Church hopping to find more exciting pastors and worship, or turning to end-times theories, may be more about escaping boredom and fear than about connecting with God, according to writers and ministers who focus on spiritual formation.
People who hop from church to church in search of more exciting worship or who seek constantly to feel the intensity of God’s presence in their lives very likely are addicts, Jeanie Miley says.
For them, religion merges with entertainment which creates a spiritual thrill that must be continually chased, said Miley, a Houston-based author and retreat leader whose expertise includes spiritual growth and wholeness.
“Our culture seems to be drawn to that which gives us a buzz or helps us to escape,” said Miley, a member of River Oaks Baptist Church, where her husband serves as pastor. “That buzz distracts from emptiness, pain or boredom.”
Christians continually striving for the feeling they experienced at a key spiritual moment, or who church-hop in search of the more inspiring preacher and worship, likely have fallen into this category, she said. The same is true for many who become fixated on the Rapture and other end-times dramas.
“Religious itself can become an addiction. You can kind of go crazy on it.”
Pursuing that ‘on-fire feeling’
Minister and writer Lucy Worley sensed something wasn’t right with her continual pursuit of spiritually intense experiences.
“For a considerable season of my life, I thought something was wrong with me because I no longer felt the way I did when I first came to the Lord,” Worley wrote recently for Relevant, a magazine of faith and culture. “That ‘on fire’ feeling I always had as a new believer was suddenly impossible to attain.”
She feared that the absence of the feelings she had as a new Christian invalidated her faith.
“I had had some initial mountaintop experiences, and I was now associating those intense emotions with a healthy relationship with God,” she wrote in her article, “Faith Isn’t All Mountaintop Moments.”
“I liked that mountain, and I didn’t want to put in the effort of climbing a new one.”
What she has since learned is that letting go of those initial peaks opens believers to even richer experiences. Not only is not having those original feelings legitimate, she said, it’s a sign of maturity.
“On the days you feel trapped between where you’ve been and where you’re going, let go of what you think your relationship with God has to look like,” Worley wrote.
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global