The Top 10 Churches in the World
by Wolfgang Simson
Agreed: influence in today´s world is far more important than size.
However, looking at the number of people attending some of the world´s largest churches in the year 2004 gives us an understanding of where we are going in the future. Many things are changing: Churches, that have had 300.000 attenders 10 years ago, like the once famous cinema-church "Ondas del Luz y Amor" in Buenos Aires, are almost gone. Completely new models are emerging, like in India´s city Allahabad, where, on Sunday, a University simply changes into a church, with up to 80.000 people attending weekly.
Membership figures are changing strongly, and active participation can be more acurately measured by attendance – "voting with our feet" – than being a name on a membership roll. Yonggi Chos church in Seoul, for example, speaks of 773.000 members, but "only" 253.000 do actually attend the services in the main church and the Seoul satellite churches.
But one of the emerging trends is that clearly “Church” is getting defined in a very different way than we used to. It moves from a denominationally organized setup to organic regionality, from pastoral leadership to apostolic networks, from leaders to elders or parents. Church is no longer just a single organized “Church” with a Senior pastor, a building with a steeple and a programme, but more the organic fellowship and community of Christians in a City or Region – as in NT times. The Body then is the sum total of all members of the interconnected housechurches, cells, groups and interdependent churches. Leadership is no any longer happening through one Senior Pastor, but through regional teams, often functioning acording to apostolic patterns. Connectedness happens through our belonging to Christ and a earthly home: our common region or city. Unity is practically expressed in housechurches that are linked together as well as large Celebrations, or at least regional leadership meeings in areas, where the church is being watched or persecuted. A comparatively small housechurch network in an area in China, for example, would count 400.000 attenders, large ones several millions. The 10 largest regional (not national!) housechurch networks in China, Vietnam or North-India would completely change the list below.
Rank Pastor Church
1. Yonggi Cho Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea
2. Javier Vasquez Yotabeche Methodist P. Church, Santiago,
3. William Kumuyi Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, Nigeria
4. Mario Vega Elim Church, San Salvador, El Salvador
5. Cesar Castellanos Mision Carismatica Internacional,
Bogota, Kolumbien 90.000
6. Omar Cabrera Vision de Futuro, Santa Fe, Argentinien
7. Pastor Oh Young Nak Presbyterian Church, S.Korea
8. David Oyedepa Winners Chapel, Ota, Nigeria
9. R.B. Lal Yesu Darbar, Allahabad Agricultural
Institute, Indien 40.000
10. V. Choudhrie Chattisgarh/MPradesh Housechurchnet, Indien