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Florida Hispanic church named No. 1 Fastest-Growing


CORRECTION: The list of the 2007 Outreach 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches was incorrect as published in the recent issue of Outreach magazine. The Largest U.S. Churches list published in the same issue is correct and remains the same. The corrected Fastest-Growing list is posted on OutreachMagazine.com, and inaccuracies are corrected in the revised release below. We regret any confusion that may have occurred as a result of the error.

October 24, 2007 (San Diego, Calif.) —Hispanic megachurch Iglesia Cristiana Segardores de Vida in Hollywood, Fla., has been named the fastest-growing church in America on the Outreach 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches list, published Sept. 27, 2007, exclusively in Outreach magazine’s second annual Outreach 100 Special Issue. 

The magazine’s cover features Ruddy Gracia, co-pastor with his wife, Maria, of Segadores de Vida. Since the Gracias launched the church in 1992 in their apartment living room, Segadores de Vida has grown from a small group to almost 6,000 attendees. From 2006 to ‘07, the church grew by 2,800 attendees.

This year, Outreach partnered for the first time with Dr. Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research and missiologist-in-residence, who served as the researcher for the report. Stetzer and his research team contacted more than 20,000 churches to gather the self-reported data used to compile the lists.

For the first time, a new methodology was used to calculate the Outreach 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches list. This year, the list rankings reflect an amalgamated number, factoring in both numerical and percentage growth. Previously, growth ranks were determined by numeric growth alone.

“We believe this change increases the list’s utility and meaning,” said Lynne Marian, executive editor and publisher of Outreach magazine. “While numerical growth in large churches is an important factor, percentage growth in attendees is also critical. The change in methodology provides a more accurate picture of a church’s growth.”

The corrected Fastest-Growing list reflects changes in the growth rankings of the churches; however the numerical growth figures and percentage growth figures remain the same as on the original list. All of the numerical growth figures are correct and reflect self-reported data from the churches on the list as of June 2007.

The growth rankings are based on an average of the numerical and percentage growth figures. The sortation of the original list was incorrect, and the error was not caught until after the issue was printed. Some church growth rankings remain unchanged; however most have shifted from their positions on the original list, some significantly. Rankings shifted both up and down.

The length of the list has also changed from 100 to 101 churches. As a result of the new rankings, one church moved onto the list. The Largest U.S. Churches list published in the same issue remains correct with no changes.

“Outreach magazine strives for accurate, responsible journalism and it is in this spirit that we now report and amend the list,” said Lynne Marian, publisher and executive editor of Outreach magazine. “On a personal note, I am grateful that attendance figures, list rankings, or even embarrassing publishing errors cannot diminish God’s work in and through His Church. It’s our privilege to share these stories in each issue of Outreach in hopes that they will inspire churches to reach their communities for Christ--and we will continue to do that.”

Marian continued, “We also stand by the good work of our research partner Dr. Ed Stetzer and our friends at LifeWay Research. Together we are investigating this problem and will ensure accuracy of our report in the future.”
In addition to the publication of the Outreach 100 lists, Outreach’s special issue also includes a report on the trends driving today’s megachurches (2,000-plus attendees) and a comprehensive analysis of the growth trends represented by the two Outreach 100 lists.

The issue also features profiles of four of the churches on the Fastest-Growing list, offering transferable principles and insights into their growth. These churches include Segadores de Vida in Hollywood, Fla. (No. 1); Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif. (No. 52); Salem Baptist Chicago (No. 50); Central Christian Church in Las Henderson, Nev. (No. 20) and our One to Watch: Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind. The growth rankings reflect the corrected list.

In his analysis, Dr. Stetzer identifies five key church growth megatrends that will continue to impact churches of all sizes across the United States:

Megatrend No. 1 – Rapid growth: Churches today are growing at a more rapid rate than at any other time in history. In 1970 only 10 American churches with more than 2,000 attendees existed. According to Hartford Institute for Religious Research, today there are more than 1,300—up from 835 in 2003.

Megatrend No. 2 —Multi-site technology: Churches today are increasingly creative in their use of time and space. U.S. churches are holding as many as six to seven or more weekend services with even large churches giving their services a smaller church “feel” while targeting niche audiences. Multi-site technology has allowed churches to expand across city, state and even national borders. Multi-site facts:
• According to LifeWay Research, in 2000 only 5% of all U.S. megachurches had multiple locations. Today, 25% of all megachurches have more than one site, and experts are predicting that by 2010, 50% of all megachurches will be multi-site.
• Currently, seven of the top 10 U.S. churches on the Outreach 100 Largest list are multi-site churches

Megatrend No. 3 —Political action in new ways: While Christian churches have long been perceived as monolithically right wing, today, more of them are using their platform to tackle issues not historically connected with those of the Religious Right. Church leaders like Saddleback Church Senior Pastor Rick Warren and Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northand, A Church Distributed in suburban Orlando, are championing issues such as eliminating poverty and creation care. These leaders represent a new vision of holistic social justice, including abortion and traditional family issues, as well as the challenges of poverty and creation care.

