Houston/ Community & Society
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 22, 2024
Texas Hosts 210 Megachurches: Houston Leads with 37, Lakewood Church Attracts 45,000 BelieversSource: Google Street View

Texas megachurches are standing tall and numerous, with the Houston Chronicle revealing that Texas hosts a heavenly host of 210 such religious behemoths. These institutions are not just oversized prayer halls but also centers of social and sometimes political life. According to a 2020 survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, a megachurch is defined by an average weekly congregation of 2,000 or more believers – and Texas, trailing behind only California, has them aplenty.

Digging a bit deeper into the pews of Houston's holy houses, the city boasts 37 megachurches, crowned by the Lakewood Church with a spirited flock of around 45,000 attendees. This comes from data hailing from a 2015 report by the very same Hartford Institute for Religious Research, as highlighted in an older edition of the Houston Chronicle.

Spotlighting Houston's top megachurches, chron.com provides a closer look at the community's most popular places of worship – where leaders like Pastor Joel Osteen spread the word to masses that might rival the population of some small towns. Chron.com lists several other sanctuaries of faith including Woodlands Church, Second Baptist Church, and New Light Christian Center Church, among others.

When examining the denomination breakdown, it was noted that 40% of these megachurches choose the path of nondenominational worshipers, aligning with the trend of distancing from traditional denominational ties. In terms of denominational affiliation, the Houston Chronicle reports that Southern Baptist churches make up 16%, unspecified Baptist 7%, Assemblies of God 6%, and the list continues. Despite formal associations, many of these megachurches prize their independent operations, steering clear of a centralized religious authority figure akin to the one found in Catholicism.

It’s worth mentioning that the influence of megachurches may extend beyond the spiritual realm and into the political sphere, albeit rarely. The Houston Chronicle notes, culled from the Hartford study, that a mere 7% of megachurches engage in forming groups or hosting events for political discourse. This implies that while an occasional controversial statement, such as "Recently, Second Baptist Pastor Ed Young called migrants “garbage” in a Sunday sermon" may hit the headlines, most of these religious giants prefer to keep politics out of the pulpit.