Why You Should Go to Church (Even If You’re Not Sure of Your Beliefs)
Singing with others also bonds you together with others in a unique way — quite literally as it turns out; studies show that the heartbeats of those signing together sync up with the music and with each other. The oxytocin released further increases these feelings of connection and trust, which is why group signing has been shown to lessen feelings of loneliness. The people they rub shoulders with all share the same race, age, socio-economic status, and beliefs. It might seem that churches would actually exacerbate this trend, rather than mitigate it.
After all, Martin Luther King Jr.
Many congregations select for income too; there are churches almost entirely attended by the middle and upper classes, and those almost entirely composed of those from the lower classes. Plenty of churches still attract folks from a wide range of places and stages in life: blue and white collar workers, folks of all ages, people on both sides of the political aisle. I honestly encounter a greater diversity of people and opinions at my church than in any other area of my life; its members are a motley crew — folks of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, political beliefs, and disabilities — who truly help keep me from getting lost inside the echo chamber of my social media feeds and self-selected peer groups.
Partly for solidarity with an attending spouse and partly out of the desire for community, but also because, rather than seeing attendance as contrary to their scientific identity, they saw going as part of it. The rise of secularism was supposed to pacify the culture wars. Issues of race, nation, and social justice are today being forwarded with the kind of single-minded, absolutist zeal once reserved for the principles of faith, a trend that has deepened bitter partisanship and made increasingly impossible the kind of consensus building and compromise necessary for a democracy to function.
The Surprising Benefits of Going to Church | Church Benefits
Perhaps this is because, as discussed above, church keeps people in touch with folks from different walks of life, and promotes a message of universal brotherhood that mitigates the acrimony that arises between different segments of society. For all groups, the decline in church attendance has eroded a shared language of love, charity, mercy, and forgiveness that formerly built bridges between those on opposite sides of the aisle. The civil rights movement, for example, grew out of black churches, and the fact that leaders like MLK employed the shared language of Christianity to promote the cause of black Americans, helped its message to breach the walls of whites.
Without the common touchstone of church attendance, Americans have lost part of their shared language, and seem destined to continue to talk past each other. For certain, there are non-church attending folks who are self-motivated and find ways to tirelessly serve in their communities. Reams of research bear this fact out. While the religious might see this as a reason to crow about the fruits of their faith, Putnam and his co-author, David E.
Campbell, found that this greater motivation to serve was not a result of doctrines preached from the pulpit. The more friends someone has within a religious congregation, the more likely that person is to give time, money, or both, to charitable causes. It makes sense. People who regularly attend church have lower blood pressure and higher immune systems, are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, show lower rates of depression and suicide, and are more likely to live longer than non-churchgoers.
Why Do We Go To Church
The more they attend, the greater this life-extending impact becomes, and the effect is found even when other variables are controlled for. Positive peer pressure from fellow congregants, as well as church-sponsored addiction programs, may help people quit smoking or drinking. The kind of robust social support church provides has repeatedly been proven to bolster physical and mental health.
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The discipline learned at church can carry over into things like diet and exercise. Allow me to preemptively respond to them.
Purpose-Driven Lifestyle for the Church?
When the benefits of X thing are laid out like this, one should definitely apply healthy skepticism to the claims, and inquire as to whether the effect of X is due to causation or correlation. Know that the MIT economist Jonathan Gruber studied the data, and found that church attendance does indeed causally produce many of the above benefits. Further, many of the studies cited did control for other variables that would have potentially skewed the results.
Where such is the case, it was explicitly mentioned above. With a few other of the studies cited, untangling causation and correlation is indeed difficult. The remaining observations are obviously simply anecdotal. Their resonance and mileage with you may vary. Hypothetically speaking? Realistically though, getting the benefits of church in the absence of church would be difficult to accomplish for a few reasons. Sixty years ago you had things the Freemasons and the Rotary club to participate in, but most civic or largely secular institutions have shriveled in membership or gone extinct given the connection between church attendance and community engagement, we may surmise that they likely evaporated because church attendance has gone down, and that ironically enough, secular organizations depend on faith-based ones to thrive.
A nonprofit is going to get you engaged in the community and put you in touch with folks from different walks of life, but it may not create as much social support for you , nor provide too many opportunities to break out in song. A viable option. Church thus offers the advantage of conveniently compiling the most benefits under one roof. In fact, they throw us back on ourselves. Work is about you and your career and your financial success.
How often do you engage in the world beyond your head? Many people say they have more spiritual moments in the outdoors than they do at church — and I count myself among them! The woods and the mountains have been the backdrop for many of my most transcendent experiences. It may lift certain parts of my soul, but it lets others lie fallow. We need to meet the brokenness of flesh and blood humanity eyeball to eyeball, and learn the love, patience, and unselfishness that comes with trying to help piece it back together.
Rather than being mutually exclusive, doing service the opportunities for which, again, come most readily through church and experiencing nature can enjoy a symbiotic relationship. When Jesus grew tired of the crowds who beseeched him for healing, he retreated into the solitude of the wilderness, only to return refreshed and ready to resume his ministry.
Of course not. But church can serve as an enhancement of your own parenting efforts, and most parents are happy with any help they can get. Life Church is a good one, with campuses around the country. No media outlet, and especially no church, is ever going to exactly parrot back our personal worldview.
The instruction they get in your home will be far more impactful. At every church? At the great majority? A third of atheists say they attend church every once in a while anyway, so there may very well already be another nonbeliever in the pews. Atheists should check out more liberal denominations like Unitarian Universalists, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ which celebrate their diverse, pluralistic memberships, and extend a welcome to one and all.
Look around and try out some different options. I think it will. View it as an experiment. Once you find one that seems like a good fit, go every week for a few months and see what happens. Focusing on this issue, Ephesians offers wisdom. If every individual person has a purpose, which then comes to fruition by obedience, then the body grows. People come together as a church, community outreach begins, discipleship succeeds, life lived together compels the advancement of the gospel. The people of God grow as individuals because of active engagement in the community of believers.
Christ, being the head of the church, gives Christians a solid foundation and leader to follow and imitate daily. In John 17, Christ prayed for future believers to be united as he was united with the Father. We gather so that we can be like Christ.
We gather because we get to enjoy this relationship with God. Everyone has a purpose in the local church, both corporately and individually. Therefore, there should be no divide between the Pew and the Pulpit. In fact, the strengths and weaknesses of the members of the local church are intentional, even complementary. Everyone has something that the other does not have, and we are stronger together than we are apart.
This is a beautiful truth.
We need to look at every person in our congregations as a vital member of the family. I am lacking where you may be strong. Your strengths challenge me to grow and address my weaknesses, and vice versa. Our vocations and personalities help showcase the beauty of the diversity of the Bride of Christ. Praise God that everyone is different, but may we not forget the need for those differences. This calls for all walks of life, regardless of background or educational training.
So when we gather, celebrate God. Because we gather for him, not ourselves. God uses our differences to propel the gospel around the world through our diversity.
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Next time we meet, let us worship together and be joyful for the active work of the Lord. It is not about us. It is about him. Nicholas Dawson received his M. He and his wife live in Wake Forest, NC. Thanks, Nicholas! Some great thoughts here. I might add one more.
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