Gallup research conducts and maintains a “Well-Being Index” on various aspects of Americans well being. Well, well, what do you think they found? “In U.S. Churchgoers Boast Better Mood, especially on Sundays.” (Gallup – Healthways Well-Being Index in 2011) The study was done by Chaeyoon Lim who sub-titled the study “Those who don’t attend religious services often see their mood decline.”
I am not saying that church should always be a “feel-good” experience, frankly if folks left worship from First St Johns and they didn’t feel a little, oh I don’t know, disturbed? If they didn’t feel a little challenged, a little pushed, I’d probably be disappointed. Sure I want people to be pumped up, encouraged, thankful to God and renewed in their relationship with Jesus. Frankly I’m not surprised that they are in a better mood. Even if they’ve been challenged, pushed, they still know whose they are, our Father’s. They know that they are part of the Body of Christ, surrounded by brothers and sisters in Jesus and ready to start a new week in the Lord standing for the Lord in the world. So yes they should leave worship in a “Better Mood”.
“…regular churchgoers seem to do better than non-churchgoers… in terms of their daily positive wellbeing experiences. This underscores previous Gallup research that finds very religious Americans do better across numerous dimensions of well being than do those who are less religious or not at all religious.”
And look, don’t give me any of this “Moonie effect” or other non-sense, there is no doubt in my mind that the general “well-being” of Americans has been directly related to the decrease of community and especially being a part of a church community. This goofy idea that you will be happier sitting at home watching television by yourself, thinking that you are genuinely getting community on your computer, the stories go on and on and you know them as well as I do. The solution, get off your quista and get out among real human beings. As we as a culture continue to cut ourselves off from each other, the worse our life attitude will be. Sit home by ourselves, isolated and vulnerable, Satan picks us off one by one. The Bible tells us two are better than one, we all need others to “have our back”, where better than brothers and sisters in Jesus?
The study goes on to report: “Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays – while the rest of Americans see a decline in their mood. The average number of positive emotions frequent churchgoers report experiencing rises up to a high of 3..49 for the week on Sundays, whereas for those who attend church monthly or less often, the average number peaks on Saturdays and declines to a range of 3.14 to 3.29 on Sundays.” Yea, you read that right, on the day before we have to go back to the old salt mine, people who attend worship actually get a bump in their wellbeing. There is a sense of being secure in something bigger, knowing you are with like-minded brothers and sisters in Jesus and the research confirms this: “…the research found that friendship in church is more strongly correlated with life satisfaction than friendships in other contexts such as the workplace or a book club. It is not only that churchgoing Americans may be more likely to socialize on Sundays, but also that they are spending time with co-religionists who can especially boost their mood.”
Let’s face it, church does put you into proximity of people who are like-minded, feel secure being in church and something to readily share with each other. (Hopefully it’s not, ‘wow, pastor’s sermon was brutal today.’) This research lines up with so many other studies that show numerous positive outcomes to church, worship, prayer etc. While the world stresses individuality, isolation, “feeling good” in things such as materialism, covetousness, sex, drugs, booze and rock and roll, the reality is that well being is found in church, in worship, in the presence of those who are brothers and sisters in Christ. It stands to reason, we come into the presence of the almighty Creator, Sustainer of all things. He knows us better than we know ourself, He forgives us, He has given us a way through the sacrifice of Jesus to come into relationship with the all knowing, all powerful Lord of all. We have the assurance that through the forgiveness we have in Christ’s sacrifice that we will have eternal life in a new perfect world, the world that the Father intended before we messed it up with our sin. If all this doesn’t enhance your “well-being” then you need to sit down with your pastor and have a long serious discussion.