Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here… Study after study indicate that “church-goers” are happier, healthier and more satisfied with life. I’ve been reading these studies and articles since the 1980s.
An American Medical Association study (May 2016) discovered those who regularly attend church services have a better chance of living longer.
Isn’t that what the Bible says?
“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years and your life will be satisfying.”
—Proverbs 3: 2, 16 (NLT)
The following is a commentary on the study from the Washington Post:
Over a 20-year span, the study surveyed a group of more than 76,000 female nurses, most of whom were Catholic and Protestant. At the end of 20 years, more than 13,000 of them had died. The women who went to religious services more than once a week, it turned out, were 33 percent less likely to be in that group who died, compared to those who never attended services.
Tyler VanderWeele, a researcher at Harvard J.H. Chan School of Public Health who co-wrote the study, said the effect diminished as the study participants decreased their service attendance. Those who attended services once a week saw their odds of dying go down 26 percent. For those who attended less than weekly, the odds of dying decreased 13 percent, VanderWeele said.
That led the study's authors to a striking recommendation: "Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate," they wrote. "Our results do not imply that health care professionals should prescribe attendance at religious services, but for those who already hold religious beliefs, attendance at services could be encouraged as a form of meaningful social participation."
VanderWeele said that other studies have suggested a similar link between service attendance and decreased mortality, but his team aimed to prove that service attendance actually causes the better health outcomes. Because the nurses answered questionnaires periodically over a long time frame, he said, the researchers were able to look at whether a change in service attendance led to a change in health.
They found numerous benefits associated with attending services. Women who started going to services then became more likely to quit smoking and less likely to show signs of depression, for instance — even when the researchers controlled for a long list of other variables, from age and exercise habits to income and other non-religious social engagement. The effect of religious attendance, they found, was stronger than that of any other form of participation in a social group like a book club or a volunteer organization.
"We were a bit surprised, initially, by the magnitude of the findings," VanderWeele said. He said they found a long list of positive effects: "Service attendance is increasing social support. Through social norms, it's also decreasing the likelihood of smoking. Perhaps through some of the messages of hope, it's decreasing depressive symptoms. Perhaps self-discipline, a sense of meaning or purpose in life — it's not just one pathway."
He continued, "I don't think it's one single reason that this effect is emerging. I think it's that service attendance affects so many different aspects of life."
More Resources on Living Longer, Healthier, Satisfying Lives
I have to thank Pastor Terry Ciona of our Pleasant Valley Church in Brantford, ON. He recently sent me a list of resources on why studies show believers live longer, healthier and more satisfying lives. Take a look at a few of the following studies and newspaper articles:
Benefits of Church:
1) Church going is connected with better health: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2006/10/23/churchgoing-correlated-with-better-health-a/
2) Church goers live longer:
3) Church goers have lower risks of depression:
4) Churches contribute positively in many ways to the community: financially, socially, spiritually https://www.cardus.ca/organization/news/282/
5) Church goers are happier:
6) Church goers have stronger marriages:
7) Church goers have stronger families:
So make sure you gather with your church family this Sunday… and here’s to a long, healthy life together!
Have a blessed week,