Mega churches are remarkably tight-knit for being such large communities. Drawn together by a common set of beliefs, members support and care for one another and admire the pastors who lead them. That’s why we believe that these communities can be powerful vessels for motivating healthy lifestyle. If the pastors care and set up fitness education courses, then people will want to take a positive step in their health.
That’s why Samir Becic and the HFR institute have ranked the fittest mega churches of 2017. We have been promoting the strong connection between spirituality and fitness for the past 4 years, writing nationally renowned lists of Fittest Pastors and the Fittest Churches. In 2015 we researched hundreds of mega-churches around the country to create the first-ever list of the 50 Fittest Mega-Churches in the Country. We used interviews, web info, and industry literature to look at whether churches had a fitness program, healthy eating options, education seminars, and pastors who are interested in healthy lifestyle.
As an organization, we have also been ranking the fitness of religious leaders since 2013, and you can read our 2017 Fittest Christian Leaders in America. Our previous lists in years past of Fittest Female Pastors and Fittest Religious U.S. Religious Leaders have received national media attention and our lists are regularly picked up by thousands of media sources- all to which we are grateful for helping spread the message of healthy lifestyle. We have even conducted exclusive interviews with a number of high profile pastors to spread their message of healthy living.
HFR Institute founder Samir Becic, who over the years has become a world leading health and fitness expert is also enormously respected among the Christian community. He says of this list “With over 70% of Americans identifying themselves as Christian, I believe that these physically fit spiritual leaders can be a strong influence on an obese American population in a positive direction. Please leaders, spread the message of healthy lifestyle!”
Samir also believes “Spiritual awareness is one of the key components of healthy lifestyle that impacts the whole body and rejuvenates the spirit. Physical fitness and healthy nutrition allows that spirit to flourish to new dimensions and many people experience a closer relationship to God.”
Becic continues “The Mega Churches of today hold a strong influence on the general opinion of mainstream America. Followers look for daily guidance from pastors and heads of ministries on the best way to live their lives and raise their families. It is enormously important to provide the churches with the correct knowledge on fitness and proper nutrition so they can influence and better their members lives. I am glad that some mega-churches are currently trying to do this and are already having very respectable results in the field.”
Now Samir Becic and the HFR team have poured over all the data on pastors to rank the top fittest mega-churches of 2017. We used a combination of interviews, internet, library, industry literature, and Samir’s knowledge of over 20 years as a fitness industry expert coupled with his experience as a four-time No. 1 Fitness Trainer in the world.
Here are 2017’s Top 10:
Lakewood Church – Houston, TX
- Weekly Attendance: 52,000
- For the fifth year in a row, Lakewood will offer yearly Total Life Challenge class for anyone to attend and find complete physical fitness and inner peace.
- Offers Zumba classes.
- Provides strength and conditioning class.
- Has educational nutrition classes.
- Indoor basketball court.
- Is home to one of the first mega challenges ever in America with fitness expert Samir Becic.
- Pastor Joel Osteen is very fit himself, and by appointing Samir Becic as head of Health and Fitness he showcases how important he believes fitness is to the congregation.
- The church provides many trainers to expand healthy lifestyle choices to all of the congregation.
- Invites many fitness experts to come speak and also participate in discussions.
- Many pastors within the church are very fit and health conscious themselves.
- Both Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen made our list of the Top 10 Fittest Pastors in America 2016 and our 2017 list of the Fittest Christian Leaders in America.
- Offer many promotions so that members can buy health products at an affordable price.
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale – Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Weekly Attendance: over 30,000
- The Grill, an on-site restaurant, offers healthy food options for attendees.
- Calvary Sports is an option for the congregation, and its purpose is to make disciples by connecting people with a passion for sports/fitness and a passion for Jesus.
- Offers 17 fitness classes for men and women, including kickboxing, indoor cycling, strength and conditioning, Zumba, core stretch, power cardio, in addition to others.
- Has an extensive roster of other youth and adult sports programs.
Second Baptist Church – Houston, TX
- Attendance: 23,659
- Has a membership of over 63,000.
- Offers a fully equipped on-site gym to members.
- Offers personal trainers.
- Fitness classes include: spin, TRX, core conditioning, interval, bootcamp, aerobics, foam rolling.
- Facility includes an outdoor and an indoor track.
- Whirlpool and sauna in locker rooms.
- Full-size weight room and plenty of cardio equipment.
- The church offers intramural sports leagues.
Willowcreek Community Church – South Barrington, IL
- Weekly Attendance: 26,000
- Has a sports ministry that runs intramural teams and sports. There are several Fall, Winter, and Spring leagues, including co-ed volleyball, women’s basketball, and men’s flag football.
