So, it's Sunday morning, and you're about to load up the minivan with your family and your children's friends from next store, who spent the night last night. Your neighbor Kerri, the friends' mom, recently mentioned that she sometimes takes her family to the megachurch down the street.
The first thing that popped into your mind after hearing the word “megachurch” was the image of a giant Costco or Sam's Club filled with thousands of church goers, a flashy preacher and neon spotlights flying about the stage and audience. You thought to yourself “I'll stick with my traditional church experience, thank you.” But still, there was a curiosity that sprouted in you. So, the van is packed-up and without any further ado, you start the engine and head out to the church to find out.
The Megachurch Experience: A Spiritual High
Before you jump to any kind of conclusions or rag on the idea of a megachurch, take note of a study from The University of Washington. According to The Washington Post, the study posited that “worship services at megachurches can trigger feelings of transcendence and changes in brain chemistry”. The article goes on to mention that the experience may give off a sort of “spiritual high” that makes attendees want to come back for more.
There are a number of megachurches throughout the United States and the trend is certainly growing. Ed Young heads up the Fellowship Church in Forth Worth, Texas — the megachurch of megachurches. As a New York Times best selling author and seasoned speaker, Young and his ministry are able to reach out to all audiences with his charismatic approach to pastorship.
In fact, he even has his own TV show with a massive following- Ed TV, and his website is something like a travel agency for the spirit. Young is an example of a creative pastor, not afraid to go big and not afraid to break taboos — openly discussing topics of family, marriage, sex and community.
Crowds of Thousands
The combination of upbeat music, state-of-the-art technology, crowds of thousands and a strong pastor who can spread the word of God is what creates this intoxicating feeling, as the Washington Post article suggests. Something about worshipping shoulder to shoulder among a sea full of exciting, smiling churchgoers brings the idea of a rock concert to mind. Maybe this is what prayer should feel like — excitement. Instead of sitting down next to your neighbors and listening to traditional sermons, maybe becoming part of an epic church experience is a more inspiring way to connect with a higher power.
The next time you have the opportunity to check out a megachurch, don't hold back. See what the hype is all about. You may just catch the “fever of the Holy Spirit," and become a regular. University of Washington researcher and sociology grad student, Katie Corcoron, described to The Huffington Post the experience in her own words. “It's an addicting experience, it's so large, it's so huge," Corcoron said. "One respondent said you can look up to the balcony and see the Holy Spirit go over the crowd like a wave in a football game.”