America's 50 Most Influential Churches

The Church Report has released America’s 50 Most Influential Churches survey. Hey, my church, Second Baptist, is #24. Interesting that Ed Young’s son’s church made #3. And I listen to MP3 sermons from McLean Bible Church which comes in at #49. Saddleback Church is the second most influential; I’ll vouch for that. Between his “Purpose Driven Life” and the number of mission trips they do, his church seems to be everywhere.

The #1 church I hadn’t heard of, but I’ve read Bill Hybels bible studies which are excellent. And Joel Olsteen made the list, though I confess I’m not much of a fan of his message of prosperity. I’ve listened to Mars Hill, too, but since it’s on the list twice, I don’t know which Mars Hill I’ve listened to. And Max Lucado’s church is on there; I’ve only read his books though. I’m surprised Chuck Swindoll’s not on the list.

Is your church on the list?

* Nod to Another Day Closer for the link.

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17 thoughts on “America's 50 Most Influential Churches

  1. Stephen, I think all the churches listed are bigger than your town. 🙂

    Sean, I don’t know. I didn’t notice anywhere that they restricted it to Protestant. Perhaps there aren’t any Catholic mega-churches? Most individual Catholic churches I’m aware of are fairly small churches, and perhaps they lump the Catholic organization like the Southern Baptist Convention; more of an organization, nt a church.

    Is the Vatican considered a church?

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  2. The article does not describe exactly which of the possible meanings of “influential church” was used as the criteria: 1) Influence on the personal lives of their members, 2) Influence on other churches as to how to “do church” and provide programs, services, evangelism, outreach, etc. or 3) Influence on society in general such as in the political, business, and governmental arenas. Because Lakewood Church is rated high on the list, I would think the first item of personal influence was the primary criteria. As for Joel Osteen, I have watched him on TV for a few services, but really about one sermon was enough because his message is usually the same: “Smile at your neighbor, say a kind word to someone, try to become a better person because God has good things down the road of life in store for you.” At first I was rather put off by this feel good pabulum which, in my opinion, does not really seem to challenge his members to any real sacrifice. But as I have thought about if further, I now see this benign message as certainly much more preferable to the Islamic mullahs’ call for suicide bombers in the belief that Allah loves a martyr.

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  3. Chris, I don’t disagree with the inclusion of Joel Olsteen as “influential,” whatever definition is chosen. I have the same opinion as you about his message – benign, useful to young Christians, not sufficiently “meaty” enough for me.

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  4. Yes, they did exclude Catholic Churches, I’d reference the last parargraph of the article, but I am using a new reader and cannot figure out how to do it…Maybe I should ask M3….

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  5. Well, the Vatican is the Holy See of the Catholic Church which is global in scope. For edifices, we probably do not have a “mega-church” location per se, unless you include the square at St. Peter’s in Rome. Weekly attendance there for the Pope’s homily/address is usually in the thousands I suppose, unless it rains. Maybe I could convince the Pope to condider roofing it over?

    Interestingly, the message is unified over the globe, with a pre-scheduled list of scripture readings, and the local priest usually interprets the readings for local conditions and laity.

    I have attended Mass in Montreal, Rome, London and Dublin, and it is pretty much the same ideas, such that the language used (French in the case of Montreal) did not really detract from the readings. However, I missed out on most of the homily I’m sure…heh.

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  6. This list is bogus, see:

    Rising Evangelical Star Jason Christy Leaves Trail of Fraud, Associates Say
    By Hannah Elliott

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Aug. 1 /ABP/ — When young, charismatic Christian publisher Jason Christy was tapped two years ago to lead the powerful Christian Coalition, the group’s leaders praised him for his ability “to inspire and encourage people of faith to action.” But Christy’s business dealings — both before and after his one-month affiliation with the Coalition — instead have inspired former customers and co-workers to file lawsuits charging Christy with defrauding their Christian businesses.

    Christy, 36, who apparently had no previous public-policy experience, persuaded the Christian Coalition in 2005 to place him in one of the most visible and powerful positions in evangelical life. But before the coalition’s leaders officially turned over the reins of their 1.2 million-member national lobbying group, they learned of a trail of legal and financial problems that has followed Christy from coast to coast.