Megatrend No. 4 – Ethnic diversity: The escalating ethnic diversity in the U.S. population is becoming increasingly reflected in American churches as the Hispanic and Asian populations continue to increase in the United States.

Megatrend No. 5 – Return to discipleship: Many megachurches today are recalibrating their core purpose–returning to the foundational ethic of multiplication through discipleship rather an emphasis on personal self-help and church growth methods.

Fast Facts on the Top 100 Largest & Fastest-growing Churches in America (includes revised growth rankings)
1) The state with the most churches on the Largest list (22) is California. Texas has 16.
2) Some 1,016,926 people are represented by the combined attendance of the Outreach 100 Largest U.S. churches. More than a half-million people attended a Fastest-Growing church in 2007.
3) The youngest church on the Fastest-Growing list is Elevation Church, Charlotte, N.C. (No. 8), founded in 2006.
4) The youngest churches on the Largest list are Gateway Church, Southlake, Texas (No. 74); NewSpring Church, Anderson, S.C. (No. 50); and The Rock Church, San Diego (No. 76). All were founded in 2000.
5) The oldest church on the Largest list is The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, Jamaica, N.Y. (No. 20), founded in 1837.
6) 11 churches on the Largest list have sites in different states than the church’s main campus.
7) One church on the Fastest-Growing list has an international site: Flamingo Road Baptist Church, Cooper City, Fla. (No. 10), opened a site in Lima, Peru.
8) The 101 churches on the Fastest-Growing list grew four times faster than the 100 churches on the Largest list grew.
9) From 2006 to 2007, the average growth of the 101 churches on the Fastest-Growing list was 1,385 attendees.
10) The largest increase in attendance at any one church on the Fastest-Growing list was 4,750 attendees at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. (No. 9).

Top 10 Largest U.S. Churches
1) Lakewood Church, Houston Texas, Joel Osteen, pastor (47,000)
2) Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill., Bill Hybels (23,500)
3) Second Baptist Church, Houston, Ed Young Sr. (23,198)
4) Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, Calif., Rick Warren (22,000)
5) LifeChurch.tv, Edmond, Okla., Craig Groeschel (19,907)
6) Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky., Dave Stone (18,013)
7) North Point Church, Alpharetta, Ga., Andy Stanley (17,700)
8) Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va., Jonathan Falwell (17.445)
9) Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Bob Coy (17,000)
& The Potter’s House, Dallas, T.D. Jakes (17,000)

Top 10 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches (includes revised growth rankings)
1) Iglesia Cristiana Segadores de Vida, Hollywood, Fla., Ruddy and Maria Gracia (numeric growth: 3,050, percentage growth: 109%)
2) Community of Faith, Spring, Texas, Mark Shook (growth: 2,200, 163%)
3) Valley Bible Fellowship, Bakersville, Calif., Ron Vietti (growth: 3,600, 52%)
4) Community Christian Church, Naperville, Ill., Dave Ferguson (growth: 2,230, 81%)
5) The ROC (Richmond Outreach Center), Richmond, Va., Geronimo Aguilar (growth: 2,100, 100%)
6) New Life Church, Conway, Ark., Rick Bezet (growth: 2,000, 108%)
7) Living Hope Church, Vancouver, Wash., John Bishop (growth: 2,223, 75%)
8) Elevation Church, Charlotte, N.C., Steven Furtick (growth: 1,965, 444%)
9) Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va., Jonathan Falwell (growth: 4,750, 37%)
10)  Flamingo Road Baptist Church, Cooper City, Fla., Troy Gramling (growth; 2040, 51%)

The 2007 Outreach 100 report on America’s largest and fastest-growing churches appears in the Outreach 100 Special Issue of Outreach magazine. Issue copies are available to news media on request.

San Diego, California-based Outreach magazine offers the ideas, insights and stories of today’s outreach-oriented church. First published in January 2003 by Outreach, Inc., Outreach is one of the fastest-growing periodicals for church leadership based on circulation. Outreach is available by subscription or in many Christian and general periodical retailers through Ingram Periodicals Distribution. For information, subscriptions or advertising, visit www.Outreachmagazine.com.


The Outreach 100 lists were compiled by Dr. Ed Stetzer in association with LifeWay Research and include only Protestant churches—as defined by the American Religious Data Archive—that opted to participate in the study. All ranks and attendance statistics based on self-reported data from denominations/networks and individual Protestant churches compiled June 2007. All rights reserved. Outreach 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches. All ranks and growth statistics based on average of self-reported annual numerical and percentage growth compiled June 2007. All rights reserved. Revised List publication Oct. 8, 2007. Research compiled by LifeWay Research. Outreach and LifeWay are not responsible for errors/discrepancies in self-reported data or churches not opting to report.