Looking back through my e-mail, I found a release about the latest findings of a Baylor study on religion in the U.S. Rather than posting the entire story at once, I’m going to post it by sections. This first will be a section about megachurches. The results seem to contradict traditional thinking about megachurches.
What do you think about the findings?
“None of the things we all believe about the megachurch is true,” said Dr. Rodney Stark, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor and co-director of the ISR.
Even with congregations of more than 1,000 members, the Baylor Religion Survey found that megachurches surprisingly are more intimate communities than small congregations of less than 100 members. Megachurch growth is mostly due to their members, who tend to witness to their friends, bringing them into the group, and witness to strangers, much more often than members of small churches.
When compared to small congregations, the survey found that megachurch members display a higher level of personal commitment by attending services and a Bible study group and tithing. They also are more likely to accept that heaven “absolutely” exists and that God rewards the faithful with major successes, are more convinced of the reality of evil, are far more given to having religious and mystical experiences, are significantly younger in age and are remarkably active in volunteer work (as much or more so than tiny churches).
“I’ve heard stories when you go to some of the megachurches that you have to get tickets and parking like it’s a football game,” said Carson Mencken, professor of sociology at Baylor. “You go to a football game, you sit next to people you don’t know very well, and so I figured that’s exactly what megachurches are going to be like. The survey reveals the megachurches are not like that at all. These people do know each other, and they’re networked into the church through their friends and friends of friends.”