, intensive market research, heavy reliance upon opinion polls, polished advertising targeted at affluent young professionals, unconventional worship styles and Eastern influences.

Some megachurches, such as the Christian Open Door, are sometimes criticized by former members and anti-cult associations for an alleged use of cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

ic practices. A number of pastors of megachurch have also faced allegations of sex- and drug-related crimes. These include but are not limited to Ted Haggard
Ted Haggard
Ted Arthur Haggard is an American evangelical pastor. Known as Pastor Ted to the congregation he served, he was the founder and former pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado; a founder of the Association of Life-Giving Churches; and was leader of the National Association of...

, who is accused of meth use, paying to have sex with a male prostitute, and having sex with a male member of his congregation, and Eddie Long
Eddie Long
Eddie Lee Long is a controversial preacher and the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a megachurch in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States, near Lithonia. When Long started as pastor for New Birth Church in 1987, there were 300 church members...

, who is accused of luring two male teenagers into attending his church and forcing sex upon them. Also, Earl Paulk
Earl Paulk
Earl Pearly Paulk, Jr. was the American founder of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, a charismatic/Pentecostal megachurch in Decatur, Georgia; a suburb of Atlanta...

was accused of child molestation and a number of affairs, including committing an adultery with his wife's sister and fathering a child by her.

Another concern with megachurches is their tax-exempt status. These churches generate millions of dollars and are not subject to the same disclosures that charities are on tax-exempt revenues. This has received attention from the US Senate. Megachurches have also been investigated for illegal contributions to the political campaigns of Republican candidates and one has been accused of embezzlement.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.