What’s immediately notable to me is not which churches are on the list but the ones missing. Outreach says that churches voluntarily report through its survey, so it may be the case that a church secretary left the envelope sitting on her desk a little too long. Still, off the top of my head, these half dozen notable churches (with reputed membership numbers) are not on the list:
LifeChurch.TV, Craig Groeschel, pastor – 40,000
World Harvest Church, Rod Parsley, pastor – 30,000
Cornerstone Church, John Hagee, pastor – 17,000
First Baptist Church of Hammond, John Wilkerson, pastor – 17,000
Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll, pastor – 13,000
Church on the Move, Willie George, pastor – 12,000
In fact, the Outreach list contains few controversial churches. Missing are the largest Word of Faith churches, and many with charismatic/Pentecostal roots. Fundamentalist churches are missing. While this may be by design, it still makes me wonder.
I’m not endorsing any particular church, but if we want a genuine feel for what is happening out there, that I can think immediately of a half dozen churches not on that list makes its usefulness as a data source suspect.
I also wonder at this fascination with gigachurches (as megachurch is passé). While they tend to have a lot of clout when it comes to producing slick programming, I wonder how many new converts they generate per person attending. This list of gigachurches forces me to ask if unreported revival has broken out in America, since the country is able to sustain all these monster-sized churches. And yet, a simple looksie at the state of America shows us less spiritually attuned than we once were, given that our country is becoming more tolerant of sinful behavior as time passes. So what, if anything, are these gigachurches accomplishing?