On Sunday April 12th we began a sermon series at The Edge Church called “Why Church?” where we wrestle with the validity and significance, if any, of the local church. That morning, I (Pete) shared from a scientific approach – I was careful to not quote Scripture and simply use data, science and facts to demonstrate a point.
The sources I chose to use were almost exclusively non-Christian. In other words, I did my best to use “unbiased” opinions of scientists, researchers, pollsters and other authorities instead of quoting from the Bible to make the case for the local church.
Allow me to explain what I mean by approaching this topic with a scientific mindset…
The Scientific Approach
When thinking about the church specifically, someone who’s taking a scientific approach might make statements such as these:
The church is irrelevant in today’s culture/age
The Bible is filled with many inaccuracies and cannot be trusted
Science and religion don’t mix
Religion is a crutch for the weak minded
Church has and does nothing for me
When taking this approach to church, it’s no wonder we struggle to validate the purpose and need for a local church! But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, let’s take a look at why church matters from a scientific standpoint.
Scientific Benefits of Regular Church Attendance
Below you’ll find hard data, mostly found by unchurched, non-Christian sources, as to why church matters and how it benefits us.
PHYSICAL – it boosts our immune system (according to Duke Medical Center), lowers blood pressure (according to the New York Times) and causes us to live 7-14 years longer (according to webmd and MANY other sources).
EMOTIONAL – It gives us more personal satisfaction in life (University of Chicago), lowers our risk of severe depression by 22% (Canadian Journal of Psychiatry) and increases positive emotions while also decreasing negative emotions (Gallup poll – see chart below).
PERSONAL – Attending church regularly helps us to manage life (Bainbridge, William Sims, “The Religious Ecology of Deviance,” American Sociological Review, 1989, 54: 288-295) and time (Freeman, Richard B. 1985. “Who Escapes? The Relation of Churchgoing and Other Background Factors to the Socioeconomic Performance of Black Male Youths from Inner-City Tracts.” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 1656) better, we’re more likely to complete academic degrees and achieve other academic goals (Regnerus, Mark D. 2000. “Shaping Schooling Success: Religious Socialization and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Public Schools,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion39: 363-370. Also see, Regnerus, Mark D. 2001. “Making the Grade: The Influence of Religion Upon the Academic Performance of Youth in Disadvantaged Communities,” University of Pennsylvania, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society Report No. 3 44: 394-413.) and it gives us an increased mental well-being (Johnson, Byron R., Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb. 2002. “Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society).
MARITAL / SEXUAL – It benefits our marriages, helps us rate our sex partners as ‘extremely enjoyable’ (U of Chicago again) and causes us to be much less likely to have sex outside marriage (one source of many- this source is likely religious).
There are many, many more studies from other sources – Christian and non-Christian – that demonstrate the benefit that church attendance has on our lives.
Why don’t you consider being a part of The Edge Church here in Knighdale? Come skeptical, come with questions, come ready to disagree – but most importantly, come as you are. Your marriage, emotions, physical bodies and personal lives will be better for it.