Church Warning Label: Hype is Dangerous to your Mental Health

I was seated in the second row from the front. The speaker and his ‘bling blonde’ wife were seated directly in front of me.

He got up to speak and for the next 30 minutes (seemed longer) he worked the crowd. Pacing across the stage, dripping clichés, pausing for effect, urging more commitment and telling us to be hungry for God.

Then the band came on stage, the lights were dropped, a call to come forward for healing, the worship team sang and people came forward for prayer. Leaders gathered around people and prayed. People were singing and crying. All in front of me.

In the mean time I talked with people around me. One of them talked about how this type of ‘performance church’ had driven their children away from Church. That it was all based on hype and lacked substance for everyday life.It has been my experience that modern day hype church does not serve those with Major Mental Illnesses well.

It creates a false reality where they can leave their problems for a moment and become part of a group think.

The problem arises when the reality of their true situation – depression, hearing voices, anxiety, cutting, addiction etc comes crashing back into their world with a thud.

They then look to get help from the hype merchants and discover all sorts of wacky ideas of  positive thinking, praying more, giving more, singing, being more committed to meetings etc.

The hype reality is strengthened, and a disconnect with reality is reinforced. (Tweet it)

It is interesting to note that Jesus was not into hype. Certainly a lot of hype was built up around him with thousands coming to him for healing and ministry.

His preaching was dynamic and life changing.

Yet as the true cost of following him was revealed, the cost of suffering, the crowds dropped off till at the foot of the cross there were only a handful of followers.

You wouldn’t use Jesus as a model of ‘How to grow a Church’ would you! Abandonment and persecution are not in any ‘5 steps to grow a mega church’ handbook.

What would Jesus say about Hype and Mental Health recovery? 

I believe he would call us to the ancient spiritual disciplines that he used when the hype got too much for him.

Jesus withdrew from crowds, and went into the mountains for silence and solitude. To spend time alone with God. Sometimes he would take the closest of his followers away with him to a place where the hype was impossible to maintain.

In a crowd we can keep our masks intact, but with those who know us well the masks are easily seen. (Tweet it?)

I wonder if Jesus wants the Church to be a place, a time, a relationship where there is no hype, no masks, no B.S.

Some quotes to consider. 

It is easier to belong to a group than to belong to God. . . . Group-think is a substitute for God-think—[it is] the belief that God is found only by our group. The next step is to establish that identification with our group as the only way to serve God. Richard Rohr

The journey into total mental health begins with a commitment to come out of delusion into reality, no matter what the cost. D. Riddell

Helping people face and understand problems that are being experienced, even if not understood, is the first step to healing. Similarly, the first step toward becoming more than we presently are is always a firm embrace of reality. It is essential to start where we actually are, not where we might like to think we are. David Benner Soulful Spirituality

Honesty forces me to conclude that the spiritual path can lead to an escape from a robust commitment to reality, the repression or dissociation of sexuality, disconnection from the emotions, alienation from the body, and increasing distance from one’s unconscious depths. Too easily, spiritual practices lead to increasing identification with those of one’s own religious tribe and an ever-weakening sense of solidarity with all humankind. Too easily, spirituality involves a narcissistic me-and-God relationship that insulates us from, rather than sensitizes us to, the problems of our world. Too easily, it is associated with a focus on beliefs rather than on being. Too easily, it directs us away from life rather than toward a genuinely deeper, fuller, and more vital life. David Benner. Soulful Spirituality

Perhaps you might like to leave a comment below.

Question to consider.
Does hype hinder or help your Mental Health?

Barry Pearman 

Photo Credit: Breno Peck via Compfight cc

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