Christians who attend church services regularly may not do so because they believe it has positive effects for their health and longevity, but research indicates this is the case – going to services at least once each week is linked with significant benefits in various aspects of health. Several reasons may explain why these people tend to be healthier and to have a longer lifespan on average.
Below, Acts 1:8 Ministry, a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to making it easy for Christians to share their faith and provide outreach across the globe, touches upon a few of the reasons behind the correlation between church attendance and better health.
General Research Results
Numerous studies have found that attending church every week or more often is associated with several positive effects. Examples include less likelihood of high blood pressure, a reduced chance of developing depression, and a longer lifespan.
Research published in the Annals of Epidemiology in 2009 noted that dozens of studies had connected frequent church attendance with a longer lifespan.
People who go to church regularly tend to have better health habits in general than those who do not. For instance, they are less likely to smoke or chew tobacco, and they are less likely to drink alcohol excessively. It is more common for frequent churchgoers to only have sex within the context of marriage or a committed relationship. They believe the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be cared for accordingly.
Attending worship services and any social gathering afterward allows people to make and maintain friendships with like-minded believers. They have a greater sense of belonging to a particular community.
These men and women receive emotional support when they need it, helping them cope with stressful life events. Interestingly, studies find that congregation members appear to benefit more from giving support to other members. Frequent churchgoers also tend to have close relationships with family and friends, another important source of social support.
Psychologists and others in healthcare fields understand the advantages of an uplifting, calming ritual. A positive routine ritual is recognized as a significant stress-reliever. People are often encouraged to participate in daily meditation for this reason, aside from any spiritual reasons for meditating.
Although church is usually only attended once per week, that ritual appears to have positive psychological effects. Participating in a community of other believers enhances the experience.
A Sense of Meaning and Purpose
People who have a distinct sense of meaning and purpose in life tend to live longer on average than those who do not. This has been indicated in numerous studies, such as one published in the journal Psychological Science in 2014. Many of the studies focus on older adults, but this particular research looked at adults of all ages.
The reasons for this finding are not entirely clear. Perhaps people who strongly believe their lives have meaning take better care of themselves. They may avoid risky behavior because they believe their existence on this planet is important on some level. They are here to achieve something and to make the world a better place. That sense of meaning often is connected with optimism. Research shows that optimists generally live longer, healthier lives.
In addition, being able to take all problems to the Lord is a way to reduce stress. Trusting in God decreases stress even when the person is facing a severe challenge or a terrible loss, like a life-threatening illness or the death of a loved one.
There appears to be something specific about actually going to church that is beneficial compared with listening to religious radio programs or watching those programs on TV. One study found that people who often engaged in those particular activities had a higher blood pressure than those who did not. This research was published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine in 1998.
What This Means on a Practical Level
Only a relatively small percentage of people who say they are Christian go to church every week. A Gallup survey published in 2018 found that about 45 percent of Protestants and 39 percent of Catholics report participating this often.
Those who have not regularly been attending may want to make a positive change starting this week. They’ll have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the Lord. They’ll also have the chance to appreciate all the benefits that scientific research has found connected with this activity.
About Acts 1:8 Ministry:
Acts 1:8 Ministry is a non-profit organization that equips Christians to care, share and connect people to Christ through Christian kindness. The Planned Acts of Christian Kindness® Program has touched thousands of lives in the US and over 100 countries worldwide. Through the Water Project, over 130 water wells drilled, blessing hundreds of thousands of lives with clean water.