Architectural eyesores. Overflowing parking lots. Sunday morning traffic. Behold the megachurch as often viewed through the eyes of suspicious local residents. More than a weekly gathering place for worship or a quiet sanctuary for midweek devotions, large evangelical churches are becoming lifestyle brands, buzzing communities with perpetual religious activity. What's more, they're increasing.
A recent study from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research reveals that the number of U.S. congregations with an average weekly attendance of at least 2,000 people has more than doubled in the past five years. That dramatic spike to roughly 1,200 megachurches nationwide represents the sharpest growth since such massive blocs of parishioners first began materializing in the 1970s.Predictably, civil opposition and the number of community grievances have spiked as well. Read More.