According to the Nursesâ€™ Health Study* of 70,000 medical workers, those who attend religious services weekly are
- 29% less likely to become depressed
- 50% less likely to divorce
- 400% less likely to commit suicide
- 33% less likely to die during the 16-year period of study
than those who never attend worship. Reasons include greater social support, higher levels of hope and purpose, and reduced levels of substance abuse. (The great majority of attenders were Christians).
I’ve seen similar studies for decades. The morality, spirituality, and fellowship of the Church so clearly offers physical and mental health benefits that one must wonder if the Church Haters in pop culture are simply jealous.
Iâ€™m thinking about this because I’m assessing how the pandemic is affecting our congregation and the non-believers in our orbit. I’m concerned about how isolation preys on people and how I can counter its deleterious effects on our inner lives. One thing is clear to me: we must fight the current trend to skip worship.
Tyler Vanderweele and Brendan Case, both professors/researchers at Harvard University, point out that service attendance â€“ NOT private spiritual practices â€“ is what predicts better health outcomes**. A true follower of Christ, of course, does both. But these days private spirituality is so prevalent that the distinction must be made. So please take note, those of you who use RCC’s live-stream: you don’t get the health benefits as strongly as those who attend in person.
There IS value to the live-stream, but it’s meant for church-shoppers, for those who can’t attend service for health reasons, or as a precaution against COVID. If you are traveling, you should bless another church with your attendance. If you don’t want to miss RCC, watch online later (as some already do).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â It’s relevant that in Acts 19:6 and in other places the Holy Spirit was received by the laying on of hands.Â In other words, the Spirit’s power is mediated by contact with other believing humans.Â Ironically, although other believers can infect us with viruses, their net effect on our health â€“ and spirit â€“ is overwhelmingly positive.Â
I do get a lot of nutrition from Christian podcasts and telecasts. But it’s milk compared to the meat of meeting in person with YOU.
*an ongoing study Associated with the Harvard School of Public Health
** See the cover story in November issue of Christianity Today.