2005’s Fifty Most Influential Churches?


What say you all about this list conducted by The Church Report covering (what polling of 2,000 church leaders showed to be) the top 50 most influential churches in America?

First of all, I find it disheartening that by their own definition influential = big + fast-growing. Hmm….

{For long-time readers familiar with my personal history and some of my blog entries detailing my experiences at this church, it will be interesting to note that #21 was where I attended from 1989-1997, 2000-2004. }

17 thoughts on “2005’s Fifty Most Influential Churches?

  1. Anonymous

    You know, it would have been great to see a female pastor on that list. I wonder if one would have made the top 100?
    Although – that almost parallels to the business world – there aren’t all that many girls at the top.

  2. Okay. Saddleback and Willow Creek are on the list, along with that enormous church down in Texas that moved into the Compaq building.

    Here’s a famous quote from my mother: “Rick Warren has basically taken over the Southern Baptists.”

    Besides just the congregation numbers, one needs to take into consideration the far reaching influence of things such as Purpose Driven Ministries (which runs Pastors.com) and the Willow Creek Association. I suspect that congregations all across the country every Sunday are basically hearing recycled-sermons, procured from those two outfits.

  3. I know a lot of those pastors/churches from reputation, but I am utterly stunned that the #9 church on the list, Ginghamsburg UMC, is only 75 miles away as the crow flies and I have never heard of it or its pastor in my life.

    The #20 church is pastored by a guy I went to college with and whom I bummed around with from time to time while there. I’m still amazed whenever I see his mug plastered somewhere. He seems to be the Gen X pastor of the moment.

    When I was in college, I was at #2 Willow Creek for a year doing a research project on the church (when it was just becoming a national force.) That year formed my basis for loathing the seeker-sensitive model.

  4. Scott

    Funny – I went to church with #20 when we were just wee high-school lads (best Irish accent there). But I never knew him – he was a good Sunday School attender and, alas, at the time I was not.

    I have some friends from college who have made some serious impact in their communities with their churches as well. It’s hard sometimes thinking about them doing big works for the Lord when you “knew them when,” if you know what I mean. Praise God for His mighty grace toward us.

  5. Ella's Dad

    Dan –

    Funny you should mention that: Ginghamsburg Church is MY home church, and has been for the entirety of my 5 years here in Ohio. Sadly, this weekend is my last weekend there, as we are moving out of state for job related reasons.

    If you’re within driving distance, I highly recommend you pop in for a visit. Believe me: Ginghamsburg didn’t make #9 merely because of numbers (it averages 3,000+ a week spread over 7 services).

    God Bless.

  6. Gaddabout

    I know No. 13. That church is humongous. Whatever numbers they put on that place, they should really list it by square footage.

    I’m not surprised about Mark Driscoll’s success. I had some exchanges with him by e-mail in 1997 before I knew what post-modern or Emergent Movement was. At the time, I was looking to copy his church for a plant. This guy’s the real deal and he’s actually been doing it without needing a “conversation” with the world or a new theology. He is a gifted leader and teacher, true-blue gospel preacher to the “most unchurched city in America.” I’ll take more guys (and gals) like him.

  7. Just for the record, up until 1993 when I left California, for around 20 years I went to church #39 on the list. In fact, we knew the pastor back when he was young, starting out, and still had hair.

  8. Becky

    Don’t you think radio/TV “ministries” played a part in these, too? How about books ? (An obvious when it comes to Rick Warren, but how about the others? Anyone know?)


  9. Ella's Dad

    Becky –

    I’m sure that’s a big part, because the standard is “influence,” and mass media obviously spreads one’s influence.

    That said, Ginghamsburg’s appearance at #9 is even that more impressive, IMHO. No radio/TV presence, no bestselling Warren/Hybels/Osteen book, no arena turned sanctuary.

    I’m REALLY gonna miss my church (tonight’s my last night). 🙁

  10. Ronni

    I know Ginghamsburg church in Ohio. A friend of mine who was in his mid 20’s and his wife attended there. He had a heart attack and heart failure and needed a heart transplant. They had attended faithfully for a while. His wife sang on the praise team. They promised to help them as a church should because he was the primary breadwinner and they had lost everything because of this… Swore up and down they would have benefits for them, said time after time they would help, but they never even showed up at his hospital bed. They even chastized them for not giving enough in tithes (how is that possible in a circumstance like this?)… Her parents were chastized for taking their tithe and helping them out instead of giving it to the church. Ginghamsburg might be growing, but its because its better at a stage show than helping its members and being a true church family.

  11. Ronni

    Sorry Lance I didn’t see your comment above mine… but again, this is MY experience with Ginghamsburg. I know there are many facets to every church but this one hurt alot of people very badly to the point I know at least 20 people that left because of it… of course this was years ago but still… it made my friend who had the transplant question God and question the faithfulness of His people… and I see him struggle with that to this day.

  12. Josh Bonner

    I was thinking to myself while looking at the list, “How much money would I give to see the list: ‘The top 50 churches that most please God’?” Like Dan hinted at, I don’t think the criteria would be as much about size and influence? I suppose at least half would be Wesleyan too. Ha.

  13. Anonymous

    I have been a long time worshiper at Ginghamsburg (16 years?). During that time I lost nearly everything I had. Ginghamsburg was there to help me. They weren’t my sugar daddy. They didn’t throw money at me. They did buy me groceries once when I needed them. They’ve been good to me. I don’t expect them to pay my medical bills, or any other bills. They aren’t my welfare system. They’re my church. They lead me in spiritual things and help to guide my life. I’ve been active here in many areas and find it impossible to believe that the church chastized anyone in particular about their tithe. I’m confident they have encouraged people to grow beyond what they thought were their limits. If you’re only seeing a “stage show” there then you should get involved in more than the stage. The heart of the church doesn’t happen on a stage Sunday morning. It happens in people’s lives every day.

  14. Peter B

    Also noticed not one church in New England, the region where I pastor. Could it really be true that this is a “harder” place than most?

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