What is it about regular church attendance that is so crucial to one’s well-being?
Posted in , Jul 22, 2019
A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this year made the discovery that “people who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged” than people who don’t attend or aren’t part of any congregation.
Pew polls are great. They’re thorough, trustworthy and exhaustive. In this case they studied not just the United States but 25 other countries representing a wide variety of religions.
After reading the data I had to ask myself, “How does church make me happier?” What is it about regular church attendance that is so crucial to my well-being?
1) Church is a social network.
As Jesus said to His disciples, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” He understood how we find and experience the love of God in community.
2) Church offers support.
In the 30-some years that my family has been part of a congregation, we’ve had milestones to celebrate and trials to endure. Our church family has always been there with phone calls, hospital visits, cakes, cards, casseroles and many prayers. You couldn’t put a price on support like that.
3) Church gives you purpose.
Happiness thrives when you have a sense of purpose, when you know what life is for. Isn’t that what I get week after week, sermon after sermon, class after class, studying one Scriptural passage after another?
4) Church reaffirms healthy habits.
The U.S. was one of the few countries cited in the Pew survey where being part of a congregation made people healthier. They were certainly far less likely to drink excessively or smoke. I also thought about the many 12-step groups that meet in church basements. The members might not be part of the congregation, but they come for healing.
5) Church is a place to sing.
Sad songs help us process our emotions, and joyful songs make us smile. Nobody expects perfect singing in our church. Making a joyful noise is good enough.
6) Church fosters inner healing.
Whenever we gather as a congregation we say the Lord’s Prayer. We ask for God’s forgiveness and offer forgiveness for the things done to us. God understands the corrosive power of unaddressed anger. Again and again, we’re shown a way to put it to rest.
7) Church can change your point of view.
Jesus didn’t leave behind any books or establish any system of governance. But He reminded His followers that we could always find Him in community. In over 2000 years we have done that, growing in faith in congregations around the world.