Live Science is running an interesting piece about megachurches based on the research of a University of Washington graduate student in sociology. Katie Corcoran, who presented some of her research on Sunday at the meeting of the American Sociological Association, is working on a book with religion professor James Wellman called High on God: How the Megachurch Conquered America.
Here is a taste of the article:
…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.
“The main reason that people are gravitating towards these churches is because they do offer a wide variety of programs, and they have very enjoyable and entertaining services with messages that a lot of people feel comfortable with,” Corcoran said.
The researchers also found a new trend of people reporting that they regularly attend not only a megachurch, but another church as well. It’s not yet clear why people double up on their churches, but it’s likely that they’re getting something different from each church, Corcoran said.
I have a hard time reconciling the megachurch with the message my family heard in church this past Sunday. (I was sick). The sermon came from the Matthew 7: 13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the
road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“