The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States

March 26, 2013

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?

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44 Comments

  • Gary jones says on

    As a lifetime member of the SBC I can tell you this much, many of its members have left the church for more conservative churches like the church of Christ,
    because Calvinism has taken over many Baptist churches and because many Baptist churches are dropping “Baptist” from their name, and, because some of them have made their worship services into merely one hour entertainment.

  • The fastest growing would be Calvary Chapel but since they don’t do memberships and or have a strong corporate centralization they fail to make lists.

  • What do you know of Disciples of Christ?

  • Wise old man says on

    Neither pray I for these alone, but them also that shall believe on Me through their word, that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they may be one in us so that the world mayt beleive that thou hast sent me. John Chapter 17. Oh God answer this prayer!

  • Douglas Hoppe says on

    Does any of this really matter? While statistics are “interesting” it can also take us , our minds , away from the ultimate important issue. Where do I stand with Christ. Am I in an intimate relationship, connected to the Vine? I can spend time comparing the contrasts or I can spend the time in Gods presence reading His word and drawing close to Him so I am better prepared to share His word when an assignment or an individual is in need of guidance or direction, myself inccluded. Sorry for the long drawn out sentence. Let’s focus on ourselves and where we stand any given moment with the Lord and stop judging, comparing, or whatever we choose to qualify it, and focus on ourselves and follow the Great Commission as our Lord asks us to do.

  • How about the Seventh Day Adventists? I understand they are the fastest growing denomination in the USA (USA Today report).

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Jan –

      Seventh Day Adventists are among the fastest growing denominations in the world, but not the United States. My list is for the U.S. only. The Adventists have over 17 million members worldwide, but only 1.2 million (7%) are in the U.S.

      • Is this discussion about the LARGEST denominations or the FASTEST GROWING denominations – there’s a big difference.

  • Fernando Tangarife says on

    Hermano Thom,
    Que se sabe de las Iglesias no denominacionales, aquellas que llamamos independientes, cuantos miembros tienen?
    Gracias

  • Christopher M Webb says on

    Again Dr. Rainer thanks so much for the information. This report sheds light on an estimated number of those who profess to be Christian. Is there an estimated number of individuals who profess to be Christian in the US?

  • I wonder also, how many SBC affiliated churches like mine never bother to send in the annual report?

  • Steve Chapman says on

    Thom,
    The number for the Churches of Christ – does that only include the non-instrumental congregations or does it include the instrumental Independent Christian Church/Churches of Christ, as well? If the ICC churches are not included, do you have a number for them?

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