What is a "MEGA CHURCH"?

What is a “MEGA CHURCH”?

[FONT=Cambria]If it’s based on total membership size or adherents … the Catholic Church is bigger… If it’s based on the number of parishioners per parish (Church)… got you beat… If it comes down to the church building, square footage… got yah beat. The Catholic Church therefore, must be a “Super-Super-Super-Mega Church”.
Why is the term “MEGA CHURCH” only applied to protestant churches… Isn’t this misleading?

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church is, with over a billion members, by far the world’s largest Christian Church and the first Christian and only Christian religion on earth, with all others having the distinction of being “Christian denominations” or those that came after, or broke from the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church has 2,900+ Catholic Dioceses, in hundreds of countries worldwide, with nearly 18,000 parishes and 1.18 Billion Catholics worldwide… 5,002 Bishops, 410,593 Priests, 38,155 and Permanent Deacons and 729,371 Catholic women’s order’s members. The Knights of Columbus has 1.8 million members and 15,000 councils…
I’m leaving out a lot of Catholic groups here but you get the point…
So, what is a “MEGA CHURCH”?

So, really… what is a “MEGA CHURCH”? Is this a misleading term?

Your Thoughts?

“Only in America”
For Catholics the size of the actually church building is irrelevant. When a single (1) Catholic nun came to visit me in the hospital and gave me Holy Communion, the Catholic Church and Jesus were there. When a single (1) Catholic priest came to my home to visit me, the Catholic Church and Jesus were there too.

And, this would have been true, regardless of where the hospital was located, or where I lived in the world.

I think the term “Mega Church” is being used as modern, protestant marketing gimmick.
Am I wrong?


Matthew 18:20 -

*“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” *

Saint Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans (75-110 AD)

Chapter 8:2 -

"…wherever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church."

Ouch! My bandwidth!!! :ouch:

Good point, though. 1.24 billion (+/-) members is mega no matter how you slice it.

I think the term “Mega Church” is being used as modern, protestant marketing gimmick.

OK, so here’s proof of evolution in faith: Non-denom to Catholic Mega-parish!

When you get to the ecclesial communities people call mega-churches, you are often discussing one with a huge congregation, massive facilities, and led by a charismatic preacher. Though they don’t approach the size of the entire Church, they are much larger than the standard parish. In my area, one of the mega-churches claims a membership of over 25,000 people.

When those preachers die, move, or become involved in a scandal, those churches seem more subject to failing than would be the case of a standard Protestant church. So much is tied up in the person who is the leader.

In Rockford, Illinois there is a “mega-church” called Faith Center where now that the founder of the community is elderly and no longer able to be in control, it has filed bankruptcy, it is in deep debt, contributions are falling off, These are some of the dangers of an independent non-denom protestant assembly with a very charismatic leader

“Mega-Church” is more a vernacular term used to describe a chuch with very expansive (and expensive) physical facilities, very large membership roles, and quite often, a single, very charasmatic pastor or leader.

The space where they have their services are usually arranged more like a stadium or concert hall, and can seat thousands (or 10s of thousands) of people. They usually have a very elaborate and polished sound system, which is utilized not only for the preaching but also for the incorporation of the music they incorporate. The music (either live band or recorded) is always well polished and appealing as is the message of the pastor. Their services are a style that some call “evangel-tainment”, and are meant to be crisp, engaging and appealing to a large swath of people. Also, they are most always “stand-alone” churches, not tied with other congregations or to any centralized authority outside of their own pastor, or board members.

None of this is “official” mind you; it is a generic colloquialism used to describe a certain type of congregation. We have a few here in St. Louis. The facilities are all modern architecture, over 100,000 square feet of space, with a parking lot the size of a super wal-mart or home depot, and a huge backlighted sign that you can see with ease while zipping past it on the interstate and 70 mph, and often a billboard advertisement along with it.

Your post made me chuckle…I remember thinking the same thing when I first read that the Crystal Cathedral was being purchased by the diocese.

I found the article “Megachurch Definition” by the Hartford Institute interesting. It defines a “megachurch” as a Protestant church with sustained average weekly attendance of 2000 or more. There are 1200 in the United States. It goes on to say that the Protestant megachurches in the United States generally share many other traits. Virtually all these megachurches have a conservative theology, even those within mainline denominations. A large number are nondenominational but the majority are affiliated with a denomination:

Nondenominational 34%
Southern Baptist 16%
Baptist, unspecified 10%
Assemblies of God 6%
United Methodist 5%
Calvary Chapel 4.4%
Christian 4.2%

It also says that a survey of 403 megachurches in 2005 broke down their theology as this:

Evangelical 56%
Charismatic 8%
Pentecostal 8%
Moderate 7%
Traditional 5%
Seeker 7%
Fundamentalist 2%
Other 7%

The article also addresses why large Catholic parishes were not included in the term “megachurch.” If they had been, it would have added 3000 Catholic churches to the megachurch category. However, the Hartford Institute says that there is more that goes into the “megachurch” identity than just size. For example,

Our studies and readings of worship and the congregational life of Catholic Churches has not convinced us that most very large catholic churches really function like the Protestant megachurches. There are a few that we have come across that do, but most don’t have strong charismatic senior ministers, many associate pastors, large staff, robust congregational identity that empowers 100’s to 1000’s of weekly volunteers, an identity that draws people from a very large area (sometimes an hour or more) and across parish boundaries, a multitude of programs and ministries organized and maintained by members, high levels of commitment and giving by members, seven-day-a-week activities at the church, contemporary worship, state of the art sound and projection systems, auxiliary support systems such as bookstores, coffee shops, etc. huge campuses of 30-100 acres, and other common megachurch characteristics.

