The Health Benefits of Returning to Church

We may be living in a culture guided by a pandemic mindset, but at least the churches are open again. It’s too bad the people haven’t all returned.

I do not fault those concerned about catching the virus or spreading it. For those with any such concerns, I encourage them to stay a healthy distance away. Thankfully, most churches are streaming their services online.

My beef is with those who’ve gotten used to the idea of not coming to church on Sunday and have stayed in that mindset. Church was a habit, but now they’ve developed a new Sunday habit. It’s not out of concern for Covid; they just determined they didn’t need to be around Christians on Sunday.

In the Christianity Today article, “Empty Pews are an American Health Crisis,” Tyler J. Vanderweele and Brendan Case wrote, “The most common experience of Christians who don’t go to church seems to be less a deliberate choice and more a substitution of habits. Put differently, a large share of Christians are opting to go it alone, moving their faith into quarters so private that even the church is not allowed in.”

That’s too bad, because they really do need to be in church. Consider this from a physical and mental standpoint. In their article,  Vanderweele and Case highlighted research that points to the health benefits of church attendance.

  • Comparing medical workers who attend worship services to those who don’t attend, attenders were 29 percent were less likely to be depressed, 50 percent less likely to experience divorce, and five times less likely to commit suicide.
  • Death by suicide, overdoses, and alcohol abuse dropped by 68 percent for female attenders and 33 percent for male attenders.
  • Those who were raised in a church-going family experienced a greater sense of happiness and purpose.

When we gather with others for worship, there is a collective focus on God. Reading, praying, and singing with others gets the focus off ourselves. Instead of thinking about our problems or circumstances, we look to One who is far greater. We see ourselves in light of who He is.

Some might counter by saying they can do these activities by themselves. Theoretically, that’s true, but I’ve yet to encounter anyone who truly did—and did it well—apart from being plugged into a church family. We were created for community. We need each other. We don’t come to church to surround ourselves with perfect people. Our strength comes from gathering with other wounded people, looking to God together. We are not alone.

I’m not calling us to return to church attendance for a religious feel-good experience. We need Jesus Christ. When we look to Jesus, we are getting our eyes off ourselves and looking to the One who loves us like no other and saves us like no other.

“In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

“He is also the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:14-18).

You need Jesus, and you need His church. Let God use others to minister to You—and let Him use you to minister to others.

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