Home > Emmanuel Research Review > Issue No. 55

Emmanuel Research Review

Resources for the urban pastor and community leader
published by Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston
Issue No. 20 - May 2010

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Home > Emmanuel Research Review > Issue No. 20

Emmanuel Research Review

Resources for the urban pastor and community leader
published by Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston
Issue No. 20 — September 2006

archive | contact | subscribe/unsubscribe

The Emmanuel Research Review is a publication of the Emmanuel Gospel Center. The Review features articles, papers, resources, and information that we believe are helpful and relevant to urban pastors, leaders, and community members in their efforts to serve their communities effectively.

The Emmanuel Research Review is a publication of the Emmanuel Gospel Center, and features articles, papers, resources, and information that we believe are helpful and relevant to urban pastors, leaders, and community members in their efforts to serve their communities effectively.

In this issue—
Mega-Churches as Indicators of Change in World Christianity

Jeff BassIntroduction

by Jeff Bass
Executive Director
Emmanuel Gospel Center

It has been well-documented that Christianity in the 21st Century is growing most rapidly in the non-Western world. Books like The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, by Philip Jenkins, describe the vitality of the church in what he refers to as the South, namely South America, Africa, and Asia. Boston’s own Quiet Revival has been fueled by immigrants from these regions bringing vital Christianity to our city and renewing churches here.

Evidence of this significant shift is also seen in the emergence of mega-churches in the non-Western world. In fact, the 20 largest churches in the world are located outside the Western World. In this issue of the Emmanuel Research Review we have included tables of the largest churches in the world and the United States, lists of the characteristics of mega-churches and Christianity in the world, and a profile of the largest church in the world as shared in a lecture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Boston extension, The Center for Urban Ministerial Education, in September, 2006, by Dr. Elijah Kim, who has attended that church on many occasions.

After planting a church in their native Korea, Rev. Kim and his wife, Amy, were sent as missionaries by the Korean Assemblies of God to the Philippines in 1992, where they planted an urban church. Dr. Kim earned his Ph.D. in Theology in 2004 from the University of Birmingham, England, and is currently the Director of the Vitality Project at the Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston.

Notes on Christianity in the World

by Rev. Elijah J.F. Kim, Ph.D.

What is happening in contemporary Christianity?

  • At the dawn of the 20th Century, 50% of the world’s Christians were located in the Western world
  • Now in the 21st Century, more than 50% of the world’s Christians are located in the Non-Western world
  • The 20 largest churches in the world are located outside the Western world
  • Between 1960 and 1990, several countries in Africa and South America experienced rapid growth in Christianity as Western missionaries left.

What are the largest churches in the United States of America?

The Largest Churches in the United Stated of America



Church Name & Location

Avg. Attendance


J. Osteen

Lakewood Church, Houston, TX



Creflo Dollar

World Changers, College Park, GA



Rick Warren

Saddleback Community Church, Lake Forest, CA



T.D. Jakes

The Potters House, Dallas, TX



Ed Young

Fellowship Church, Grapevine, TX


Source: statistical content from DAWN News Around the World (2004, #36).

What are the largest churches in the world?

The Largest Churches in the World



Church Name


Avg. Attendance


Yonggi Cho

Yoido Full Gospel Church

Seoul, Korea



Dijon Roberts

Work and Mission Baptists Church

Abidjan, Ivory Coast



Yotabeche Vasquez

Yotabeche Methodist P. Church

Santiago, Chile



C. Castellanos

Mission Carismatica Internacional

Bogata, Colombia



William Kumuyi

Deeper Life Bible Church

Lagos, Nigeria



Mario Vega

Elim Church

San Salvador, El Salvador




Nambu Full Gospel Church




Yongmok Cho

Assembly of God Grace and Truth

Kyonggi-do, Korea



Hongdo Kim

Kum Ran Methodist Church

Seoul, Korea



Omar Cabrera

Vision de Futuro

Santa Fe, Argentina



Hector Gimenez

Ondas del Luz

Buenos Aries, Argentina



Pastor Oh

Youngrak Presbyterian Church

Seoul, Korea



David Oyedepa

Winners Chapel

Ota, Nigeria



R. B. Lai

Yesu Darbar, Allahabad Agricultural Institute




Ho Moon Lee

Soong Eui Methodist Church

Incheon, Korea



Misael Argenal

Ministerio La Cosecha

San Pedro Sula, Honduras



V. Choudhrie

Chattisgarh/Madhya Pradesh House Church Network



Source: statistical content from DAWN News Around the World (2004, #36).

What are the common characteristics of mega churches in the world?

  • Urban- and suburban-centered
  • Praying church
  • Revival emphasis
  • Pentecostal/charismatic in worship (enthusiastic in praise and worship experience)
  • Evangelical in creed and theology
  • Eschatology recognizes the coming of Christ
  • Evangelism-oriented
  • Strong pastoral leadership
  • Local, indigenous leadership
  • Relatively young/new church
  • Less dependent on denominational affiliation and identity/more independent church
  • Vision-driven ministry
  • Strong emphasis in domestic and overseas mission
  • Third world churches rather than Western world churches.

