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 IssueUganda Tells 1 Million Couples: You're Not Really Married
Subscriber Access Only
Uganda Tells 1 Million Couples: You're Not Really Married
Unions hang in the balance as govt. restricts which churches can marry.
Current IssueChristians, Retreating Isn't a Failure of Nerve
Subscriber Access Only Christians, Retreating Isn't a Failure of Nerve
We need a tactical withdrawal to regroup the church for the days ahead.
Current IssueHow the Prophet Habakkuk Built an Anti-Fragile Faith
Subscriber Access Only
How the Prophet Habakkuk Built an Anti-Fragile Faith
Lessons on worshiping a consistently unpredictable God.
Current IssueDon’t Miss Steven Curtis Chapman’s Point
Subscriber Access Only
Don’t Miss Steven Curtis Chapman’s Point
Even his happiest, most heartwarming music has been fueled by tragedy and pain.
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?
TrendingWhy Tim Keller, Max Lucado, and Hundreds of Evangelical Leaders Oppose Trump’s Refugee Ban
Why Tim Keller, Max Lucado, and Hundreds of Evangelical Leaders Oppose Trump’s Refugee Ban
Regardless of court fight’s final outcome, fewer persecuted Christians will make it to America under president’s plan.
Editor's PickInvestments for the Kingdom
Investments for the Kingdom
Eventide Funds has confounded the investment world with its success—and its biblically based principles.
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.