Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2016.
It should come as no surprise that Texans are a devout group of church-going people. The Lone Star State sits at the Western edge of the Bible Belt in America, and you can't drive through the small towns without passing a few churches. If you're looking for a really big, megachurch, though, go to the big cities.
A megachurch is defined as a church with over 2,000 members, and according to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, there are over 200 such large churches in Texas. There are also many of these mega-churches across California, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.
Most people know that Texas is home to Lakewood Church, with its famous pastor Joel Osteen. Lakewood is the largest church in the United States, but right on its heels are quite a few other houses of worship that are just about bursting at the seams. These 10 megachurches in Texas have a combined average weekly attendance of around 200,000.
Sources: Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Aggie Catholic Blog Numbers are average weekly attendance, not total membership, rankings only include Protestant churches.
10. New Light Christian Church in Houston - 13,500
New Light Christian Center has four locations across the urban sprawl of Houston, one in Austin and one in Beaumont, which accounts for its ranking among Texas' largest megachurches. Founded in 1984 with 23 members on the principle of outreach and church planting, New Light has expanded to massive numbers.
9. Community Bible Church in San Antonio - 14,031
With two locations in the San Antonio area and services in English and Spanish, it's no wonder Community Bible Church has grown so vast since it began in 1990. The long-time lead pastor Robert Emmitt has recently stepped down from his role and Community Bible welcomed Ed Newton as their new lead pastor.
8. Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano - 15,815
Prestonwood Baptist began in 1977 as a mission of Dallas's Northway Baptist. Located in the North Dallas suburb of Plano, Prestonwood Baptist has grown exponentially under the leadership of Dr. Jack Graham since he took the job of Senior Pastor in 1989. They even have an annual Christmas show, The Gift of Christmas, which features a 1,000 member cast, flying angels and a live nativity scene.
7. The Potter's House in Dallas - 16,140
Located in South Dallas, The Potter's House has been called one of the fastest growing community churches in America by the Christian Today. The church opened in 1996 and has grown to the staggering attendance rates they now boast.
6. Cornerstone Church in San Antonio - 17,000
Cornerstone Church in San Antonio is a non-denominational church that has been under the leadership of its founder and head Pastor, John Hagee, since 1987. Pastor Hagee's son, Matthew, is also a pastor at the church. Weekly worship in this megachurch has more people than many small towns.
5. Woodlands Church in The Woodlands - 18,385
Founded in 1993 as Fellowship of the Woodlands, the Woodlands Church preaches evangelical Christianity and is lead by Pastor and founder Kerry Shook. The Woodlands Church has multiple locations and an online ministry to serve its vast membership.
4. Second Baptist in Houston - 20,656
Second Baptist in Houston has six locations across the city which account for its mega numbers of congregants. Second Baptist was founded in 1927 and is currently under the leadership of Dr. Ed Young. Dr. Young took the helm in 1978 and expanded Second Baptist's membership from 5,000 to its current staggering numbers of over 20,000.
3. Fellowship Church in Grapevine - 24,162
Fellowship Church has four locations around the Dallas/Fortworth area as well as a location in Hawkins, Texas and one in Miami, Fla. Led by Founder and Senior Pastor Ed Young (the son of Dr. Ed Young of Second Baptist Houston) Fellowship Church is nondenominational.
2. Gateway Church in Southlake - 28,000
What would eventually become the monolithic Gateway Church in Southlake first began with 30 people in the living room of Pastor and founder Robert Morris. Since its inception in 2000, Gateway Church has ballooned to six church campuses in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with a weekly average attendance of 28,000 devoted congregants.
1. Lakewood Church in Houston- 43,500
Held in the stadium that used to house the Houston Rockets, Lakewood Church is not only the largest church in Texas, it's the largest American megachurch in the nation. Lead Pastor Joel Osteen is probably the best known of all the megachurch pastors. He has been featured in People magazine and Texas Monthly, among other publications. Over 40,000 people weekly file into what used to be the Compaq Center to worship God and to hear Osteen and his wife, Victoria, speak.