    Former associates and customers of Christy’s many business ventures — mostly Christian magazines — say he cheated them out of money and threatened them. At least 10 of them have filed lawsuits, Associated Baptist Press has learned, and others have gotten court-issued restraining or protection orders against the Scottsdale, Ariz., businessman.

    Christy says all the allegations are false. He and his supporters say “enemies” are spreading lies about him because of soured business relationships. But critics say Christy is a scam artist preying on trusting Christians.

    Christy now publishes The Church Report, supposedly a conservative, national print magazine and web site. He has appeared as an analyst on CNN and spoken at megachurches like Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. He hob-nobs with some of the evangelical elite and still has relationships with leaders in highly respected positions, like the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

    This article is continued at Associated Baptist Press News: http://www.abpnews.com/2685.article

    Also at The Baptist Standard: http://www.baptiststandard.com/postnuke/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=6646 and

    Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/augustweb-only/131-35.0.html

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  7. This article exposing Mr. Christy (http://www.abpnews.com/2685.article) is already bearing fruit:

    1.) Mr. Christy’s fake Impact America PAC is gone. It was taken down on August 10, 2007. It was at http://www.ImpactAmerica.net; an archive of the site is still available online at http://web.archive.org/web/20070429060409/http://www.impactamerica.net/

    2.) Potential and present advertisers have been warned that there is no print version of “The Church Report.” Christy has removed the print advertising rates from his website. An archive of the print rate card is still available online at http://web.archive.org/web/20070811195731/http://www.thecronline.com/mediakit.pdf

    3.) Ministries that contributed editorial content have been notified that their good names were being used to give credibility to a scam.

    4.) Past errors are less likely to be repeated. It is highly unlikely that any ministry will appoint Jason Christy to a leadership position, or that he will be given a national platform to speak for people of faith.

    5.) Past victims of Mr. Christy’s scams have a sense of justice. Those that have felt intimidated by Mr. Christy have some relief.

    6.) The chances of success for future fraudulent schemes by Jason Christy have been dramatically diminished.

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  8. Gary, I spent some more time meditating on this list, and I disagree on your “list is bogus” comment. While I acknowledge the complaints made against Mr. Christy, the article itself appears to be generated by Dr. John Vaughan and hosted on the Church Report. I find no such complaint generated against Dr. Vaughan.

    And even it were so, the list itself is relevant and interesting. What constitutes “influential” and who gets to decide? It’s still a list of influential churches.

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  9. I am sure that whatever Dr. Vaughan’s involvement — he is another victim of Jason Christy’s scam; thus Dr. Vaughn’s own statement that he is done with Christy and “The Church Report.”

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  10. Gary, can you direct me to a source where Dr. Vaughan’s statement? Also, can you tell me if Dr. Vaughan has disavowed the accuracy of the 50 Influential Churches list?

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  11. Dr. V. says he provided the article to Christy in January. Christy says the research for the list he published in July is his. Christy tells his staff he made it up. Dr. V. made statements to the reporter that she understood as a denial of the list’s validity. Christy was given plenty of opportunity to refute the article. After the article was published Dr. V. released a statement: http://www.leadingsmart.com/leadingsmart/files/vaughan_press_release.pdf .

    At whatever level Dr. V. was involved, I do not think he profited from, nor knew of Chrity’s endgame.

    A burglar can open a locksmith shop and even give his clients (or publish) accurate advice on home security. But if the purpose of that advice is to cause people to misplace their trust — I would call it fraudulent or bogus.

    There are ongoing investigations into Christy’s actions. Successful plaintiffs are still trying to get their money back. His ImpactAmerica.net scheme was shut down just a few days ago. The Church Report’s rate-card to sell print advertising was removed from his website this month, after this exposé was published — even though the print magazine has not existed in over a year.

    To date, there has been no restitution, no remorse, no repentance from Christy. Without that, all there is left to do is warn people.

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  12. I edited the link to add a space so the link works. In the PDF, D. Vaughan indicates he supplied the list to Christy but will furthermore disassociate himself from Christy.

    The original link at the Church Report correctly attributes the link to Dr. Vaughan, so I’ll leave the post up.

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