Two items in the news this weekend tell me that the megachurch concept has peaked in American culture. From here on out it will decline, but probably never disappear.
First, the Crystal Cathedral, arguably the original megachurch, has passed to the ownership of the Roman Catholic diocese in Orange County (California) and has been renamed as a Catholic cathedral. The megachurch started by Robert Schuller is at an end after about a half century.
Second, Pastor Creflo Dollar was arrested on Friday night for beating his 15-year-old daughter. He has been a primary example of the "prosperity gospel" and African American megachurches. He will inevitably go downhill from this event despite his denial and defiance on the events in question.
This is probably as clear a marker as we will have on this trend in our culture. The idea of the megachurch will become less attractive and slowly enter into decline. But, it is unlikely to ever disappear alltogther. There will always be a strand of Christianity anchored in the culture of the affluent, suburban consumer even once the Baby Boom has passed from the world.
What will come next? There are several options already here: (1) the house church; (2) small, missional groups; (3) very traditional congregations with 35 to 125 in attendance each week and a return to practices that are hundreds of years old; (4) surviving mid-size congregations that have renewed themselves by reinventing their worship and outreach activities and reaffirmed their connection to a denomination; and (5) experimental ministries of many kinds.