- During the Summer, they offer weekly sand volleyball pick-up games, running clubs, and yoga groups.
- Available Tae Kwon Do classes meet year-round.
LifeChurch.TV – Edmond, OK
- Attendance: 20,823
- Church employees receive quarterly reimbursements for sporting fees, gym memberships, fitness equipment, and more.
- Partners with Compassion International’s Child Survival Programs, which provides parents with education about various things, including nutrition and health.
- Also partners with The Chalmer Center, which teaches people about managing their health, households, and businesses.
Saddleback Church – Lake Forest, CA
- Weekly Attendance: 23,632
- Installed an outdoor fitness course on its property that is free for the community to use.
- The half-mile course includes five stations, featuring a variety of equipment designed to target different muscle groups.
- Pastor Rick Warren wrote the book “Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life”. He wrote it with health industry experts so as to provide an accurate and well-rounded plan.
- The Daniel Plan is a healthy lifestyle program that showcases and helps readers experience the powerful combination of Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends- postive changes that can change peoples’ health forever.
- The Daniel Plan Health initiative now influences hundreds of churches across America.
- Annually, Saddleback hosts a Daniel Plan Health & Fitness Rally.
- Hosted the Daniel Plan Fun Walk & Run.
- Has a Sports and Fitness ministry, which organizes sports, leisure, recreation, and leisure, to support and enhance participants’ physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health (examples include: basketball, tennis, soccer, softball, golf, fitness, badminton, cycling, surfing, hiking, youth sports, karate, and sports clinics)
- The campus includes the Saddleback Organic Garden Ministry, whose goal is to grow organic produce that can then be used to feed needy families
- Lead Pastor Rick Warren made 2 of our lists: Top 10 Fittest Pastors in America and Top 10 Fittest Christian Leaders 2016. He is also on this years Top 10 Fittest Christians Leaders 2017.
The Potter’s House – Dallas, TX
- Weekly Attendance: over 17,000
- Pastor T.D. Jakes is known for being a pioneer of the health crusade in the African American church community.
- The church includes a Health Ministry.
- A program within the congregation called God’s Leading Ladies Life Enrichment Program, includes physical fitness and healthy habits as part of the course.
- The Medical Ministry includes an array of health care professionals in leadership positions promoting health awareness, health maintenance, and safety within the community.
- Partnered with the American Heart Association, the YMCA, and Walgreens to host the Walkin’ and Rollin’ For Life Event in 2012.
- The event promoted exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle at any age and included a 5K walk/run/bike ride followed by a health expo.
Southeast Christian Church – Louisville, KY
- Weekly Attendance: over 17,000
- Campus includes a 64,000+ facility in the Sports and Fitness Center, developed as a resource for the development of health.
- The indoor area includes a suspended walking track, volleyball courts, basketball courts, racquetball courts, and group fitness rooms for a variety of classes.
- The outdoor space also includes a track for walking and jogging, softball fields, baseball fields, soccer fields, and sand volleyball courts.
- The church has a dedicated Sports and Fitness Ministry which offers many programs that encourage participants to stay fit and connect with others through fitness.
- Has fitness programs and classes that include seasonal Boot Camp classes, mini marathon training, and group fitness.
- The Ministry also offers a wide array of youth and adult sports.
Hopewell Missionary Baptist – Norcross, GA
- Weekly Attendance: over 16,000
- In order to provide creative and meaningful fitness activities for the church member in a Christian environment, they built a Fitness and Wellness Center on campus.
- The Music, Worship, and Creative arts ministry includes dance classes.
- The church includes a Health Ministry whose mission is to educate the congregation and surrounding community about opting to choose healthy behaviors and living a healthy lifestyle overall.
- Has a Recreation and Athletics ministry, which makes athletics and recreational activities available to both their young and adult members.
- Hopewell has made efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in the African American community.
New Birth Missionary Baptist – Lithonia, GA
- Weekly Attendance: over 15,000
- Holds a “Go Red” Sunday every February to raise awareness to the importance of “Heart Health” within the community.
- New Birth Student Ministries involve arts, sports, community service, business, and education.
- At the “Diabetes Day” event in 2009, pastor Eddie Long said, “We can take steps to reduce our risk – like eating healthier foods and exercising regularly.” During that event, members of the church were given diabetes screenings and attended education seminars about the illness following Sunday Services.
- Includes a fitness center on campus.
- In June 2010, the churched held a fitness webinar that highlighted ways to live longer, live stronger, and live well by making a few simple adjustments to daily habits.
To read more about fitness and churches, read our articles below: