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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 ...

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Displaying 1–7 of 7 comments

Sabrina Messenger

October 17, 2012  12:07am

As a person who used to make pocket change as a teen playing guitar at summer tent revivals, I believe that certain 'megachurch' experiences can be addictive, but then for those who have an addictive personalities so can traditional Christian worship services or secular public gatherings that play on people's emotions like concerts, sporting events, political rallies. When it comes to spirituality, there's nothing wrong with the "high", if it happens, it happens but one should not be expecting that high each and every time they go to church. I think one has to be careful they are not allowing their desire for that "high" or spiritual ecstacy to deflect from the real purpose of worship. Otherwise it leads to delusion and pride which then leads to sin.

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October 10, 2012  12:40pm

Somehow it appears you have isolated a part of worship from its whole. Worship in itself is not all emotion and good feelings. You can go most anywhere and find that. Megachurches are drawing people and growing due to the teaching of God's Word truthfully. They address needs of hurting people through ministries to their inner cities and God's people want to have that opportunity. Greater fellowship and spiritual growth opportunities are available. Most megachurches encourage small group involvement and ministry for individuals to use their gifts and everyone to feel connected to the church. Having a strong infrastructure provides opportunities that other churches cannot. During the Colorado fires our church was on the front lines helping families in need, giving of themselves in the name of Christ plus donating $165,000 to the cause. We have a mobile food kitchen, food pantry, home for single mothers, etc. If we have a spiritual "high," it is from giving to others who have less than us

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Red Well

October 08, 2012  5:04pm

First, thanks to James Wellman for weighing in. Second, this question of an "addicting" experience at a megachurch seems really myopic: how many people go to live concerts for a similar experience? Would we be comfortable suggesting that black churches offer an addictive worship experience? Certainly many believers in cultures that consider muscial, expressive experience essential to genuine human experience would be surprised at this kind of question. Arguably, the question really flows from a peculiar theolocial tradition in which emotions are not trusted while rational precision and dispassionate commitment are the sina qua non of genuine belief.

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Claire Guest

October 04, 2012  4:01pm

ITA with Professor Lester Ruth on this: "...'addictive' sounds like someone loses the ability not to participate. If someone decided they had no interest in God, they would probably give up the 'high' and decide not to go any more. Actual love for God is a crucial part of wanting to worship." The Lord through Paul said, "Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..." There IS an undeniable and powerful JOY in the presence of the Lord when one is in right relationship with Him (this is referenced throughout the Bible, both OT and NT) and there is NOTHING wrong with that. Indeed, Nehemiah said, "The JOY of the Lord is your STRENGTH." A believer does not HAVE to worship with others in order to experience this -- I have experienced such intense joy when in private fellowship with the Lord, just He and I. What determines this for me is the presence and anointing of the Lord, regardless of the setting.

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Daniel Hartshorn

October 03, 2012  7:00pm

Is it addictive? not to me it isn't.

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james k. wellman jr

October 03, 2012  4:09pm

"Are megachurches addictive?" As the lead author on this research, who was not asked to comment on this question. I know it's provocative to take one line from an article and create storm based on it. It also tends to create the impression that the article was a critical take on megachurches, and that is the farthest thing from the truth. We used data from the Leadership Network and coded an enormous amount of interviews, and what we found was a huge display of positive emotion in reaction to people's experience of megachurches. Overwhelmingly, folks felt that they had grown spiritually from their experience in megachurches. They LOVED these churches. We explained it by a complex social mechanism; charismatic leadership, and a simple theology, full of hope. We speculate that this creates a physiological reaction that potent and positive and natural and healthy. So, the lead question is misleading and negative. Any interested in what the article actually says, email me:

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Rick Dalbey

October 03, 2012  12:54pm

Did you hear about that mega worship service with thousands of people, flashing lights, thunderous bass and people got so caught up by the emotion they fell on their face. Some even threw jewelry! The lyric to the song they were singing was “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” Such manipulation, such emotion, such special effects. If you don’t like this kind of worship here, you are really going to be uncomfortable in Heaven. "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:" "Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted....You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’

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