(RNS) A megachurch in Lawrenceville, Ga., was named the fastest-growing Protestant church in America in Outreach magazine’s annual ranking, while Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston remains the nation’s largest.
In the past year, 12Stone Church in suburban Atlanta increased its attendance by 30 percent and gained 2,226 attendees, boosting total attendance to 9,636.
The magazine’s list of the fastest-growing churches was determined using both percentage growth and numerical gain.
12Stone changed its name from Crossroads Church in 2007 and is known for its unusual community outreach, especially at Christmastime. Last year, 12Stone donated gifts to single mothers for their children, along with $50 to give to another single mom. In 2007, the church gave a car to a college student and a minivan to a family with a special needs child.
Outreach partnered with Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated LifeWay Research and contacted more than 8,000 churches to compile its lists of largest and fastest-growing churches. Both lists are based on self-reported data of February and March average weekend attendance.
The top five fastest-growing churches are:
1. 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, Ga.
2. Experience Life Church, Lubbock, Texas
3. The Rock Church and World Outreach Center, San Bernardino, Calif.
4. People’s Church, Oklahoma City, Okla.
5. Faith Church of St. Louis, Fenton, Mo.
The top five largest churches are:
1. Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas (43,500)
2. North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Ga. (24,325)
3. Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (24,041)
4. Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill. (24,000)
5. Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky. (19,230)