What are some of the characteristics of Christianity in the world today?

  • Decline of Christianity in the Western world
  • Decline of mainline denominations (i.e. Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, United Church of Christ)
  • Decline of state churches (i.e. Lutheran, Free Reformed, and Orthodox Churches)
  • Increase of the Islamic world (Asia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia)
  • Increase of Third world Christianity (Latin America, Africa, and Asia)
  • Rapid changes of mission forces from the Western world to the Third world (i.e. UK, Germany, Holland, USA, Korea, Brazil, Nigeria)
  • Dramatic growth of Pentecostal/Charismatic movements
  • Emergence of newer and indigenous churches (African Initiative Church, indigenous Latin American churches, and independent Asian churches)
  • Secularization of European and North American Christianity
  • Commercialization of Third world Christianity
  • Three types of Christian churches: ecumenical, evangelical, and independent
  • Leadership of world church influenced/governed by Western declining church
  • New challenges of religious pluralism, religious humanism, religious dialogue, secularism, and diverse intellectualism.

Church Profile: Yoido Full Gospel Church


  • Largest church in the world
  • 841,087+ Members
  • 470 Pastors (185 ordained, 283 licensed, and 2 pastoral interns in 2002)
  • 7,220 Senior leaders (provide oversight of 5-8 home cell groups)
  • 19,515 Home cell groups (each composed of 5-10 households)
  • 617 Overseas missionaries (56 countries, 764 churches, 81,542 members in 2006)
  • $100+ Million budget
  • Location/geographic organization: 16 districts, 21 regional chapels, and 353 sub-districts (each sub-district contains about 15-20 sections).

Church History:

  • 1958-1961, Early years, 5 to 108 members
  • 1961-1973, Seodaemun Church, 1,218 to 10,970 members
  • 1973-present, Yoido Church, 12,556 to 841,087 members (2003).


  • Fivefold Gospel: renewal or salvation, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, healing, blessing, and the Second Coming of Christ
  • Threefold Blessing: material wealth, good health, and salvation for the soul.

Characteristics of David Cho’s Ministry:

  • Powerful message
  • Divine healing ministry
  • Prayer Movement and Prayer Mountain
  • Holy Spirit baptism accompanied by speaking in tongues
  • Home cell groups
  • Mass media (newspaper, broadcasting, and books).

Church Ministries:

  • Cell groups
  • Prayer Mountain (1973) http://english.fgtv.com/ (click on Prayer Mountain link)
  • Church Growth International (1976) http://churchgrowthint.homestead.com/home.html
  • World Evangelical Center (1977)
  • Television studio (1981), national and international broadcasting
  • International Theological Institute (formerly, Full Gospel Education Research Institute) includes: Theological Research Center, Ministry Research Center, Educational Institute, Full Gospel Theological Academy, Continuing Education Center, Bible Reading School, and Youngsan Theological Institute
  • Institute for Church Growth (1993) includes: publication of monthly magazine Church Growth and other lay leadership publications, Church Growth Leadership Academy and Church Growth Minister’s Seminary, internet ministry http://pastor21.net/, Church Equipping Network, Professionals Network, and Research Project Ministries
  • Universities: Hansei University http://www.hansei.ac.kr/, Bethesda Christian University http://www.bcu.edu/, Global University http://www.globaluniversity.edu/, and Full Gospel Theological Seminary http://www.fgts.org/
  • Publications: books of Cho including: The Fourth Dimension (1979), The Successful Home Church Cell Group (1981), Prayer: Key to Revival (1984), and Prosperity: Our Three-Fold Blessing in Christ (1987)
  • Elim Welfare Town/Center (1986): Elderly Care Center, Young Professional Job Training, Homeless Job Ministry, and Unemployed Training
  • Good People World Family http://www.goodpeople.or.kr/: an NGO providing a variety of services including: social welfare, education, cultural works, environmental works, medical assistance, development and research, international networking, information technology, publishing, homeless ministry, distribution of food and goods for the poor, North Korean relief ministry and an international urgent relief team ministry
  • Christian Memorial Park Funeral Service http://www.fgcmp.com/
  • Kukmin Daily Newspaper (1989) http://www.kukinews.com/ (daily circulation in 1994 was 700,000)
  • Church Planting Movement: 500 new churches
  • David Cho Evangelistic Mission http://www.davidcho.com/neweng/default.asp


Emmanuel Research Review, copyright © 2004-2011, Emmanuel Gospel Center. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint any or all of this newsletter, contact , Senior Researcher, by e-mail or write to us (address below).



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Send your ideas and comments to:

  • , Senior Researcher, 617.262.4567 x133
  • , Managing Editor, 617.262.4567 x217
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