Here's how much money these megachurches bring in across the US

Because they have thousands -- or in some cases tens of thousands -- of attendees, megachurches are able to bring in a lot of money.

Continue Reading Below

According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research (HIRR), a church becomes a megachurch once it has a sustained weekly average attendance of 2,000 people or more.

There are reportedly 1,650 Protestant megachurches in the U.S., the HIRR says on its website.

However, it’s not always clear exactly how much these megachurches make because churches aren’t legally obligated to file their financial information to the government, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Unlike other nonprofits, churches and church-affiliated organizations are exempt from filing annual information returns to the IRS.

Despite the exemption, some churches -- including some of the biggest in the U.S. -- choose to report their finances anyway.

One example, Life.Church, reported its financial information from 2018 on the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) website.

The Edmond, Okla.-based church, pastored by Craig Groeschel, brought in $143.4 million in cash and noncash donations in 2018 and reported $281 million in total assets, according to its ECFA page.

That’s certainly helped by the fact that Life.Church has more than 30 locations across the country and more than 85,000 attendees every week, Christan Post reported last year.

Houston, Texas-based Lakewood Church -- pastored by Joel Osteen -- also published a financial report last year for the fiscal year 2017, which ended in March 2017.

The report showed that the megachurch received a total of $78.7 million contributions and after its $90.6 million budget, Lakewood Church had $59 million in net assets at the end of the fiscal year.

Just like Life.Church, Lakewood has tens of thousands of weekly attendees. According to CBS News, the church has an average weekly attendance of 43,500 people.

The two churches are actually on the large side, even for megachurch standards.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

Every year, Outreach Magazine -- alongside LifeWay Research -- publishes a list of the largest churches in the U.S., which only includes churches that choose to participate in the survey. Because Life.Church and Lakewood Church didn’t opt-in for the study, they didn’t make the list.

However, they’re still larger than those that did.

At the top of Outreach’s list is North Point Ministries, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based megachurch with an average weekly attendance of 40,455 people.

Following North Point Ministries is Christ’s Church of the Valley, Gateway Church, Southeast Christian Church and Saddleback Church, in order.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

To see where the churches are and how many people attend each, here are the largest churches in the U.S., according to Outreach Magazine.