15 churches over 1,000 in worship attendance
10 of these churches are on five districts (Eastern Michigan, Northeastern Indiana, Northwestern Indiana, South Central Ohio, Southwestern Ohio)
5 are in Ohio | 4 in Indiana | 3 in Michigan | 1 each in Illinois, Kansas, and North Dakota
These churches also claim
One of every 20 members (5.5%, 20,596 of 375,514)
One of every 10 worship attenders (13%, 21,185 of 163,314)
I am not a fan of making a big deal out of large churches. I do not believe that "bigger is always better." This is a north American fallacy. Church leaders should be weaned from this notion.
I do not believe large churches should be considered leading indicators of spiritual health or missional capacity in relation to districts, associations, or denominations. Large churches have a role to play but it has to be put into proper perspective.
A while ago, I was talking to a friend on staff at one of the large churches in the Great Lakes. He told me they usually do not participate in district events because they overwhelm the planners and leaders with the sheer size of their group. They cannot bring 250 children to a camp with 250 campers from smaller churches. To even do this, the large church needs its own planners, counselors, and volunteer drivers. Once they are finished with these efforts, they might as well plan their own events. They usually do.
Treating large churches as the major leagues supplied by a farm system of smaller churches is not healthy. They do not want to be viewed this way, either. They just do things in a much larger scale. They plan monthly events that most pastors and church volunteers might encounter once a year at district assembly. They plan worship services weekly that most church workers would only see at the annual camp meeting. They organize a weekly army of children's volunteers that are five times larger than entire congregations on the district.
Large churches are basically districts in a building.
We attended and became members of one of the large churches in the Great Lakes megaregion. Our adult Sunday School class was larger than 80% of the local churches in the megaregion. Leadership of the large church at a district assembly or denominational event will sometimes feel like an outsider at a family reunion. This is why I think large churches need to be separated from district oversight and into direct relationship to the regional office.
Regionally planned gatherings can bring together churches of this size to spend time learning from one another as they deal with similar issues. They need a place where denominational officials, who may not have expertise with large church leadership, can listen in and seek out how to pray for those in the large church. In this kind of gathering, large church leaders would be better able to coordinate efforts to develop partnerships and compassionate ministries in other parts of the world.
Large churches make a unique contribution to the missional task of the church. They can become providers of curriculum resources, partners in global missionary tasks, trainers of worship leaders and technical expertise, influential liaisons for compassionate ministries in their regional locales, organizers for clergy training and spiritual renewal retreats, and spiritual nourishers of missional leaders in their contexts producing high-quality podcasts and digital publications for their own congregants but also for smaller church leadership.
Smaller churches should not aspire to become like large churches. Rather, they should become circles of missional impact within their own contexts. Large churches can help make this happen. They can become nodal points in relational pathways guiding people toward the light of the LORD (Micah 7:7-8).
Below is a video clip of a worship service at Grove City Nazarene, the largest church in the Great Lakes megaregion and the US/Canada Region of the Church of the Nazarene.
Large Churches Infograph
Great Lakes Megaregion