Going to Church Makes a Difference
No doubt about it; church is good for us, in more ways than one. Research (American Sociological Review, Dec 2010) shows that people who attend religious services together on a regular basis and build friendships within their congregation indicate higher levels of satisfaction with their lives. Strength of religious convictions and private religious practices such as prayer do not by themselves indicate higher level of satisfaction. Isn’t that interesting? Being with people in our faith makes the difference.
What seems to make a difference in our lives is having a strong sense of religious identity and belonging to a community of people that we care for and who care for us. What also matters is forging friendships within our faith community. Just going to church isn’t what makes the difference; rather connecting with other people is the difference maker. It would seem that neither faith nor communities per se is what are difference makers in our level of satisfaction with life but rather communities of faith. Life satisfaction is more closely tied to praying with and for other people than it is to bowling with other people or playing softball with other people or playing cards with other people.
Going to church makes a difference in our lives in lots of ways but clearly connecting with other people of faith (even when the specifics of their faith may be different from our own) adds to the level of satisfaction that we feel in life. I recently ran into an old friend of mine and as he shared a new found connection with going to church on a regular basis he beamed with a new level of satisfaction in his life. His story bears out what the research shows – being a part of a community of faith makes us happier. I look forward to seeing you in church.
D. Robert Chance