Report Finds U.S. Megachurches Are Becoming Increasingly Diverse and Emphasizing Special Needs Ministries

The Mountainside Campus of Liquid Church, located in Mountainside, New Jersey. | Courtesy Liquid Church

Megachurches are becoming increasingly multiracial and emphasizing special needs ministries, which are positive trends smaller churches will likely begin to follow, a new study has found.

“Megachurch 2020,” a survey conducted by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability in partnership with the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, looked at significant patterns and trends from 582 churches across the United States. It’s the nation’s largest study of megachurches, defined as churches with an attendance of 2,000 or greater.

More than half of churches surveyed (58%) report being multiracial, defined as having 20% or more minority presence in their congregation. Two decades ago, only 21% of megachurches were multiracial.

In conducting research for the survey, Warren Bird, vice president of research and equipping at ECFA and co-author of the report, told The Christian Post he discovered that “intentionality is essential for becoming multiracial.”

“It’s not enough to state it as a core value. It’s not enough to agree that it’s important. Churches have to take intentional steps to become multiracial, such as the people that are platformed on Sunday mornings: Do they represent the diversity of the neighborhood they’re seeking to reach? The staff that is hired in the church and on the board in the church: Are they likewise appropriately diverse?”

“When you have intentionality like that, the non-majority races tend to grow into becoming a multiethnic church,” he added.

The report also found that megachurches that draw people with special needs are very intentional about doing so. When asked what emphasis they put on a special needs ministry, a third of megachurches indicated a lot of program emphasis, with 53% having some emphasis and only 17% having none.

Nearly 100% of megachurch respondents included wheelchair access throughout the building; nearly half (48%) had hearing assistance devices; some 44% offered sign language interpretation, and 15% provided large print worship materials.

Once again, the statistics show an “intentionality” on the part of megachurches, Bird said.

“What often happens in churches of all sizes is when one family that’s being served grows to two families, they invite their friends, which goes to three, four, or five families, which now begins to gain momentum,” he explained.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett

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