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Mega-churches are intoxicating

Mega-churches are intoxicating

Huffington Post reports that worship at a mega-church evokes intoxication:

More and more Americans are spending their Sundays at megachurches, enormous churches with congregations numbering in the thousands. Despite the size of these churches, members don’t get lost in the crowd, new research finds. In fact, a new study of 12 representative megachurches spread across the country finds that the size of these churches is a major part of their appeal. Members report that the experience of worshiping with thousands is intoxicating, the researchers find.

“It’s an addicting experience, it’s so large, it’s so huge,” said study researcher Katie Corcoran, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Washington. “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.”

Corcoran attributes the rise in megachurches to charismatic pastors, optimistic messages and activities for every interest. Small groups, often based around non-religious hobbies like knitting or fishing, give members a sense of belonging, she said.


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Bill Dilworth

Well, of course crowds are intoxicating. Anyone who’s been to a concert or large sporting event (or watched Triumph of the Will) knows that. But the intoxication comes from the crowd and the way it’s directed (or not). It’s not God or even necessarily good, and it’s a little scary reading about people who assume it is.

I think the author is wrong in saying that this mob intoxication proves people aren’t lost in the crowd. Giving yourself up to the crowd is how the intoxication works.


OK, let me disclaim: I’ve been in some large Peace and/or Pride Marches, and certainly did get that intoxicating thrill of seeing tens of thousands, before and behind.

I’m just highly cynical that seeing masses of ecstatic people is any proof of the Holy Spirit, or doing God’s Work, per se.

JC Fisher


“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.”

I’m sure mobs experience much the same before the lynching.

JC Fisher

…highly cynical, or couldn’t you tell? Oh those poor Desert Fathers, in their quiet, isolated cells: denied the thrill of a Stadium Wave! }-X

Matthew Buterbaugh+

I read on this blog several months ago that cathedrals in England have seen a revival. Anecdotally, this seems to be true in this country. There probably is something intoxicating about worshiping in a crowd. I’ve certainly enjoyed it at conventions and visiting parishes while on vacation.

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