USA - Megachurches Are Thriving

Arno Froese

Churches have closed as the proportion of Americans who call themselves Christian has fallen from 76% in 2010 to 64% in 2020. But most of America’s 1,750 megachurches—all Protestant and mostly evangelical churches with at least 2,000 worshippers—are thriving. Between 2015 and 2020 their congregations grew by a third on average, turning younger and more multi-racial, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, a think-tank in Connecticut.

Concentration among churches accelerated as costs rose in the 1970s, notes Mark Chaves of Duke University. Smaller ones lost members. Though evangelicals aim to convert non-believers, about three-quarters of those who join megachurches were already practicing.

With more money and more hands, megachurches can innovate. Though they account for just 0.5% of all churches and 7% of churchgoers, their influence is felt in the music played elsewhere and the popularity of their TED-talk-style sermons, says Scott Thumma of the Hartford Institute. Nearly all the top contemporary worship songs between 2010 and 2020 came from just four megachurches., 24 August 2023

Arno's Commentary

The Bible says, “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). When searching the internet, much of the discussion surrounding these megachurches is negative; some of it true, some of it questionable, and some even false. Thus, the question: Is the Gospel being preached? In the most cases, the answer is decidedly yes!

We must realize the situation in which the apostle Paul wrote verse 18. The previous three verses read: “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel” (Philippians 1:15-17). Thus, controversy within the Church at large is nothing new; it’s nearly two millenniums old.

Music for entertainment value, however, is a different story. Rarely is a hymn like “It Is Well with My Soul” sung by the entire congregation. Here the abbreviated story of the author: Horatio Spafford and his wife Anna had five children; their young son died of pneumonia. In the same year, much of their business was lost in the Great Fire of Chicago. On 21 November 1873, Spafford sent his wife with four children on a ship to England. The ship collided with another ship and, within about 12 minutes, sank. A sailor rowing a small boat to where the ship went down spotted a floating piece of wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. Nine days later they landed in Cardiff, Wales. She wired a message: “Saved alone. What shall I do?” After the tragedy, another daughter was born, and Spafford wrote:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Sacred music—particularly hymns—has been copied by the world and often popularized. Today, it seems it’s the opposite: the world’s music is welcomed in churches.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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