As a Christian relationship coach, the foundation of my work is based on faith. Without proper structure, you cannot know what to expect in love. Relationship challenges are not so much in the details of who-did-or-didn’t-do-what-to-whom, but spiritual battles of the mind and heart. Without a community of support, it is very easy to miss what is really going on with you and your significant other.
So, it is not surprising to read the recent article in the New York Times by anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann who states that going to church is good for you. She sites that the benefits of social support, especially in evangelical churches was extremely conducive for emotional and physical well being. Her findings reveal that people who go to church on a regular weekly basis display healthier behaviors such as drinking and smoking less and tend not to participate as frequently in reckless behaviors as those who do not attend church regularly. These positive benefits of regular church attendance not only keep you spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy, but also strengthens your intimate relationships.
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Many of you have met those who believe that going to church on a weekly basis is optional for the life of a believer; or perhaps that describes where you are today. There is a huge mix of spirituality in our society that takes some teachings of Hinduism, astrology, a little pantheism (God is the universe), scientific terminology (to sound official), psychology (to sound intellectual and relevant) and a sprinkle of the teachings of Jesus and molding it into a mess of a nonspecific, unfulfilling, non-exclusive belief system which has our society starving for that something deep in the soul which yearns for the meaning and purpose of life. You need structure to understand truth and that cannot be found alone. We are made for community and connection and church attendance is an excellent avenue to build a strong life foundation.
I have coached many people who believe they are Christians, but find being in nature is just as good as going to church, saying they feel closer to God gardening or walking in the woods instead of worshiping as a corporate unit. Many also have had negative experiences with organized religion such as disagreements with certain members of their previous church or even with the leadership. The rational is, "I don’t need this tension so I will do what I think is right."
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The problem with that line of thinking is the motivation. Feelings are not a reliable barometer for turning your back on attending church. We all need those around us who can hold us accountable to the values and morals we profess to believe. Left alone, it is human nature to stray from what one knows is right.
Going to church is good for you because: