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Rise of Megachurches

September 21, 2007 • Volume 17, Issue 33
Are they straying too far from their religious mission?
By Alan Greenblatt, Tracie Powell

Introduction

A 10-story-high flag hangs on Memorial Day at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., founded by Dr. Robert H. Schuller.  (AP Photo/Bob Riha Jr.)
A 10-story-high flag hangs on Memorial Day at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., founded by Dr. Robert H. Schuller. (AP Photo/Bob Riha Jr.)

Since the 1970s, the number of so-called megachurches — churches that attract at least 2,000 people to weekly services — has been exploding in the United States and abroad, particularly in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Many of the more than 1,200 U.S. megachurches sit on large suburban campuses and boast vast sanctuaries with multiple large TV screens and other high-tech amenities. Several serve meals at their own sprawling food courts and cafés and offer gymnasiums and other facilities. Megachurches are typically Protestant evangelical and espouse conservative positions on social issues. Church leaders are often charismatic ministers who preach the "prosperity gospel," stressing personal fulfillment and success as much as theology. Some researchers suggest megachurches are a unique, collective response to people's needs amid sweeping cultural and societal changes. But critics say megachurches are straying from their traditional religious mission by focusing on helping parishioners get rich rather than worshipping God.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Christianity
Jun. 07, 2013  Future of the Catholic Church
Jan. 2011  Crisis in the Catholic Church
Sep. 21, 2007  Rise of Megachurches
Sep. 14, 2001  Evangelical Christians
Feb. 26, 1999  Future of the Papacy
Dec. 11, 1998  Searching for Jesus
Jul. 22, 1988  The Revival of Religion in America
Dec. 02, 1983  Christmas Customs and Origins
Jun. 10, 1983  Martin Luther After 500 Years
Aug. 08, 1975  Year of Religion
Jul. 26, 1972  Fundamentalist Revival
Jan. 04, 1967  Religion in Upheaval
Aug. 03, 1966  Religious Rivalries in South Viet Nam
Nov. 11, 1964  Church Tax Exemption
Aug. 05, 1964  Catholic Schools
Oct. 14, 1963  Churches and Social Action
Jun. 19, 1963  Vatican Policy in a Revolutionary World
Jan. 05, 1962  Rome and Christian Unity
Mar. 26, 1958  Church-Related Education
Dec. 18, 1957  Church Consolidation
Jun. 05, 1957  Evangelism in America
Jun. 23, 1955  Religious Boom
Aug. 13, 1952  Church Unity in America
Feb. 12, 1947  Relations with the Vatican
Dec. 21, 1923  The New Schism in the Church and the Immaculate Conception
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Christianity
Religious Movements
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