A 2012 study by the University of Washington concludes that megachurches “provide the same biological ‘high’ and euphoria as that produced by sporting events and concerts” (Ecumenical News International, Aug. 21, 2012). The study, entitled “God Is Like a Drug: Explaining Interaction Ritual Chains in American Megachurches,” was co-authored by Katie Corcoran and James Wellman. They attribute the worship “high” to the “upbeat modern music, cameras that scan the audience and project smiling, dancing, singing, or crying worshippers on large screens, and an extremely charismatic leader whose sermons touch individuals on an emotional level.” They believe these things “trigger chemicals in the brain to give the individual an emotional ‘high’ and feeling of transcendence as well as a need to come back for another ‘hit.’” I have long said that contemporary worshipers are simply high on the music. This was born out on a research visit to City Harvest Church, the largest church in Singapore, on February 8, 2003. The music was pull-out-the-stops rock & roll, featuring two drummers, electric guitars, a keyboard, and a powerful brass section. Several worship leaders, male and female, swayed and pranced at the front of the stage. Almost every person joined in enthusiastically during the worship time, singing, clapping, jumping, and swaying to the potent music. The church’s magazine for July-December 2002 contained a question/answer section, and one question was very instructive. A new church member said that she “felt drawn to the presence of God, ESPECIALLY THROUGH THE TIMES OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP.” But when she tried to meet God in the same way during her personal quiet time to "FEEL THE SAME TANGIBLE PRESENCE," she always failed. She couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it is quite simple. It is the sensual music that is producing the feelings of a “tangible presence,” but true worship has nothing to do with such things. Those are easily counterfeited by the flesh and the devil. True worship is to give thanks to God and to serve Him obediently BY FAITH NO MATTER HOW I FEEL AND NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCE. Do you think Abraham had a tingly feeling of a tangible presence as he was walking up Mt. Moriah with Isaac or that Job had warm, fuzzy feelings when he was sitting in the ash heap scraping his boils with pieces of a clay pot and contemplating the loss of his children and wealth and rebutting his wife's complaints? No, but those are two of the chiefest acts of pure worship recorded in the Bible, and they were not set to music!
(Friday Church News Notes, August 31, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)
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