From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Megachurch mania: Up, up and away

Congregants who attend church alongside thousands of their closest friends often feel swept away by the experience.

This megachurch "high" has been documented by a University of Washington research study titled "God is like a drug: Explaining Interaction Ritual Chains in American Megachurches."  The Religion News Service explains that megachurch dynamics can be comparable to those of large concerts and sporting events. Researcher Katie Corcoran reports that feelings of megachurch
worshippers seem to be "somewhat unique" in that they "are not just experienced as euphoria but as something transcendent or divine."  (However, one has to also wonder whether many secular fans perceive their "superstars" as demigods…)

Megachurch "highs" are induced by some of the following worship-service components:  modern upbeat music, charismatic leaders, emotional rather than intellectual messages, small-group adjunct activities, and the
large-screen projection of particularly dramatic audience responses.  All this results in what researchers have called an "oxytocin cocktail."  God's love was described as "a drug" by one congregant, and another stated that "you can look up to the balcony and see the Holy Spirit go over the crowd like a wave in a football
game."  (Tebow, anyone?)

Lest this seem like a passing fad, Religion News Service offers this statistic:  "An estimated 10 percent of American Protestants --  6 million worshippers -- regularly attend one of 1,600 megachurches."


Copyright September 18, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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