If someone offered you a low-risk, low-cost way to improve your health, would you try it?
Try participating in the life of a congregation.
Jesus heard them and answered,
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do.
I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers.
I came to invite sinners.”
— Mark 2:17 (CEV)
Lower your stress
Each week we confess our sins publicly and privately, with a unison prayer of confession and silence. Then while we hear assurance God’s forgiveness, I pour water into the Baptismal font reminding us of being cleansed by Christ. For at least a few seconds we learn to release concerns about what we have done and what has been done to us. For at least a few seconds we might escape the hurts of living in the world. For at least a few seconds we might recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in those worshiping alongside us. For at least a few seconds we might hear and receive healing for our spiritual wounds.
If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves,
and the truth isn’t in our hearts.
But if we confess our sins to God,
he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.
— 1 John 1:8-9 (CEV)
Scientists tell us that disease comes from a variety of sources: genetic traits, microbes, what we eat or neglected to eat, and the distress we experience each day. The ritual of forgiveness lowers our social stress, if only for a few seconds, so our bodies can better fight disease.
Develop your strengths
While your boss might assign you a variety of tasks that you despise, in a congregation you can choose which tasks to try and which to decline. You can develop new skills or develop skills that your career neglects.
When our band needed a drummer, I learned to beat a tempo, at least until someone with those gifts who did not use them at work. Another congregation gained an outstanding drummer when she continued taking lessons started for her son.
What skills might you exercise with a congregation? What new opportunities could those skills open in your future?
There are different ways to serve the same Lord,
and we can each do different things.
Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
— 1 Corinthians 12:5-6
Find Meaning for Life
Participating in something bigger than ourselves gives us meaning and purpose to life, a reason to wake up each morning with a smile.
Thriving congregations make meaningful contributions to their communities: feeding the hungry, building homes after a natural disaster, or helping our neighbors find employment.
People with a well-defined sense of meaning, live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
How might participating in the life of a congregation improve your health?