Large Churches and Missional Centers | Nazarene Presence in the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion (1898-2017)
The significance of these infographs is found in the first first data point:
There is only one church in this megaregion that is over 1,000 in worship attendance. But that's only part of it.
There is an even more startling statistic:
Three people attending worship out of every 100 in this megaregion are attending this particular church: Nashville (TN) First Church of the Nazarene.
Notably, only three churches in the top 20 in worship attendance were started after 1950 in 1977, 1990, and 2016. One of them is a predominantly Hispanic congregation.
There are also only five other churches over 500 in attendance, and three of them are in the vicinity of Nashville, Tennessee. The other two are less than 80 miles apart along I-20 in South Carolina. This is important because I consider churches between 500 to 900 as missional centers: hubs of missional activity like leadership and discipleship training, financial anchors, mission support. These churches become a critical mass for new works to be developed. There's only five and in only two locations along a long geographic setting in which Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, Knoxville, and Memphis, as well as Nashville, need to have missional impact throughout the megaregion.
One of every ten members and worship attendees will be in these six churches on an average Sunday morning in the Piedmont Atlantic megaregion.
There are only 136 churches that average more than 75 in attendance. I consider this number to signify a sustainable congregation that can support missional endeavors, a full-time pastor and some sort of meeting space. I do not believe this kind of church is necessarily the goal but if not then there needs to be openness to more organic forms of ministry or a re-consideration in how the mission is funded.
The geographic center is along I-85 to the northeast of Atlanta in Commerce, Georgia.