This week I defend my dissertation. Finally. Assuming all goes well, I’ll earn a Ph.D. in leadership. I look forward to playing with my children and sleeping once again. I’m grateful to Dallas Baptist University and Dr. Adam Wright, my committee chair—incredible influences shaping me into a better leader. If you’re considering a school, then DBU should be on your list.
My topic and dissertation title is “Legacy Church Leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention.” At some point in the future, I’ll post some of the findings. For this post, I’ll simply reveal the seven legacy churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and explain how I determined them.
I started the study with the idea that some SBC churches are notable because of their size, particularly megachurches—those averaging more than 2,000 people in weekly attendance. I also made the assumption that other SBC churches are prominent because of their age and history, especially those older than the median age of a church in the United States—73 years. If legacy is—at least in part—determined by size and age, then these churches would have a unique legacy.
To determine how many legacy churches exist in the Southern Baptist Convention, I applied some filters.
- First, there are approximately 181 megachurches in the SBC.
- Second, of these 181 megachurches, 68 of them are older than the 73-year median age of a church.
- Third, of these 68 established megachurches, only seven of them have been megachurches for multiple generations, being among the first wave of megachurches and staying that size.
Only seven! I was surprised by the small number of established, longstanding megachurches in the SBC. Who are these churches?
- FBC Jacksonville, FL – founded 1838
- FBC Houston, TX – founded 1841
- FBC Atlanta, GA – founded 1848
- FBC Dallas, TX – founded 1868
- FBC Orlando, FL – founded 1871
- Bellevue Baptist Church Cordova, TN – founded 1903
- Second Baptist Church Houston, TX – founded 1927
The focus of my dissertation was on four of them. Given their prominence, I called them “legacy churches.” The term “legacy” is used in a variety of ways, so I clarified the definition in my dissertation. Whatever the term, most of my readers likely recognize the above churches. Why you recognize them is what my study is about.
Pray I pass my defense. Once I recuperate from the years I’ve put into this beast, I’ll share a little more about the results.