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385,000 down to 10: T and T’s Top 10 list!

Recently Ben Boles from asked us if we would collaborate and come up with a list of our Top 10 Innovative Churches in America. There are many inherent issues with this challenge. For one, innovation is subjective and really lies in the eyes of the beholder. Secondly, we cannot say that the list will be completely fair due to the fact that neither one of us has personally seen nor reviewed all 385,000 some odd churches.

With that in mind, here is the baseline for how the list was generated. We decided to define church innovation like this:

“Church innovation” is the introduction of new, fresh, and creative ideas and practices which are intended to be used for reaching people for Christ. The main driver for innovation is often the courage and energy to better the world through the local church. An essential element for church innovation is that its application generates results by helping people meet Jesus and become fully-devoted followers of Christ. Another measure of this is considering: Who is leading whom? In other words, what churches are becoming the benchmark for innovative ministry strategies and helping to resource other churches?

It’s unscientific. It’s just our opinion. But that’s what Ben wanted. So here is Terry and Tony’s Top 10 Innovative Churches:

10) Seacoast Church
9) Willow Creek Community Church
8) New Spring Community Church
7) National Community Church
6) Buckhead Church
5) Mosaic
4) Bay Area Fellowship
3) Journey Church
2) Daybreak
1) Life Church
00) Fellowship Church & Granger Community Church

(You didn’t think we would leave our churches off the list did you?)

Here are a few more details about our Top 10 churches:

Seacoast Church ( – The church has nine locations throughout South Carolina. Led by Senior Pastor Greg Surratt, Seacoast Church started in 1988 in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Willow Creek Community Church ( – The main campus is located in South Barrington, IL with three additional locations in the Chicago metro area. Willow, which started in 1975, is led by Senior Pastor Bill Hybels.

New Spring Community Church ( - Located in Anderson, SC, Senior Pastor Perry Noble leads this innovative church. New Spring Community Church started in 1999.

National Community Church ( – The church launched in 1996 and now meets in two locations in Washington, DC. National’s senior pastor is Mark Batterson.

Buckhead Church ( - Located in Atlanta, GA, this is a satellite campus of North Point Community Church led by Senior Pastor Andy Stanley. Buckhead started in 2001.

Mosaic ( – Mosaic meets in five different locations throughout the Los Angeles, CA area including their location in downtown L.A. at Club Mayan. Erwin McManus is the lead pastor.

Bay Area Fellowship ( - Located in Corpus Christi, TX, Senior Pastor Bill Cornelius leads this innovative church. Bay Area Fellowship started in 1997.

Journey Church ( – The church is led by Senior Pastor Clark Mitchell. Journey Church started in 2001, and it’s located in Norman, OK.

Daybreak ( - Located in Hudsonville, MI, Senior Pastor Wes Dupin leads this innovative church. Daybreak started in 1989.

Life Church ( – The church currently has five locations in Oklahoma and soon will be opening two new sites in Phoenix, AZ. Craig Groeschel is the church’s senior pastor. Life Church started in 1996 in Oklahoma City, OK.

Granger Community Church ( – The church is located in Granger, IN near South Bend. Granger’s senior pastor is Mark Beeson. Mark started the church in 1986.

Fellowship Church ( - Located throughout the heart of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, Ed Young leads this innovative church and its four locations. Fellowship Church started in 1990 in Irving, TX.

Again, this was an unscientific list that was heavily influenced by our personal opinions. However, we can say that we did have a great time coming up with the list, and really look forward to the comments this will generate. So let's hear your comments. Give us your lists. We'll also let you tell us where you think our churches fit in the “true 12”...if you agree that they belong there. Have fun!

Terry & Tony