Scientifically is has been discovered that going to church weekly is good for you.
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.
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."
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:
You discover God’s true character. Attending church provides the atmosphere of learning the true character of God. God is loving and just and is completely unchangeable. Most people identify the character traits of their biological fathers and project those traits on God. If your father was harsh and unloving, distant and judgmental, you probably have an inclination towards believing God is the same in His character. Developing and learning about one’s faith reveals the true identity of God and church has the motivation and resources to help you on that journey.
You can form positive relationships. If you go to church with the mindset that you will make good connections with people who are kind, loving and caring, you will bring that experience into your life, just as much as having the opposite attitude will lead to that corresponding result.
You find empathy. People who are hurting or have walked through similar circumstances will be at church. You can find a group of people you can share your heartbreak, suffering and struggles with who know what that feels like. Do not dismiss the healing power of a few encouraging words from those who know exactly what you are going through.
Corporate worship resets life focus. Singing praises to God is a reminder of where our priorities need to be in life. Giving God the glory and honor through worship takes the spotlight off one’s challenges and obstacles and reminds us that nothing is too insurmountable for the Lord to work for one’s good.
No church is perfect, however, if you make a commitment to find a place of worship with the mindset that you will learn more about your faith, you will achieve that result and enjoy the benefits of fellowship.
Nancy Pina is a highly recognized author, relationship coach and speaker. She is dedicated to helping individuals attract emotionally healthy relationships through her practical, Christian-based advice. Visit here for articles, exercises, coaching options and recent books.