Thoughts on America’s Fastest-Growing Churches

Outreach Magazine has compiled it’s annual list of America’s 100 largest and fastest growing churches. In the next post, I’ll offers some comments on the largest churches and churches on both lists (largest and fastest). Here are some brief observations I made as I went through the report:

  • There is a correlation between pastoral tenure and church growth. The average tenure of the Senior Pastor in America’s Fastest growing churches is 14 years. One might assume that pastoral tenure and church size might go together–but not church growth rate. Churches that run through preachers quickly should note this.
  • There is some correlation between church planting and both size and speed of growth. Even more established churches like Saddleback, Willow Creek, Life Church, Woodlands Church, Fellowship Church, North Point, Christ’s Church of the Valley, and others have the original planter still at the helm. The new kids on the block are also almost completely church plants. They didn’t begin yesterday, but they were plants and the original planter is going the distance. Of course there are churches that haven’t been planted recently and have had multiple pastors over the last 30 years or so…just not many.
  • Warm weather is in! Among cooler climate states, only Richmond Outreach Center in Richmond, Virginia is among the 10 fastest growing by total numbers over the past year. This isn’t just a population shift thing (though I have no doubt that plays a part). It seems deeper than that. The states with the most fastest-growing churches in order are: Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and Georgia.
  • As much as I appreciate his work over the years, I wonder if Barna would like to reconsider his declaration of the imminent demise of the megachurch.
  • Non-denominational churches dwarf all other denominations on both the largest churches and fastest-growing churches list…nearly matching the number of all denominations put together. To be fair, many of the churches classified into denominations would also consider themselves to be non-denominational (Independent Christian Churches, for example).
  • Multi-site churches appear to be here to stay.
  • I’ve studied several of the churches on the fastest-growing list up close and know some of their leaders. Among the traits shared by the churches on the fastest growing list, I can only find two:  a “strong leader” leadership paradigm and a genuine commitment to evangelism.
What are your thoughts on the aforementioned observations? Anything surprise you? Do you think it’s wrong for churches to think much about these things? I personally don’t, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Also, thanks to Outreach Magazine (and Ed Stetzer) for compiling and publishing the information. You can purchase a copy of the report here.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.