Special Report

25 Most Popular Churches in America

Source: Courtesy Church of the Highlands / Facebook

10. Church of the Highlands
> Location: Birmingham, AL
> Pastor: Chris Hodges
> Average weekly attendance: 22,184
> Denomination: Independent, Nondenominational

Alabama’s largest church, Church of the Highlands, has more than 20 locations plus an online presence. Founded by Pastor Chris Hodges in 2001, the congregation’s first meeting place was a high school auditorium. By 2007, the church had moved to its 2,400-seat main campus. The church-run Highlands College, offering training for ministry, has applied for accreditation by the Association for Biblical Higher Education.

Source: Courtesy Elevation Church / Facebook

9. Elevation Church
> Location: Matthews, NC
> Pastor: Steven Furtick
> Average weekly attendance: 22,200
> Denomination: Independent, Nondenominational

Elevation’s worship services have been compared to rock shows, complete with strobes, wailing guitars, and sing-along crowds, sometimes in venues that feel more like concert halls than a typical church. The comparison doesn’t end there: The Elevation Store offers rock-tour-style merchandize such as T-shirts, hoodies, CDs, and brightly colored vinyl albums. Founded in 2006 by Steven Furtick, Elevation now has more than 20 locations and a following most rockers would envy at weekly attendance breaking 20,000, plus a strong online presence.

Source: Courtesy NewSpring Church / Facebook

8. NewSpring Church
> Location: Anderson, SC
> Pastor: Brad Cooper
> Average weekly attendance: 23,055
> Denomination: Baptist (unspecified)

NewSpring has the largest attendance of any churche in South Carolina, with 14 locations and weekly attendance topping 23,000. The church has found itself in the news in recent years, notably in 2016, when founding pastor Perry Noble was terminated for alcohol dependence, and again earlier this year, when a volunteer was charged with sexually abusing children at the church.

Source: Courtesy Christ's Church of the Valley / Facebook

7. Christ’s Church of the Valley
> Location: Peoria, AZ
> Pastor: Don Wilson
> Average weekly attendance: 23,395
> Denomination: Independent Christian Churches or unspecified

The church got its start in 1982. Like several other megachurches, the original gatherings were held in the living room of its founding pastor, in this case Don Wilson, who led the congregation until his retirement in 2017. The church now has 10 locations and is led by Wilson’s designated successor, Senior Pastor Ashley Wooldridge, who has served at the church since 2007.

Source: Courtesy Fellowship Church / Facebook

6. Fellowship Church
> Location: Grapevine, TX
> Pastor: Ed Young
> Average weekly attendance: 24,162
> Denomination: Southern Baptist Convention

Fellowship’s founding pastor, Ed Young, is a second-generation megachurch leader, named after his father, H. Edwin Young, leader of Houston’s Second Baptist. Fellowship’s website advises visitors to “forget everything you’ve ever thought of when it comes to church.” Though Fellowship offers worship services, counseling, meet-up groups, and other familiar activities at its nine locations, its pastor has garnered attention as the author of 15 books — with titles including “50 Shades of They” and “Sexperiment” — and for founding the PastorFashion.com website.

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