Jesus made giving up one's possessions and distributing wealth among the poor a central part of his message. Despite this cornerstone of his teachings, the idea of a “megachurch” seems to have all but ignored this aspect of his gospel. The modern development of the megachurch is now translating to megabusiness. These places of worship are slowly taking over as small denominations are consistently shutting down all across America. The effect is similar to the one that has accompanied the rise of corporate America. Megachurches are growing at a rate of 8 percent every year. They have been accused of creating economic empires by some, drawing away devoted worshippers at local churches with their flash and glamour.
The average megachurch will play host to more than 2000 people every week. They are also exempt from taxes up to $7.2 billion dollars each year, allowing them to gather extraordinary income. These churches often seem to be under the leadership of a single charismatic pastor as well. The typical leader gains something akin to celebrity status among the community and region in which they are established.
In order to address just how “mega” these megachurches can become, consider the largest one in the world; The Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea has an annual budget of $200 million, and their membership is around 850,000 people. In America, the largest megachurch is located in Houston, Texas and is under the leadership of Joel Osteen. They have drawn in close to 43,500 members and work with an annual budget of $70 million. The distribution of these types of churches differs throughout the United States. The Southern portion of the country leads the way by being home to 49 percent of megachurches while the Northeast comes in last, accounting for only 7 percent.
When looking at the attendees, the demographics are unbalanced. The Caucasian race accounts for 82 percent, 10 percent are African American, 2 percent are Asian, and a mere 1 percent are Hispanic.