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Beyond Megachurch Myths (Jossey-Bass, 2007) Debunks Popular Misconceptions about America’s Largest Congregations

DALLAS, TX (September 18, 2007)—Currently, more than 1,250 U.S. megachurches — nearly twice the number that existed six years ago — have an average weekly attendance of more than 2,000. These churches also have a combined annual income of over $7 billion.

These super-sized congregations are obviously doing something right. And yet, false impressions of megachurches abound, fueled by popular misconceptions and a few recent headlines.

In Leadership Network Publications’ latest title, Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn From America’s Largest Churches (Jossey-Bass, 2007), Dr. Scott Thumma and Dave Travis reveal that many of the most widely held beliefs about megachurches couldn’t be farther from the truth. Relying on extensive, well-designed and broad-based research, the book presents a picture that is both surprising and encouraging.

Among the most popular myths debunked by Thumma and Travis are:

MYTH #1:       All megachurches are alike.
REALITY:        They differ in growth rates, size and emphasis.

MYTH #2:       Megachurches exist for spectator worship and are not seriousabout Christianity.
REALITY:        Megachurches generally have high spiritual expectations and serious orthodox beliefs.

MYTH #3:       Megachurches are not deeply involved in social ministry.REALITY:        79 percent of churches surveyed have joined together with other churches on local community service projects, and 72 percent on international missions.

The book also reveals that a large and growing number of megachurches are multi-ethnic by design. And the majority do not have enormous sanctuaries and campuses, but rather schedule worship services over several days, in multiple venues and campuses. 

Co-author Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, notes that megachurches occupy an increasingly prominent place in our society. “During 2005 alone, four megachurch pastors had books on The New York Times bestseller lists. And megachurch pastors consistently dominate lists of the most influential religious leaders in the country.”

Thumma, a researcher in the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and a faculty member for the Hartford Seminary, will share additional findings and perspectives during a panel discussion on megachurches at the Religion Newswriters Association’s annual conference September 29 2007 in San Antonio, Texas.  For more information or to schedule an interview with Thumma during the conference, contact Rick Long at 1.800.477.6698 x 102 or rlong@sourcepub.com.

About Leadership Network: Based in Dallas, Texas, Leadership Network is a non-profit public charity that fosters church innovation and growth in furtherance of its far-reaching mission to identify, connect and help high-capacity Christian leaders multiply their impact. The Leadership Network Publications imprint from Jossey-Bass delivers thoroughly researched and innovative concepts from preeminent thinkers, practitioners and pioneering churches.  For more on Leadership Network, see www.leadnet.org, www.halftime.org and www.successtosignifiance.com or contact Rick Long at 1.800.477.6698 x 102 or rlong@sourcepub.com.

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