A "megachurch" is defined by at least 2,000 worshippers every week and there are about 1,200 megachurches in the United States.
What are some characteristics of a megachurch compared to your local, neighborhood church down the street? Here are 4 characteristics found in megachurches:
1). Megachurches establish a brand. Ultra large churches purposely create identities for their niche. For example, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas is known for Joel Osteen and his positive messages and upbeat worship. The Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama has created an identity for radical discipleship and missions to unreached people groups. Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina is known as a hip, college-centered church - including church extensions on university campuses.
2). Megachurches communicate extremely well. Most of them have a Minister of Communications who is always emailing, snail mailing, tweeting, blogging, Facebooking, videos, advertising, publishing - every possible avenue to connect with members and guests - they're aggressive and professional. I know of a church that requires it's staff members to return phone calls/emails/Facebook messages within 4 hours of receiving them.
Logos, mission statements, and new member classes are all used to communicate the vision of the church, how you can be involved, and how you can give. Too much is at stake for a megachurch or any size church to fail at communication.
3). Megachurches master small groups. They know that a church grows larger by growing smaller. Much of their growth is building 5 hallways each with 10 large rooms seating 40 people each and clean restrooms. Whether its Sunday School, Discipleship Groups, Specialty-based classes or Weight Watchers meetings - they use small groups to connect. Megachurches know if people don't assimilate in a small group setting - they don't stick.
4). Megachurches have personalities. The pastor is publishing a book a year, the worship pastor writes the songs they sing, the children's minister is writing the curriculum for the kids. A high level of professionalism and expectation is established. This can be dangerous if a ministry leader sets himself on a higher level than the people in the pew...aka pride.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, said his goal was to memorize 3,000 names. He would study the church directory - thousands of people would attend, and he'd walk around saying their names. He knew nothing about them...but he knew their names!