Large congregations can be found among every Christian denomination in America. However, for the truly gigantic mega-churches, one needs to seek among the Non-denominational congregations. Effectively a modern day extension of the early American Baptist movement of the 17th century, Non-denominational churches espouse a philosophy of congregational independence and a general Protestant theology that has great modern-day appeal to American Christians. Here are the five largest Non-denominational churches in the United States:
Est. 43,500 members
Web: www.lakewoodchurch.com (official website)
Lakewood Church is the mega-church of mega-churches. Far and away the largest congregation of any religion or denomination in the United States, it is among the largest Christian congregations on Earth. Founded in 1959 by John Osteen, it is now run by his son, Joel Osteen, one of the best known televangelists in the world. Due to the huge size of the congregation, the church moved its main campus to the old Compaq Center (a former sports arena) in 2005.
North Point Community Church
Est. 30,000-36,000 members
Web: www.northpoint.org (official website)
North Point Community Church is home to the second largest congregation in the United States, a position it has held for the last few years. It was founded in 1995 by and is currently led by Andy Stanley. One of the fastest growing churches in the country, the original campus in Alpharetta has had to move and expand several times. There are now additional campuses in Buckhead, Browns Bridge, Gwinnett and Woodstock.
Church of the Highlands
Est. 22,000-33,000 members
Web: www.lutheranchurchofhope.org (official website)
The Church of the Highlands is a mega-church with one of the most extensive networks of campuses in America. Based in Birmingham, there are ten affiliated campuses, as well as an extensive prison ministry network. Founded in 2001, it is ranked as the fastest growing church in the United States. It has been led by Christ Hodges since its inception. Additional campuses are located in Alabaster, Auburn, Fultondale, Greystone, Huntsville, Montgomery, Opelika, Riverchase, Tuscaloosa and Woodlawn.
Est. 21,000-36,000 members
Web: http://gatewaypeople.com (official website)
Gateway Church is one of the best known mega-churches in the United States. Established in 2000, its leader, Robert Morris, is one of the most prolific major Christian authors in the country. The church of the main campus in Southlake was completed in 2010. Other campus locations include North Richland Hills, Frisco, North Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Dallas and Scottsdale (AZ).
Willow Creek Community Church
South Barrington, Illinois
Est. 26,000 members
Web: www.willowcreek.org (official website)
Willow Creek Community Church is the largest church in America outside of what is traditionally thought of as the ‘Bible Belt’. Located in a suburb of Chicago, it was founded in 1975 by Bill Hybels who serves as the pastor of the church. The current church building was completed in 2004, with an additionally ministry presence in downtown Chicago.