The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States

The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches assembles various data on churches and denominations across North America. I recently gleaned the top 15 denominations by membership in the United States from their reports:

  1. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million members
  2. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million members
  3. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million members
  4. National Baptist Convention: 5.0 million members
  5. Evangelical Lutheran Church, U.S.A.: 4.5 million members
  6. National Baptist Convention of America: 3.5 million members
  7. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million members
  8. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): 2.8 million members
  9. African Methodist Episcopal Church: 2.5 million members
  10. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America: 2.5 million members
  11. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS): 2.3 million members
  12. The Episcopal Church: 2.0 million members
  13. Churches of Christ: 1.6 million members
  14. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World: 1.5 million members
  15. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: 1.4 million members

Neither the Yearbook list nor this blog infers that bigger is better. To the contrary, I have noted on a number of occasions how church membership, unfortunately, is fast becoming a meaningless number. Only the Assemblies of God on this list reported membership growth from the previous year, and their growth rate was only one-half of one percent.

Nevertheless, the numbers are interesting. Does your church belong to one of these denominations? Are you in a non-denominational church? What are your reflections on this list?

Posted on March 26, 2013


With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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47 Comments

  • I wonder how many Christians are a part of the MASC (Mutual Admiration Society Church). Is there anyone who does what Jesus did? We live for life, liberty and the pursuit of material things (happiness). We want to look good, feel good, smell good and eat well – in a nice house. How to figure this out. Look to Jesus, some might say. And sure, we ALL know that’s the answer, but still something is NOT working. But all is not lost. Let’s look at a Christ-followers like Mother Teresa. She was the kind of person that Gandhi was looking for. Gandhi, it is said, read the Bible every day – and when asked why he never became a Christian he answered something like: “I would have become one … had I ever met one.” I have to ask myself this question: Am I the reason why somebody (or manybodies) doesn’t follow Christ? And yes, Jesus intended unity and prayed for it (see John 17), but we are still dealing with dis-unity. After many hours of solitude with God – reading nothing, no phone app, no music, nothing in my hands, no distractions, just God, me and a little pain – He has shown me the problem with disunity. He has shown the problem of the world gone chaotic. And now I will tell you the answer to all the riddle of riddles. The problem is quite simple. The problem, is me. I am the source of all the problems. How? Because I’m selfish, judgemental, lustful, and a gossip. I’m also, greedy, uncompassionate, and care too much for myself. I’m not humble. I don’t put others before myself. OK, I do every now and then, put others before myself, but there are hidden motives. It one case, it’s because the person I help is someone I like – looks like me, dresses like me, watches TV like me, drives a car and has money like me – where’s perfume or cologne – doesn’t smell bad. They don’t talk weird (i.e. LOUDLY) nor say “dumb” stuff. I’m too often part of the MASC. The CRAZY thing is that I KNOW, in prayer, in church, in the Bible and how the Holy Spirit moves in circumstances – I KNOW that the MASC and the mission of God are INCOMPATIBLE!!!! It’s right there STARING AT ME in 1 Cor 13, and at the last supper (Jesus said, “[oh yeah] A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”), and in the greatest commandment teaching and, and, and. So I look to Mother Teresa. I would greatly encourage you to get a book on Mother Teresa and read it. One that has some of what she wrote. There’s one I use every day call “Do Something Beautiful For God.” It’s only one or two sentences per day – but they are powerful. And she does NOT attend the MASC. She actually follows Jesus. There are also books that have her letters. These are powerful too. The Holy Spirit through Paul says that we should “present your bodies as a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy and pleasing to God” and that this be our spiritual worship. And I also see in MT 25 that when we serve and love the least in the world, we are actually seeing, loving and serving Christ. So where to put the blame – on me. Surely, surely we should read the Bible. And surely surely we should spend 30 minutes or 1 hour or 2 hours EVERY DAY in prayer (with 1/2 the time in SOLITUDE). And surely we should find Christ’s church. But also surely surely, we must seek God in all of our life. In going out of our home, in stopping to allow our neighbor to infringe on “our time”, loving all who cross our paths, serving God and OBEYING (no one likes that word) all He is asking us to do and living in His Heart in all of our desires, attitudes, thinking, speaking and acting. Here, I believe, is the unity we can all find if we are truly the “Christ-Followers” we say we are. It’s simple and yet complex at the same time – Jesus saying, “Come, Follow Me.” May the Holy Spirit lead me, you and all the world into the love and mission of Christ, sent by the Father. And may we, knowing that everything (every atom, electron, proton, neutron, quarks, God particle and everything small and large, seen and unseen, earth, planets, sun, moon, stars, our bloods, our eyes, our hearts, our lungs, the blood that moves through us, the air we breathe the food we eat, fingers and toes, everything) has been giving to us as a gift, live lives of incredible humility and gratitude to One who has given us everything – our Eternal Triune God. Thank You, Lord. Help us, Lord. Give us courage to detach from material things and our selfishness. Lead us, Lord – into Your heart. Change us, Lord. Use us, Lord. Use us to change the world. Now, to me, help me, Lord, to stand up and follow you as Your disciples and servants have done in the past. Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening. Courage, Lord – I need it in big doses – but mostly, I need You by me. In Your Name, Lord. In Your Name. Amen.

  • I love God and all of his family. I’m glad I found this website. I really want to a part of the system. I want to put my name out there and I don’t want to be alone. I would appreciate it if anyone can help me get connected with all sources. I really want all of the Protestant family to know my name. I’d like to grow some roots and feel safe.

  • Like term,” lead coach. All rises& falls on leadership! Coaches can help build Leaders! Train Leaders not Followers, the Church is Desperate 4 Coached& Mentored Leaders!
    Lt Jivoff.

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