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Megachurches Getting Even Bigger as Congregations Nationwide Close Their Doors

Something clicked for Marlena Bhame when she first stepped into Liquid Church about four years ago. She’d been searching for something more spiritually dynamic and meaningful than the faith tradition she’d grown up in, or the various others she had tried out over the years.

When Bhame, who was raised in the evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance tradition, arrived at the church in Parsippany, N.J., she was immediately struck by a feeling of belonging. The congregation mostly looked like her — a lot of millennials and Gen Z — and everyone seemed enthusiastic about being there.

“I was blown away by the amount of young people,” she says.

Liquid Church has helped Bhame, 28, and others like her find meaning even as many in her generation have turned away from organized religion. It is one of about 1,800 “megachurches” in the United States — defined as having 2,000 or more members. At a time when empty pews are forcing churches across the country to shutter, these mostly nondenominational houses of worship are largely bucking that trend — attracting younger, more vibrant and more diverse congregations.

The average Christian congregation in the U.S. is in precipitous decline, with just 65 members, about a third of whom are age 65 or older, according to a 2020 pre-pandemic survey. By contrast, a separate 2020 study found that three-quarters of megachurches were growing, many at a rapid clip.

Experts say these trends have continued since the start of the pandemic. Liquid Church claims 6,000 members, 84% of whom are under the age of 55, with most younger than 35. About a quarter of members are Hispanic/Latino, 13% Asian and 8% Black.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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