Belief Beat

Outreach magazine has come out with its list of America’s largest and fastest-growing churches.

More than one million Americans attend the top 100 largest churches (at 384 worship sites). About half of these churches identify themselves as “nondenominational.” The top five:

1. Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas, Joel Osteen, (43,500)

2. North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Ga., Andy Stanley (24,325)

3. Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, Ed Young Sr. (24,041)

4. Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill., Bill Hybels (24,000)

5. Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky., Dave Stone (19,230)

More than 640,000 Americans attend the top 100 fastest-growing churches (at 373 sites), up 75,246 from last year’s estimate. The top five:

1. 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, Ga., Kevin Myers (30% growth of 2,226)

2. Experience Life Church, Lubbock, Texas, Chris Galanos (60% growth of 1,061)

3. The Rock Church and World Outreach Center, San Bernardino, Calif., Jim Cobrae (25% growth of 2,646)

4. People’s Church, Oklahoma City, Okla., Herbert Cooper (58% growth, of 1,085)

5. Faith Church of St. Louis, Fenton, Mo., David Crank (36% growth of 1,200)

Texas is the winner on both lists, with 17 of the largest and 16 of the fastest-growing churches. (California comes in second on the largest church list, with 16 churches; Florida and Illinois tied for second on the fastest-growing list, each with eight.)

Prompted by these rankings, USA Today religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman asks: does size matter? Also, check out Guideposts for more on the rise of nondenominational megachurches.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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