Florida churches make Outreach/LifeWay top 100

Twenty Southern Baptist congregations are among the 2016 top 100 fastest-growing and largest-participating churches in the United States, with NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., ranking highest in both categories among Southern Baptists.

In the lists compiled annually in collaboration between Outreach Magazine and LifeWay Christian Resources, NewSpring Church ranks third on the largest-participating churches list and eighth among the fastest-growing churches named in Outreach's October issue.

NewSpring, under the leadership of interim senior pastor Clayton King, reported an average attendance of 33,761 and a 21 percent growth of 5,925, according to the list.

The nearest Southern Baptist church in growth was Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ark., the pastorate of Archie Mason, ranking No. 11 and reporting a 30 percent growth of 958 in its attendance of 4,203. It was followed closely by Beltway Park Church in Abilene, Texas, the pastorate of David McQueen, ranking 15 and recording 25 percent growth of 966 for an average attendance of 4,836.

In participation, Saddleback Church, the pastorate of Rick Warren in Lake Forest, Calif., was the second-highest Southern Baptist church, ranking fifth with an attendance of 25,612. Elevation Church in Matthews, N.C., under the leadership of Steven Furtick, followed closely at No. 11 with 21,146 in attendance.

In the self-reported survey, LifeWay Research surveys 27,000 churches for information, verifies the numbers, calculates the results and compiles the lists. In turn, Outreach interviews many pastors and writes features profiling churches and leaders.

Southern Baptist churches achieved higher rankings in the category of participation than in the area of growth, Outreach and LifeWay found. Each list includes 20 Southern Baptist congregations, with seven of those churches ranking in the top 100 on both lists. All numbers are based on attendance, not official membership, according to the report, and captures numbers from February and March 2015, excluding Easter Sunday.

"Although we go to great lengths to confirm data, the information is reported by pastors, staff or church officers, and as such, reflects their perception—their churches as they see them," Outreach said in its October issue. "The 2015 fastest-growing list includes surveyed churches with attendance greater than 1,000, a numerical gain of 150 or more and a percentage gain of at least 4 percent. The 2015 largest list includes all churches participating in the survey with attendance of 5,269 or more."

Second Baptist Church in Houston, led by H. Edwin Young, ranked 13th in participation with 20,698 in attendance; Woodlands Church in The Woodlands, Texas, pastored by Kerry Shook, ranked 14 with 19,430 in attendance; and Lake Pointe Church pastored by Steve Stroope in Rockwall, Texas, ranked 28 in participation with 12,185 in attendance.

Other top 100 Southern Baptist churches in participation are Potential Church in Cooper City, Fla., the pastorate of Troy Gramling, ranking 35 with 10,598 in attendance; The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, pastored by Matt Chandler, No. 36 with 10,340 in attendance; Pinelake Church in Brandon, Miss., pastored by Chip Henderson, No. 37 with 9,845 in attendance; The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., the pastorate of J.D. Greear, No. 42 with 9,437 in attendance; Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., the pastorate of immediate past Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, No. 45 with 9,033 in attendance, and Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Fla., the pastorate of David Hughes, No. 46 with 8,486 in attendance.

Rounding out Southern Baptist churches in the top 100 in participation, according to the list, are Houston's First Baptist Church under the leadership of Gregg Matte, No. 51 with 8,237 in attendance; Biltmore Church in Arden, N.C., pastored by Bruce Frank, No. 63 with 7,490 in attendance; Bellevue Baptist Church, the pastorate of SBC President Steve Gaines, No. 65 with 7,329 in attendance; Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., pastored by David Jeremiah, No. 67 with 7,276 in attendance; Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, the pastorate of Matthew Carter, No. 72 with 6,881 in attendance;

Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., pastored by Robby Gallaty, No. 76 with 6,582 in attendance; Sandals Church in Riverside, Calif., pastored by Matt Brown, No. 83 with 6,333 in attendance; and The Church Without Walls in Houston, the pastorate of Ralph D. West, No. 90 with 6,010 in attendance.

Among the fastest-growing churches, Southern Baptists ranking below the top three in the denomination are Elevation Church, which ranked 18th with an 18 percent growth of 3,268 for an attendance of 21,146; Mercy Hill Church, Greensboro, N.C., the pastorate of Andrew Hopper, ranking 25, growing 48 percent in attendance and adding 487 worshippers for an average of 1,500; Calvary Fellowship in Miramar, Fla., pastored by Bob Franquiz, ranking 31 with a 26 percent growth of 538 for an average attendance of 2,632; and Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., led by Grant Ethridge, at No. 35, growing by 18 percent to add 802 for an average attendance of 5,282.

Others recording high growth are Bethlehem Church in Bethlehem, Ga., the pastorate of Jason Britt, ranking 38 with a 28 percent growth of 466 for an average attendance of 2,160; TrueNorth Church of North Augusta, S.C., the pastorate of Steve Davis, ranking 42 with a 26 percent growth of 458 and averaging 2,237 in attendance; Sandals Church, at No. 45, recording a 16 percent growth of 868 for an average attendance of 6,333; and The Summit Church, ranking 46 with a growth of 14 percent, 1,162, for an average attendance of 9,437.

Rounding out Southern Baptists among the fastest-growing churches are Lake Pointe Church, No. 53, growing 12 percent with 1,286 new attendees for an average attendance of 12,185; Lifepoint Church in Lewis Center, Ohio, pastored by Dean Fulks and ranking 58, with a 24 percent growth of 405 for 2,112 in attendance; Pinelake Church, ranking 60, recording a 12 percent growth of 1,054 and averaging 9,845 in attendance;

Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Moore, S.C., pastored by D.J. Horton, No. 61, reporting 19 percent growth of 501, average attendance of 3,167; Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, pastored by Mark S. Hartman, No. 68, recording 16 percent growth of 568 and averaging 4,229 in attendance; Biltmore Church, No. 77, recording 12 percent growth of 787 and averaging 7,490 in attendance;

The Summit Church of North Little Rock, Ark., the pastorate of Bill Elliff, ranking 94, recording a 19 percent growth of 262, averaging 1,610 in attendance; theChurch.at in Broken Arrow, Okla., pastored by Alex Himaya, ranking 96, reporting a 12 percent growth of 485, averaging 4,677 in attendance; and Rock Bridge Community Church in Dalton, Ga., pastorate of Matt Evans, ranking 99, reporting a 12 percent growth of 485 for an average attendance of 3,864.

The full lists and accompanying features are online at http://www.outreachmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016_Outreach100-Summary.pdf.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP (bpnews.net) reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.

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