The Church Report is pleased to once again announce this year’s 50 Most Influential Churches in America. Each year, we look forward to working with Dr. John Vaughan and appreciate the input of pastors from throughout the country that provide their insight as to who is really influencing America's churches.
This year’s list has several new churches and you also note movement of other churches through the list. If you have comments, please feel to send us an email to email@example.com.
Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, Ill.), Saddleback Church Lake Forest, Calif.), North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Fellowship Church (Grapevine, Texas) lead this years 50 Most Influential Churches list.
New to the top 10 churches are Granger Community Church (Granger, Ind.), Mars Hill Church (Seattle, Wash.) and Seacoast Church (Mt Pleasant, S.C.). All but Granger Community Church and The Potter’s House are multi-site churches.
Four of the top 10 churches are affiliated with denominations and six are non-affiliated. Lakewood Church and The Potter’s House are the only two of the 10 that are charismatic congregations. Two of the churches (Saddleback and Fellowship) are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Life Church is Evangelical Covenant and Granger Community Church is United Methodist. Some are new churches and others date back to the late 1950s. Lakewood Church began in 1959 and is both the oldest of the five top congregations and largest in the nation. North Point was the youngest church in last year’s group and began in 1995 with about 1,200 people. Among the other three churches, Willow Creek is the second oldest and began in 1975 with a core of 75 people. Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, youngest of this year’s top ten list, began with 12 people in 1996, Granger began in 1986 with five people and Seacoast Church was launched with 65 people in 1989. Saddleback followed in 1980 with only Rick Warren and his wife Kay initially. Fellowship Church is the second youngest of the five and began in 1990 with 150 people. Each of these 10 churches now average more than 5,000 in weekend attendance.
Two United Methodist congregations, Granger Community Church (Granger, Ind.) and Resurrection United Methodist Church (Leawood, Kan.) were named by other church leaders for this year’s list of churches. Another returning mainline church is Menlo Park Presbyterian Church of Menlo Park, Calif., a PC(USA) congregation.
The 2007 survey was emailed to leaders of more than 2,000 of the largest non-Catholic congregations in the nation in April-June. Participants were asked to recommend up to 10 churches they considered to be among the nation’s most influential. A total of 77 churches were recommended. A total of 53 percent of all church leader recommendations named the five churches. The top 10 churches received a total of 65 percent of all recommendations. A summary of all 50 churches reveals:
Affiliation and/or Networks of Churches
Southern Baptist (12)
Assemblies of God (3)
Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (2)
United Methodist (2)
Calvary Chapel (3)
Baptist General Conference (2)
Evangelical Covenant (2)
Church of Christ (1)
Evangelical Free (1)
Presbyterian –PC(USA) (1)
Reformed Church in America (1)
Association of Relating Churches (1)
Note: Los Angeles International Church/Dream Center is affiliated with both the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Assemblies of God.
Location by Region
North East (3)
North Central (9)
South East (10)
South Central (6)
Pacific North West (2)
Pacific South West (10)
New to This Year’s Recommended Churches
New pastor’s to churches previously listed:
(16) Dave Stone, Southeast Christian Church – Louisville, Ky.
(34) Jonathan Falwell, Thomas Road Baptist - Lynchburg, Va.
New churches listed for the first time:
(25) Mariner’s Church – Irvine, Calif.
(37) Northland, A Church Distributed – Longwood, Fla.
(38) Bellevue Baptist Church – Cordova, Tenn.
(39) National Community Church – Washington D.C.
(41) World Changers – College Park, Ga.
(47) New Light Christian Center Church – Houston Texas
Lake Forest, Calif.
3 Fellowship Church
4 North Point Church
5 Life Church
6 Granger Community Church
7 Lakewood Church
8 Mars Hill Church
9 The Potter's House
10 Seacoast Church
Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
11 Mosaic Church
Los Angeles, Calif.
12 Mars Hill Church
13 North Coast Church
Larry W. Osborne
14 First Assembly of God
15 United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
16 Southeast Christian Church
17 Brooklyn Tabernacle
18 Calvary Chapel
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
19 Community Christian Church
20 New Hope Christian Fellowship
21 New Spring Church
22 Prestonwood Baptist Church
23 Redeemer Presbyterian
New York City, N.Y.
Timothy J. Keller
24 Second Baptist Church
25 Mariners Church
26 Bayside Church
Granite Bay, Calif.
27 Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa
Santa Ana, Calif.
Chuck Smith Sr.
28 Christ Fellowship
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
29 First Baptist Church
30 First Baptist Church
31 Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
Menlo Park, Calif
32 New Life Church
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ross Parsley – Interim Senior Pastor
33 NorthRidge Church
34 Thomas Road Baptist Church
Jerry Falwell / Jonathan Falwell
35 Wooddale Church
Eden Prairie, Minn.
Leith C. Anderson
36 Harvest Christian Fellowship
37 Northland - A Church Distributed
38 Bellevue Baptist Church
39 National Community Church
40 Crystal Cathedral
Garden Grove, Calif.
Robert A. Schuller
41 World Changers
College Park, Ga.
42 Fellowship of the Woodlands
The Woodlands, Texas
43 Vineyard Community Church
44 New Birth Baptist Church
Eddie L. Long
45 Oak Hills Church
San Antonio, Texas
46 Bethlehem Baptist
47 New Light Christian Center Church
48 First Baptist Church
49 McLean Bible Church
50 LA International Church / Dream Center
Los Angeles, Calif.
Matthew Barnett / Tommy Barnett
These churches are recommended by other church leaders as congregations that represent the passion and sense of mission mandated in the New Testament. They do not all share the same view of all biblical doctrine, their recognition came from others, and they do not view themselves as better than other churches. Each just considers itself as a church wanting to be pleasing and useful to God and their understanding of His mandates to them.
Changes in this year’s list reflect the rapid change and diversity of ministry across the nation from year to year. It appears to also affirm the new expressions of ministry by emerging churches while also affirming the best of churches that endure through eras of dramatic change. We look forward to the churches that you will be recommending next year.
To compare last year’s list click here.
Dr. John N. Vaughan is an author and consultant for Church Growth Today in Bolivar, Mo., which provides consulting and research services for church growth and development.
He is author of the World’s 20 Largest Churches, The Large Church, Megachurches and America’s Cities and a new 10 volume series America’s Most Influential Churches.
Visit his homepage www.churchgrowthtoday.org .