Guest / Limited Access /
Is Megachurch Worship Addictive?
Don Hammond / DesignPics
Is Megachurch Worship Addictive?

Researchers from the University of Washington recently argued, based on an analysis of existing studies, that megachurch worship creates a spiritual "high" that draws participants back again and again. Interviews with 470 attendees at 12 churches revealed a common sense of euphoria; lights, video cameras, and projectors contributed to the experience.

"Worship services are addicting because worshipers believe they are experiencing God. They don't have a problem saying God is like a drug. They want and need to regularly experience God, and the megachurch worship service is a primary means by which they do so."
Katie Corcoran, sociology Ph.D. student, University of Washington

"Being stirred up or 'high' are words that mean getting involved. The intention of a worship service is to focus people's attention on religious matters and to get them stirred up to be concerned about things. Churches that never stir anyone up don't last long."
Rodney Stark, co-director, Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion

"It can be. It is dangerous to engineer a certain kind of experience—to equate true spirituality with exuberance, but not contemplation. But similar temptations can affect any type of church, and some megachurches are working to resist this kind of narcissism."
John Witvliet, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

"Ecstatic worship can be positive, nurturing the emotive side of God's relationship with us. But when ecstasy begins to dictate theology, or suggest normative behaviors, we risk falling off the plateaus of orthodoxy and orthopraxy."
James Hart, president, Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies

"It can be attractive. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueChristian Colleges Try Massive Online Courses
Subscriber Access Only
Christian Colleges Try Massive Online Courses
But schools worry about their effect on discipleship (and revenues).
Current Issue
Subscriber Access Only Gleanings: March 2017
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our March issue).
Current IssueEgypt’s Anglicans Face ‘Existential Threat’ … from Fellow Protestants
Subscriber Access Only
Egypt’s Anglicans Face ‘Existential Threat’ … from Fellow Protestants
Cairo bishop resists efforts to deny his church independence.
Current IssueA Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Subscriber Access Only
A Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
RecommendedCover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Subscriber Access Only Cover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Some visitors claim to be healed. Others claim to receive direct words from God. Is it 'real'--or dangerous?
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickUrban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Urban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Why this 'new spirituality' is really just old-fashioned syncretism.
Christianity Today
Is Megachurch Worship Addictive?
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.