Skip Nav
This Independence Day Wedding Rocks Its Subtle Theme
How Neville Longbottom Became the World's Sexiest Wizard
Successfully Officiate Your Best Friend's Wedding in 6 Easy Steps


God Super Sized: How Big Is Your Church?

Following news of the $1.3-million Christmas Pageant at the First Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale, the recent and unfortunate shootings at big Colorado churches and the cable ubiquitousness of Joel Osteen, megachurches are mega news. With the number of churches considered mega (a congregation of 2,000+) topping 1,300 and climbing in the business of God, is bigger better?

By the way, if you were wondering What Jesus Would Do when faced with a flock of thousands to minister? Well, according to ABC News, Senior Pastor Larry Thompson said of his million-dollar, pyrotechnic-filled, God-stravaganza, ''I think Jesus would come to the show [and say], 'Authentically you got it right.'"

So, do you go to a megachurch?

Join The Conversation
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
Oh, I find them so distasteful! They are the polar opposite of spiritual to me. OF COURSE, to each his or her own way of worship, but I simply cannot reconcile these mega-churches with the sanctity and peaceful joy that I think religion should bring. I am probably bordering on agnostic myself but I love my church (Mission Dolores in San Francisco) despite these doubts, because it is such an amazing, tight-knit, and THOUGHTFUL community that truly makes a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhood--it's not a vast sea of people just going through performance motions, who don't give much back to the community except traffic jams. I'm sorry if I come off judgmental but they really are big turnoffs to me, and I don't understand them.
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
I haven't been to a church in years because I have lost my faith in organized religion as a whole but I grew up attending a small Baptist church with maybe 100 parishioners. I have been to the mega churches a couple times but they seem like religion lite and sermons are cranked out like a factory. I never found one that was inspiring and it's hard to feel like a community of faith when you don't know most of the people you pray with. Just My Opinion
Nouveau-Jackie-O Nouveau-Jackie-O 9 years
I was raised attending smaller, more traditional Baptist churches. Men and women were usually dressed up and everyone knew of you and your family (for better or worse). The one I'm attending now has over 500 members, but surprisingly I don't feel lost in the crowd. The people are truly warm and welcoming and the atmosphere is more relaxed. The messages are heartfelt and the church has a lot of outreach and benevolence programs. I really like it :)
piraterie piraterie 9 years
I haven't been a churchgoer for a very long time, and I've never been to a megachurch. I did recently go to my mother's church; it's a fairly large church and they have implemented a lot of ideas they got from megachurches. It felt more like I was in a theatre watching a show than attending a church service. Very impersonal. If I attended church, I think I would want to go somewhere much smaller. There aren't really any megachurches in my area, although there are quite a few pretty large ones. One down the street from where I live has police directing traffic; it's such a mess, and I hate when I have to drive that way on a Sunday and end up getting stuck in it.
EllasMom EllasMom 9 years
Tinkerbelle, I'm with you. I lived in Houston during the construction of Joel Osteen's empire, Lakewood Church. You could drive by the billion dollor construction of his church and see throngs of homeless living under the neighboring overpass. I went back to visit recently and they are still there. Did anyone think that instead of Broadway caliber light and sound machines, a state of the art rising orchestra pit, and a mexican food restaraunt they could have been helping the less fortunate right outside their door? I'm sure they do a lot of chairity work, but the megachurch still doesn't sit well with me. My church has about 500 people, which, for my family, is just right.
dd-sugar dd-sugar 9 years
I miss the church I went to in Denver and haven't found anything like it here in LA. I haven't tried hard enough though. Guess I'm sort of sensitive and can't stand someone shouting at me and putting on a show. I get so much out of bible study groups and bonding with other Christians so a smaller church would probably work better for me.
Megatron Megatron 9 years
When I am home, I attend a church that has about 100 regulars. We are a very close community and I love it. When I am at school, I attend what could be considered a megachurch. There are several services and the building itself is very large, but I have a group of friends from school who go there and I like it. I guess that means I am pretty much comfortable anywhere.
tinkerbelle76 tinkerbelle76 9 years
I live in the DC metro, and there is a mega church that advertises on the radio. Not just the christian station, but all of them. They also have a parking garage, a starbucks and a multi million dollar building. My question to them is: Couldn't there be more done with all of that money? Why is there a need to advertise? Oh, not to mention at the end of each commercial the guy says, "Not a sermon, just a thought." It makes me want to vomit, not because I don't have a relationship with God, but because it is totally ridiculous.
brittany8 brittany8 9 years
my parents attend a pretty large church (a few thousand people attend, i don't know the exact number). i used to be forced to go when i was younger, and i encountered so much 'fakeness'. many important people of the church though that they were celebrities or something, it was so crazy to see. but it makes sense that with a huge congregation, it would easily go to one's head. i'm not saying this happens at all churches, but it definitely exists at my parents' church and i would guess it exists at others as well.
boffthewall boffthewall 9 years
I wish i could attend a mega church, but living in Vermont there isn't aren't even many large churches let along a mega church. If i could go anywhere, i would attend Willow Creek in Chicago, it's an awesome church and they have so much going on. Churches that big have a opportunity for spiritual growth and accountability, and plus you can't beat the awesome music and preaching! The church i attend is about 300 people, but nothing very exciting. I hope to move back to TN soon so i can get into a larger and more exciting church.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I live in a rural part of the South with many, many churches. Bigger (wouldn't call 'em "mega") churches are popping up, many that have had to expand for their congregation and new recruits. It seems that more younger families are targeted by these larger churches b/c they usually offer children services/daycare during services. There's this one church on my way to work that is just a big, steel building in the middle of a field with no trees around. Every time I see it I just think, "God, I bet their AC bill is huge during the summer!"
katiejane24 katiejane24 9 years
I think that everyone has a specific and individual relationship with God, and that therefore those relationships require different things to work. So I'm all for people worshiping in whatever way works for them. I don't think you have to belong to a church to be a Christian, but (and I speak as someone currently without a home church) I do think that it helps. Personally, I see how it would be easier to start out in a mega-church (I too am totally turned off by hyper evangelism or converting or recruiting, I think it scares more than it helps), but in the long run I think I need a church somewhere in the middle...where I don't have to introduce myself to my pastor after attending for four years, but where I can miss a service without the majority of the congregation noticing.
nola45 nola45 9 years
Megachurches are an interesting phenomenon. There is an article ("Annals of Religion") in December 3, 2007 New Yorker about a megachurch in New Milford, CT that opened my eyes to this type of place. THey seem to offer something that people (not me) are looking for. It's a good article. You won't find "megasynagogues" as long as Jews are against proselitizing (and some are not, at least are not against bringing more Jews back "into the fold"). Jews are not seeking converts (having a history of forced conversions, so being against proselitizing), but will accept them when people desire to be converted. Thanks for your comment, BellaSugar. I don't know about Muslims, but surely agnostics don't feel the need to gather to protest their beliefs (except when there is goverment sponsored prayer, and they want to protest the practice).
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
i used to go to a mega church and it was quite possibly the fakest thing i ever went to. one woman commented under her breath about my friend wearing pants! there was the minister with his hairspray glistening in the strobe lights and the woman who dance back and forth in the aisle. it was quite hilarious but sad in a way. i didnt feel that close to my faith in that place and i realized that i prefer a more personal relationship with God
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
our church has several different times that mass is offered so i can't be exact but probably about 800 attend each week. every one is catholic on christmas and easter (my joke to dh) so then there are about 2,000 at the different services. the priest knows the people who come every week by name.
LVC LVC 9 years
And a Catholic School and Church girl here! Something about the old Catholic Churches and the masses that make it so much more personal and emotional. I have been to one of the mega-churches in Vegas (yes there are churches here) but I am just not into it. If I don't have to sit, kneel, stand, sit, kneel, stand, sit, kneel, take communion, sit....I just don't feel like I am in church. Must be all those nuns that beat (Not literally) it into me.
just_kelly just_kelly 9 years
Normal sized, LDS church goer here..
Bookish Bookish 9 years
Just re-read the whole thread and wanted to add- I live in the center of the Bible Belt, so my experience with churches is probably going to be a bit different than people in other parts of the country (and world). Here, I'm the oddity for not attending church, and a lot of churches try very aggressively to add new members. I know it's not like this everywhere.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
There's just something about those watered-down, not controversial, feel-good sermons that bug me. Granted I've only been to the one in Chicago and seen the televangelists that don't fully represent the megachurch phenomenon, but I would rather be challenged and lead to some kind of repentance than just get a generic warm fuzzy.
Stacy14878746 Stacy14878746 9 years
I live about 2 miles from Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen's church). I've been once. The church is located in the Houston Rocket's (our NBA team) former stadium- which they expanded because it wasn't big enough! When you go, there are cops directing traffic and parking as if you were going to a major concert. I was very skeptical. Honestly, there isn't much to dislike about what Osteen says. It is very pleasant, non-controversial, and just kind of positive. I had a hard time getting into it because there are TV cameras everywhere and I just kept thinking about how X number of countries will all be watching this...and make sure I don't fidget... or scratch my butt... The congregation was very diverse (which I liked) and the church staff we encountered were all very welcoming. But for me personally, it was just too big. Having said that, it seemed clear to me that lots of people there were truly uplifted, and if that's the case, than I think it's a good thing.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
I don't attend church, but have visited two megachurches before (not my choice, believe me!) and was unimpressed. I'm not a huge fan of the church experience in general (raised in an ultraconservative "women are evil and inferior" church, happy to be out), but get 2000 people singing and chanting (shouting in tongues, in one case), plus the obligatory "You should sign this membership card- here's a pencil, I'll wait!" thing... if I could have run away screaming, I would have. I've caved in to my mom-in-law's desire to visit her church (which is probably 500-600 people), and since then I've not heard the end of it. I'm on the mailing list, somehow, they won't take me off (I've asked), I get at least two pieces of mail a week. And it's always, go back, join a class, you'll love it, welcome to your new church home! If I did attend church, I'd go to our city's Unitarian church. I think it's got about 250 members. I so did not mean to go off like that. Can't. Stop. Babbling.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Nope, it's not my cup of tea. I don't attend church, but I do have a personal relationship with God.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
What about those of us who don't attend a church? Are there megasynagogues, megamosques? Or megaagnostic centers? ;)
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
"Also, I think there needs to be a CLEAR distinction between a large church and a church run by a televangelist. In my mind these are totally different things" EXACTLY!
ilovefab4 ilovefab4 9 years
I go to a mega church of about 10k people. I can see how people think you could get lost in the shuffle (I've gone there since it was 1500 ppl 6 years ago), but also it enables people who aren't Christ followers to check out this whole God thing while remaining anonymous. If they want to meet people, they can join a small group or volunteer, etc. Also, being big gives us the ability to leverage resources to do great things to fight AIDS in Africa and to fight poverty in our city. Also, I think there needs to be a CLEAR distinction between a large church and a church run by a televangelist. In my mind these are totally different things. You can check out my church at if you're curious.
Who Is Nabra Hassanen?
Dani Mathers Convicted For Invasion of Privacy
Undocumented Father Detained by ICE
JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case Information
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds