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Megachurches continue to grow as more traditional church numbers decline

By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA-TV) -- During a time when were seeing a decline in congregations at more traditional churches across the nation, the megachurch seems to be attracting more and more people. So whats the draw?

I dont know if you ever heard the little saying a church alive is worth the drive, said Joella Cavell of South Fayette.

For Joella Cavell and her husband Chris, Victory Family Church in Cranberry is worth the drive. They travel 33 miles from their home in South Fayette for services every Sunday.

The love of Jesus is here. Its in everybody, said Jeolla Cavell.

Its a love the Cavells said theyve never experienced before.

A church like this is definitely and wholey based on God and God is love, said Chris Cavell.

The couple just joined Victory in May. Victory Family Church brings in around 3,200 people every weekend and keeps growing.

The reason I think people are coming is because the focus is very intimate. Even though the numbers may not feel intimate, the focus is. So when you come here, we are very intentional with a message on what Jesus came to do, said Pastor of Victory Family Church John Nuzzo.

I had been looking for a church for so long that I stopped looking, said Tonya Johnson.

When a friend introduced Tonya Johnson to Victory she was hooked.

As soon as I walk in, I remember saying to my friend, I cant believe you invited me to a megachurch, said Johnson. They definitely do small groups here and as soon as I went to my first small group, you no longer feel like youre part of the megachurch. You start connecting with other people.

Alyssa Preston has been coming to Victory since 2001.

I grew up more in a traditional church context and a lot of that is what you have to do to come to God. You almost feel like theres a formula of being in a relationship with him. A lot of megachurches I know of and if this being one of them its true here as well. The focus isnt on what you can do for God, but what hes already done for you, said Alyssa Preston.

Ninety five percent of churches across the country have under 200 people in attendance in any given weekend. Thats compared to just one percent with over 2,000 people in attendance.

However, statistics show that the megachurch keeps growing like The Bible Chapel in Peters Township.

We about doubled in size from 2009, said Associate Pastor of The Bible Chapel Scott Arvay.

Scott Arvay is associate pastor. Around 4,000 people attend his church every weekend.

I think non-denominational churches are centered on Gods word. Gods word is real. Its alive. Its relevant today. It applies to our life today. Its not a history book, said Arvay.

Thats what Jeanne and Richard Downey found here.

Amy Wadas: So what made you decide to make the switch from a Catholic church to a megachurch?

The church we went to before, never mentioned about having a bible or reading a bible. Anything like that, said Richard Downey. The first sermon that we heard here, the only thing I can remember. The pastor said when did we get to the point where we root more for the Pittsburgh Steelers than we do for Jesus Christ? That just hit me like wow.

For Brian Miller, its the outreach. People that attend these large churches can take advantage of cafes and bookstores; even classrooms for the kids.

I was able to get involved with the youth, with missions in Panama. We had a mens group and life group almost essentially waiting for me so it was really a perfect fit for me, said Miller.

Back at Victory, Joella Cavell said a perfect fit is different for everybody

I dont think its about where youve been. I think its about where God is calling you to, said Cavell.

Victory Family Church continues to grow. This is another testament to the popularity of megachurches. The church is in the process of adding on a building that will be utilized for the next generation of kids at the church and completed in three phases. The project will cost around $4 million and will be completed in the next year and a half.

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Steve Fink

sfink@cbs.com

443-421-2459

The-CNN-Wire

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