We already told you about the nation's most "Bible-minded" cities -- localities in which individuals have a high rate of Bible readership and belief in the the holy book's sentiments and central themes. Following the release of the aforementioned results, the Barna Group, a research firm, has also shared data about the nation's most "megachurch-oriented" cities.
While Christian megachurches have experienced a great deal of growth in the U.S., only 10 percent of self-identified Christians attend a house of worship that qualifies under this label (generally these churches are known for having large-scale congregations). With so many definitions of these massive houses of worship floating around, Barna specifically defined these churches in its research as institutions that have 1,000 congregants -- or more.
Photo Credit: AP
In examining these institutions, which may, in fact, be relatively foreign to the vast majority of Christians, the Barna group came to some fascinating conclusions in pinpointing which U.S. cities are the "most and least megachurch-oriented." Based on its results, researchers drafted a list of cities that have the highest proportion of Christians attending megachurches. A recap of the results is somewhat surprising -- especially the city that was found to have the largest proportion:
The research shows that Las Vegas, NV has the highest concentration of megachurch attenders among the Christians who reside in the market (29% of all Christians who live in the region attend a church of at least 1,000 attenders). The second-ranked market was Baton Rouge, LA (27%). Two Florida cities made the top of the list, including Tampa-St. Petersburg (21%) and Orlando (18%). Texas also contributed two cities to the rankings: Dallas, Fort Worth (19%) and Houston (19%). The New Mexico corridor of Albuquerque, Sante Fe (19%) also places in the top seven cities.
The bottom three markets included Madison, WI, Toledo, OH, and Salt Lake City, UT. In each of these three markets, only 1% of Christians reported attending a megachurch.
Considering that the national average is 10 percent, Las Vegas' 29 percent is noteworthy -- but so are at least six other cities that fall above that average. Here's a ranking of the top seven cities, below:
Photo Credit: Barna Group
It's important to note that the level to which a city is "megachurch-oriented" has little to do with the level of faith and religion that is embraced within its boundaries. In fact, if you compare the "Bible-minded" cities to those listed above, you'll find that none of the localities in the top seven for being megachurch-friendly are found among the most likely to adhere to and revere the Bible. Plainly stated: The two indicators are not mutually-exclusive.
Las Vegas, for instance, ranks number one for most "megachurch-oriented," but it is 86th when it comes to being "Bible-minded." And Orlando is 7th on the former list and 64th on the latter. Culture is, quite obviously, a factor that impacts city rankings in both lists.
(H/T: Christian Post)