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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Megachurch myths

They’re nondenominational, homogeneous churches with all show and little depth. But wait! Scholar Scott Thumma is out to break the stereotypes of megachurches with his book, Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn From America’s Largest Churches (Jossey-Bass, 2007).

Mark Grorud, ELCA director for relationships with large membership congregations, said myths about large congregations abound. “One of the most troubling I’ve heard is that large congregations are ‘wide and shallow’—a lot of people and publicity, but not much substance.”

Grorud said the opposite is true: “Large congregations have a strength and depth when it comes to outreach in communities, innovation in education and worship, missional evangelism ....”

A megachurch is generally defined as having worship attendance of 2,000. According to ELCA Research and Evaluation, 10 ELCA congregations fall into that category:

Mount Olivet, Minneapolis

Hope, Des Moines, Iowa

Hosanna, Lakeville, Minn.

Prince of Peace, Burnsville, Minn.

St. Andrew, Mahtomedi, Minn.

Upper Arlington, Columbus, Ohio

Calvary, Golden Valley, Minn.

Hope, Fargo, N.D.

Shepherd of the Valley, Apple Valley, Minn.

St. Philip the Deacon, Plymouth, Minn. M


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