It also says that other studies that have included large Catholic parishes reached the conclusion that large Protestant churches and large Catholic churches “don’t seem to have the same internal dynamics at all.”

very good point and explanation:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Did the article mention if there are schools associated with mega churches. I know that some do have schools associated with them.

Quite right. I have heard converts mention that so much was pastor-centered. They were left feeling flat if the pastor left. What a blessing it is to have the Tabernacle and a Christ-cenetered faith! He is always there for us, but simply speaks through a variety of Priests - just as He did through the Apostles.

A school by itself would not be a sign of a mega church. Many medium and simply large churches run schools

The Assembly of God where I first met Jesus in 1973 was so pastor- centered that in 1974 when the pastor was killed in an airplane accident many people, myself included, were left feeling flat. The community just didn’t seem the same after his death. I had to struggle for many years before my faith was Christ-centered in fact it wasn’t til I became Catholic in 2002 that this finally took place. I had to wrap my head around the fact that Catholic priests only stay at a certain parish for a few years and then they get transferred to other ones, so that one is almost forced to have one’s faith centered on Christ rather than the pastor. I have, however, seen that in some cases even Catholic priests can be rather charismatic and can develop “fans”:shrug:

And in some cases, stalkers! I had to jump up out of mass one day and chase down a person that was harassing tour Priest. Fr. had obtained a civil anti-harassment order, it was so bad. Something like 600 emails and multiple brief visits during mass. And, this person drove 40 miles past several other parishes to do this.

Megachurches from my understanding, have to have at least 10,000 parishoners. In my experience, these churches are often of the Charismatic Evangelical variety because it’s usually those guys who know how to draw people in with their oration compared to the more tame sermons of other Protestant sects.

The one by me, Harvest Christian Fellowship is about 12k+ strong and still growing, and is heavily pushing new media, and heavily markets itself by that and through branding through products like clothing and especially bumper stickers that seem to be on everyone’s car advertising the next “Crusades”, which is a big event that takes place in somewhere large like Angels Stadium.

In the past decade they have grown so large that their church is now a huge campus that takes up more than a city block’s worth of land, and have even had to put in new roads specially for the place just to handle the parishoners that were choking up the traffic in the nearby streets.

While I have some beefs with the Catholic Church because of it’s structure, they don’t worry me as much as much as that place does. So much of that Chruch’s power and function is centered around their main pastor, that I think it’s a stone’s throw short of a personality cult. And the political influence that guy has will be damaging and regressive to local and state politics.

The “Mega church” is by and large what turned me off to Christianity. I viewed it as being religion for sale and “faith” for profit. The ten cent sermons given were largely based on personal opinion and whatever suited their personal agenda or furthered their snake oil greasy antics. I was honestly seeking answers and got loose interpretations but if I wanted the whole enchilada I could buy their book for $9.95.
I call them McChurches. I saw a McChurch preacher take a hammer to a statue of the Blessed Mother and proceed to break her head and knocked Jesus’ head off of the crucifix the Blessed Mother was holding. This preacher laughed and so did the congregation. I am a Muslim and I was offended. I make no apologies for my dislike of these McChurches. There is only one place I got answers and that has been the Catholic Church. I make distinction between a Mega McChurch where some blow hard says if he doesn’t get millions of dollars then God will strike him down.( Personally, I would have given a fresh pack of Big Red to have seen it happen.) And the Mega church that actually may honestly minister to its congregation and do good works. God willing, I will be baptized next year and be part of the HUGE Catholic Church. :slight_smile:

When I lived in a much larger city and was still an evangelical I remember several mainline Protestant churches in a certain section of town complaining thier memberships were dwindling because the local “mega-church” was stealing sheep.
And they had a right to complain.
These tiny Protestant mainline churches could not afford a “million dollar sound system” nor the “hottest acts in town” with “closed circut TV” and internet streaming.
I knew these men. They served God in the best way possible, they taught the Bible, they served their people. They had a modest choir with a piano and organ, they were not on TV with thier “dynamic preaching”, they taught the Word as best they could. The choir sang the best they could.
I felt so sorry for these men, they watched thier young people leave even though they had a youth group. They watched thier older people hang on as best they could until one day the doors closed.
Sorry if I am a little cynical about “mega-churches”, I have seen first hand the type of damage done by them.
Even though I am Catholic now, I feel these tiny mainline churches were serving God in a far greater way than some smoke and mirrors mega-Churches. What did Paul call them? Clanging cymbals?
If I were Protestant again (and there is little chance of that), give me a tiny church with a modest choir, a old piano and an honest pastor anyday over these overblown entertainment centers.

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