We usually think of people like Beyonce or even Kanye West when it comes to large, elaborate stages. However, photographer Joe Johnson has started a series entitled "Megachurches" that highlights some of the biggest places of worship across the country. While not in use, Johnson takes pictures of the structures that reveal their surprising magnitude. The images also show the effort the churches put into their audio-visual setup, lighting, and concert-style seating.

These kinds of churches aren't uncommon; the number of Megachurches has grown from 50 in 1980 to over 1,800 today, according to WIRED. Johnson became interested in these establishments after visiting an enormous church service in North Carolina. “It was an admittedly voyeuristic impulse to watch what happens live,” he said. “I was stunned by how sensorial the spectacle had been. There was a highly produced aural and visual sophistication being brought to the act of worship.”

Johnson has photographed churches in several different states, presenting a variety of incredible stages. As you look through the photos you'll realize that they aren't made just to praise God. These are “places where entertainment, doctrine, and politics converge,” according to Johnson. “The subject was visual, complicated, topical, and I had to make work about it.”

[via WIRED]