3The emergence of megachurches has transformed the American religious landscape(Chaves 2006, 2011). American Christianity has shifted from a smattering of mainline andevangelical Protestant denominational churches, befitting small-town American life, to averitable cavalcade of post-modern, post-suburban, post-denominational megachurches(Thumma 2007; Ellingson 2009; Wilford 2012). Since the 1970s, these high-profile, high-energy, and highly popular megachurches have been growing, both in number andcongregational size, at an unprecedented rate. The total number of megachurches in the UnitedStates alone has increased from 350 in 1990, to over 600 in 2000, and there are now over 1,200,with no indication of slowing down (Hartford Institute for Religion Research). Although themedian congregation size of the typical American church is 75, more than 50 percent of allchurchgoers attend the largest ten percent of churches in America (Thumma and Travis 2007).While not a particularly new style of worship (see the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’sAngelus Temple, Sutton 2007; as well as twentieth century forms of mainline megachurches,Wellman 1999), this large, charismatic, stylistically avant garde, yet typically theologically and politically conservative church format has all but taken over the religious market in many partsof the United States (Miller 1997; Sargeant 2000; Ellingson 2008; Wellman 2008).Megachurches have not only become potent players in American culture and politics (Vaughan1993; Thumma 2000; Loveland and Wheeler 2003; Twitchell 2004), but also in their localreligious markets, where they affect growth rates of nearby congregations (Eisland 1997;Wolleschleger and Porter 2011).In light of past research theorizing and documenting the negative effect of increasingcongregational size on organizational vitality and various forms of member commitment (Pintoand Crow 1982; Finke 1994; Stark and Finke 2000; Dougherty 2004; Finke, Bahr, and Scheitle2006), the widespread success of megachurches requires further investigation. Moreover,considering the impact megachurches are having on American culture, politics, and localreligious markets, it is important to understand why they have such a large appeal. Ellingson's(2010) review of the megachurch literature identifies two major limitations of previous research.