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Beyond Megachurch Myths

Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from
America's Largest Churches
by Scott Thumma and Dave Travis

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

Aug 2007

Beyond Megachurch Myths

"One of the major transformations in American Christianity is the emergence of hundreds of megachurches in the latter part of the twentieth century. This is the first book to be published that is based on close empirical research and yet is written in a manner that is easily understood by individuals attempting to assess this trend.”

—Donald E. Miller, professor of religion and executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture University of Southern California

Drawing on extensive, broad-based, and well-designed research, as well as telling stories and anecdotes, Beyond Megachurch Myths focuses on the diversity of churches within and dispels popular myths about the megachurch phenomenon. Defining a megachurch as a Protestant church that averages at least 2000 total attendees in their weekend services, Scott Thumma and Dave Travis reveal what these churches are and are not, why they are thriving, what their members say about their experiences, and why they have many valuable lessons to teach smaller churches.

Beyond Megachurch Myths draws a clear picture of megachurches’ unique characteristics and how they are changing the landscape of American religion. The book debunks seven common myths, including that megachurches:
• Are just too big to be good
• Are driven by personality cults and will fade away
• Are selfish and only concerned with their own needs
• Water down the faith
• Are bad for the overall religious economy
• Serve people of the same race, class, and political views
• Grow because of the “worship show”

Beyond Megachurch Myths is filled with practical insights and suggestions for pastors and leaders of other church organizations that can be applied to their own organizations and ministries no matter what their size.

This book is available by visiting Amazon.

PRESS & MEDIA CONTACT: (for information or a review copy)

Sarah Gorback SGorback@wiley.com
Publicist, General Interest
989 Market Street, Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 782-3213
Fax: (415) 433-4151

Read the 2005 Summary Research Report of the initial findings.

Read the Leadership Network press release debunking 11 megachurch myths

Praise for Beyond Megachurch Myths

"Finally!  I've waited for this book for a long time.... In Beyond Megachurch Myths, Scott Thumma and Dave Travis finally blow away the myths about megachurches and present facts based on real data and research.  This book helps answer some of the most common misconceptions about megachurches.  The underlying research confirms what I have been saying about the overlooked strengths of megachurches and what they can teach churches of all sizes."
—Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

“Beyond Megachurch Myths shows us that we don’t know what we don’t know about mega churches. Dave Travis and Scott Thumma do a great job on this timely work to put an end to the hearsay and speculation to tell us the truth about what’s really happening in today’s mega-churches.”  
—Dave Ferguson, Community Christian Church and NewThing Network

"Crow is not my favorite dish to eat, but as this book points out, I’ve had to eat one of the myths so artfully debunked by Travis and Thumma.  This book is the most definitive work done to date on the mega church."
—Bill Easum, senior consultant, Easum, Bandy & Associates

“In this groundbreaking book, Scott Thumma and Dave Travis share their keen insight and unique understanding of the mega church phenomena in one accessible volume.  This book is a significant addition to the literature and knowledge of megachurch studies.”
—Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., Sr. director and missiologist, Center for Missional Research, North American Mission Board

 “Megachurches are here to stay and will attract continuing interest.... Thumma and Travis have done us all a great service by setting the record straight.”
—Robert Wuthnow, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor of Social Sciences and director, Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University

“This is the most thorough, insightful, and helpful book ever written on megachurches.”
—Mark Driscoll, pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington

"Packed with myth-defying information from two long-time observers of megachurches, this book offers an important assessment for anyone who is curious or concerned."
—Nancy T. Ammerman
Boston University

"This is the best available overview of the megachurch phenomenon.  Thumma and Travis use several types of evidence to assess the conventional wisdom about megachurches, qualifying that wisdom when appropriate and challenging it when necessary.  In the end, megachurches emerge as more diverse than many assume them to be.  Anyone who wants to understand the nature of that diversity should read this book."  
—Mark Chaves, Professor. Department of Sociology. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

“No one who is serious about being informed on the American church scene will be able to ignore this book. It is an incredibly comprehensive description and analysis of an ongoing important spiritual and sociological phenomenon. Doctrinal orthodoxy, organizational behavior, leadership development, small group programming, worship style, communications—you name it—this book cross-references it with the megachurch to help us understand this important spiritual and sociological movement.”
—Reggie McNeal, Author of The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church and Practicing Greatness: Seven Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders

"If the word “mega-church” sounds frightening, impersonal, compromising or worse, then this book may be for you.  Dave and Scott project a factual inside view and do a great job of demystifying the large church movement in North America."  
—Greg Surratt, Pastor, Seacoast Church

"Everyone has questions about megachurches such as  “Why is their number growing, How long will they last,What happens after the current Pastor’s tenure? And many more.  Dave Travis and Scott Thumma will be your Lewis & Clark as you explore all things megachurch in Beyond Megachurch Myths."
—Dr. Samuel R. Chand, President SRC Ministries


Publishers Weekly

This data-driven description of American megachurches is aimed at leaders and members of smaller congregations who may harbor apprehensions about this growing phenomenon. Chapter by chapter, the authors tackle common misconceptions of churches with more than 2,000 attendees and suggest that they are simply Christian neighbors with a different-looking storefront who are here to stay a while and who have much to offer smaller churches willing to learn. However, the collaboration of the two writers (one an academic and the other a consultant for church leadership) is disjointed, with the "applying what you have read" sections at the end of each chapter feeling tacked on to the richer content of the main text. One of the strongest chapters confronts the "myth" that megachurches are akin to Wal-Mart in that they grow at the expense of existing congregations. The authors argue that megachurches feed a constant cycle of "birth, growth, maturity and decline" needed to "help keep churches and religion in America strong and vital." Readers are reminded that true-blue Christianity comes in many different packages and that the market for religion can and should be tapped in a variety of ways. (Aug.)



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