The 5 Biggest Online Churches

Share This Article

0 0 0 0 0 0

Capterra Affiliate Linking Policy

Capterra’s blogs aim to be useful to small business software buyers. Capterra participates in vendor affiliate, referral, and pay-per-click programs where available. This means after a content piece is written by our researchers, our affiliate manager converts existing mentions of vendors into affiliate links where possible and adds PPC links where appropriate. When readers click on those links, sometimes we make a small commission and when they make purchases, sometimes we earn an affiliate fee. That said, we do not accept free products or services from vendors in exchange for mentioning them on the site.

No Capterra blogs or blog posts are sponsored by vendors; further, our writers independently choose which vendors to cover and what to write about them. In fact, most of our writers are unaware of Capterra’s affiliate relationships.

If you have any questions about Capterra’s affiliate policy, including our impartiality or how to get your affiliate links on our editorial content, please email

At Life.Church, based in Edmond, OK, visitors can chat with friends, volunteer on a prayer team, and watch live sermons.

And while Life.Church has 27 physical locations in eight different states, a new member doesn’t have to travel to any of them to do all those things, because Life.Church offers an entire, functioning church online that serves about 70,000 people every week.

Life.Church is one of the most notable examples of an emerging trend: the online church.

An online church isn’t necessarily part of a megachurch, but online churches are almost always one of several unique campuses in a multi-site church.

Why Are There Online Churches?

Of course, you might be reading this article asking yourself, “Why would someone sit at home and attend a virtual church on their computer when they could go to church with their neighbors and be together in the same building?”

That’s a fair question, and one that has been asked before.

But as generations change and churches look for ways to change with them, the allure of connecting online rather than face-to-face has become too prevalent for church leadership to ignore. More importantly, churches need a way to include people who are physically unable to attend traditional services due to illness, disability, or distance.

A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that people who report going to church less now than they used to said the logistics of getting there are the biggest deterrent.

So while attending church online may not be ideal in the eyes of most church leaders, isn’t it better than not attending church at all?

The 5 Biggest Online Churches

To be considered an online church, we looked for churches that did more than just live stream their services, maintain a Facebook community, or host a podcast. Today’s online churches treat the Internet as a campus all its own, with interactive chat, dedicated online pastors, and a web ministry ready to serve their cyber-congregation.

That’s why, for example, Second Baptist Church Houston—which has six different main campuses and a congregation reportedly over 60,000 members—is not included here. Ditto for Joel and Victoria Osteen’s Lakewood Church, which has more than 43,000 weekly members and an archive of online sermons, but no dedicated online campus.

You’ll find that most churches on this list are non-denominational. For example, individual Catholic churches—as impressive as their buildings are—rarely expand to the size of the churches you’ll read about below.

We ranked the below picks based on their weekly physical attendance numbers (unfortunately, we have no way of accessing the online attendance data). Though, as anyone who has ever tried to track attendance at their local church can attest, these numbers are very difficult to pin down and should be used for informational purposes only. Not to mention that attendance can fluctuate wildly from year to year and even month to month. With that said, we tried to get the most recent and accurate numbers available online, using Outreach Magazine’s 2016 Annual Report as a starting point.

After scouring the web (where else would you look for online churches, the phone book?) here are the five biggest online churches in order of average weekly attendance.

1. Life.Church

Average weekly attendance: 70,000

Main campus location: Edmond, OK

Online campus: Church Online

Senior pastor: Craig Groeschel

How they got here: Groeschel started Life.Church in 1996 in a two-car garage with some second-hand projection equipment. Over the past 20 years it has grown into the largest church in America. Why? About 10 years ago, Life.Church unveiled its Internet Campus, opening its doors to visitors around the world. Life.Church also has a popular Bible app, called YouVersion, and even broadcasts sermons on Second Life.

2. Church of the Highlands

Average weekly attendance: 40,000

Main campus location: Birmingham, AL

Online campus: Church of the Highlands Online

Senior pastor: Chris Hodges

How they got here: Hodges founded Church of the Highlands in 2001 with a little over 30 followers. It has since grown to 15 sprawling physical locations around Alabama. The online campus has a dedicated pastor, David Russell, and an online prayer team at the ready.

