Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.


large Protestant church with an average weekly attendance of 2,000 or more; relatively uncommon until after 1970. In the United States, where most megachurches are located, there were more than 1,300 by the late 2000s. They can also be found in a number of other countries, e.g., South Korea, Brazil, and several African nations. More than 60 percent of the American megachurches are located in the Sun Belt, especially in suburban areas of California, Texas, Georgia, and Florida. The average congregation ranges from about 2,000 to 3,000 in size.

Whether belonging to an established denomination or nondenominational, practically all American megachurches share a conservative, evangelical theology and aim at attracting members from many religious backgrounds. Most megachuches have pastors who possess a markedly charismatic preaching style and often make use of print, television, and radio in their ministry. Run as much like businesses as religious institutions, megachurches usually serve social as well as theological functions. Typically open from morning until night, seven days a week, they very often host conferences, hold classes, operate cafés or food courts, maintain gyms and other sports facilities, offer child care and youth programs, and have many other auxiliary operations, including a variety of outreach programs. Other features of some of today's megachurches include the operation of a variety of business ventures such as residential developments, shopping centers, investment partnerships, a sports arena, publishing house, limousine service, graphic design studio, recording studio and record label, and specialized web sites.

One of the earliest, best known, and probably the most architecturally distinguished of the megachurches is the Crystal Cathedral (1980), Garden Grove, Calif., the former home church (1980–2010) of televangelist Robert H. SchullerSchuller, Robert Harold,
1926–2015, American Protestant minister and television evangelist, b. Alton, Iowa. Schuller gained attention (1955) when he used a drive-in theater to preach to his newly established Los Angeles–area congregation.
..... Click the link for more information.
; the building was designed by Philip JohnsonJohnson, Philip Cortelyou,
1906–2005, American architect, museum curator, and historian, b. Cleveland, grad. Harvard Univ. (B.A., 1927). One of the first Americans to study modern European architecture, Johnson wrote (with H.-R.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and John Burgee. By the mid-2000s, the nation's largest such church was the nondenominational Lakewood Church, Houston, Tex., pastored by Joel Osteen and holding services for a congregation of more than 40,000 in a former sports arena.


See studies by O. Guinness (1993), J. N. Vaughan (1993), G. A. Pritchard (1996), D. E. Miller (1997), L. E. Schaller (1992 and 2000), J. H. Kilde (2002), A. C. Loveland and O. B. Wheeler (2003), J. B. Twitchell (2004), G. Marti (2005), S. Ellington (2007), and S. Thumma and D. Travis (2007).

Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
From the very beginning, Craig has had his doubts about robbing the megachurch.
Jakes represents a growing number of black megachurch ministers who pursue business interests while shepherding the ecclesial flock.
One of the defining qualities of this megachurch is its identical North and South locations, which have twin campuses and soon-to-be-completed 5,000-seat arenas.
The Catholic variation on the megachurch, Holy Family in Inverness, Illinois has 10,000 parishioners, one priest, but incredible lay participation.
Questions over Long's health first arose after the megachurch preacher posted a YouTube video of himself appearing almost unrecognizable following his dramatic weight loss.
Nicknamed the "smiling preacher," Joel Osteen is the leader of a 16,000-seat megachurch in Houston that his father started.
Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Houston megachurch Windsor Village United Methodist.
While this writer has had no firsthand experience of megachurch religious services, is it unreasonable to think of them as huge pep rallies, perhaps something akin to the Promise Keepers rallies in football stadiums?
In a story about the meeting, Denver TV station KUSA asked the former evangelical leader and megachurch pastor whether he still has homosexual thoughts.
A few AG congregations fall into the megachurch category with sanctuaries seating thousands.
They have hit the right balance by limiting funding to particular slated-to-be-destroyed [in vitro] cells, yet expanding significantly the number of diseases that can be addressed by increasing the number and range of stem cell lines from which we can learn," said Joel Hunter, pastor of a megachurch in the Orlando, Fla.
Last weekend, New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow came under heavy fire from the media after announcing that he would be delivering two sermons at a Dallas megachurch many perceive as anti-gay and generally bigoted.