On Faith: Some reasons to go to churchPeople will tell you a lot of reasons why you should attend church – out of duty, obligation, an opportunity to redeem your heathen soul from the fiery pits of hell, and because your mother would want you to.
By: Rev. Lawrence Lee, United Church, Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
People will tell you a lot of reasons why you should attend church – out of duty, obligation, an opportunity to redeem your heathen soul from the fiery pits of hell, and because your mother would want you to.
But, hey, that clearly isn’t working too well. According to the Barna Group, regular weekly church attendance has dropped from 49 percent of the U.S. population in 1991 to just more than 40 percent today.
How about this for two reasons to attend church regularly:
- You’ll be happier.
- You’ll live longer.
A 2010 poll by the Pew Research showed that 43 percent of people who attended church on a weekly basis reported that they were “Very Happy” as opposed to 31 percent of people who attended monthly or less.
People who said they attended seldom or never gave just a 26 percent response. That’s huge. Why?
The report doesn’t really delve into the “whys,” but let me take a guess here, and this is simply my opinion. People who attend church regularly connect with other people and find affirmation and a sense of community. They see themselves as part of something bigger than themselves. And they sing.
Perhaps I’m just being a Pollyanna about this, but I believe, with no statistics to back me up, that the act of singing makes you happier. I think clearing those lungs on a weekly basis and belting out a hymn at the very least does no harm. And, I know what you’re thinking, “Pastor, that’s because you haven’t heard me sing.” Yeah, but the beauty of singing in a large group is that your individual nuances (for lack of a better word) are subsumed into the whole and, yes, it’s beautiful.
A 2008 study at the University of Wisconsin shows that with all other factors considered, people who attend church regularly lived longer than their counterparts that did not. It does go a bit into the “whys,” evaluating the ability of an attentive community to care for their members. A church acts as a kind of extended family and they check up with each other and this kind of behavior can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
So, do yourself a favor, attend church regularly. If not for any of the reasons you think you “should” for the sake of your own health and happiness.
The Rev. Lawrence Lee is pastor of the United Church, the Presbyterian and United Methodist congregation in Two Harbors. He has happily served there since 2003.