3. North Point Community Church

Average weekly attendance: 39,000

Main campus location: Alpharetta, GA

Online campus: NorthPoint.Live

Senior pastor: Andy Stanley

How they got here: Stanley founded North Point in the suburbs of Atlanta in 1995, meeting biweekly in rented facilities until the late 1990s. In 1996, the church purchased an 80-acre site in Alpharetta and they haven’t stopped expanding since then. North Point now has 15 locations around Georgia and strategic partners in 15 different states and overseas. NorthPoint.Live ties all the campuses together with themed series, social media discussion, and related blog posts.

4. Saddleback Church

Average weekly attendance: 25,000

Main campus location: Lake Forest, CA

Online campus: Saddleback Online Campus

Senior pastor: Rick Warren

How they got here: Opening with a Palm Sunday service at Laguna Hills High School in 1980, Saddleback has survived and flourished through the transition to the Internet Age under Warren, who has become internationally known for his book, The Purpose Driven Life. In addition to 14 physical locations around California, Saddleback also has campuses in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and South Manila. Their online campus, led by Pastor Jay Kranda, allows visitors to watch live streams and join online groups or begin their own.

5. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale

Average weekly attendance: 25,000

Main campus location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Online campus: Calvary Chapel Web Campus

Senior pastor: Doug Sauder (Founder: Bob Coy)

How they got here: The second oldest church on this list, Calvary Chapel opened in 1985 under colorful founder Bob Coy. The church has expanded to nine locations around Florida and recently survived a widely publicized leadership change. Calvary Chapel’s ministries include one of the largest private schools in Florida. The web campus, led by Pastor Dan Hickling, broadcasts five live services throughout the week and exists to create an “online community, (where) you can connect with others, build relationships, grow in your faith, pray, and ask great questions.”


Did we miss one of the biggest online churches? Or do you know of a church that is revolutionizing the way churches operate online? If so, let us know about it in the comments and remember to share this article with your friends!

Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.

Share This Article

About the Author

Andrew Conrad

Andrew is a content writer for Capterra, specializing in church management and project management software. When he’s not striving for the perfect balance of information and entertainment, Andrew enjoys the great outdoors and the wide world of sports. Follow him on Twitter @CapterraAC.


Christ Fellowship Church Online averages over 53,000 viewers per week, with over 2.4 million viewers year-to-date. We stream 5 live services on our website, mobile app, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Roku, Amazon TV and Apple TV. We also have 45 rebroadcasts throughout the week.

From OutreachMagazine – Outreach 100

Christ Fellowship Church … Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Senior Pastor Todd Mullins
Twitter @JToddMullins
Founded 1984
Affiliation Nondenominational
Locations 9
Attendance 26,200
Growth by # 2,355
Growth By % 10%
Fastest Growing #43
Largest #7

Christ Fellowship is a multiethnic congregation gathering across nine locations in South Florida, with more than 26,000 in attendance each week and over 50,000 joining online. With a heart to reach people at their point of need, Christ Fellowship’s external focus keeps the church moving in the direction towards the community—feeding the homeless, creating homes for neglected and abused children in the South Florida and caring for the underserved communities in our region. These expressions of God’s love create the space to share the message of the gospel and thousands are finding the hope of Jesus.

With Dr. John C. Maxwell as one of their teaching pastors, leadership development is at the heart of moving Christ Fellowship forward. This commitment to raise up and train leaders led to the development of Kaleo – Christ Fellowship’s School of Biblical Leadership – a one-year leadership intensive to train people in the church for increased leadership capacity. Their partnership with Southeastern University furthered this vision by creating the Christ Fellowship college experience to raise up the younger leader and keep them connected to the church during their college years.

Realizing there is strength and blessing in unity, Pastors Todd & Julie Mullins began to bring senior pastors together to create Church United, a Collaboration of Churches across South Florida. Church United causes “The Church of South Florida” to move forward as one voice and one body -sharing the gospel and meeting the needs of the community. Government officials and civic leaders are now turning to Church United as needs come up in our community, bringing the hope of Jesus into the marketplace.

You might mention the Calvary Chapel church in Second Life. The pastor, Alex Henderson, also has physical services in Ayr, Scotland.

[…] The 5 Biggest Online Churches – Capterra I am not yet ready to propose a model. I am not laying out a plan for my denomination (The United Methodist Church). Honestly, we are too busy arguing about other things to make a paradigm shift. […]

Comment on this article:

Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.