Come back to church—it could save your life.


Regardless of how you feel about the pandemic or what you believe about it, one thing is for sure: we all want it to go away. Whether it will is itself a matter of debate, and the divisiveness created by COVID is likely to continue. As Christians, many of us will simply have to agree to disagree and, in the Spirit of Christ, walk in love toward one another.

As a pastor, one of my greatest concerns related to COVID has been the detachment of many former churchgoers from the body of Christ. While it is encouraging to see so many return, it remains a burden to know that a good number have simply adapted to a way of life that keeps them from the “assembling of ourselves together.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Lifeway Research found that 91% of regular church attenders are expected to return and resume the habit. However, in this same study, 7% stated they would not return. Reasons for their refusal varies, but fear of COVID is ranked at the top of the list. George Wood, writing for Influence Magazine, also cites sluggishness, lack of connection to begin with, and consumerism as other factors for not returning.

To those who have not yet returned or purpose not to, I would ask them to consider the fact that absence from church may be hazardous to their health. In the November issue of Christianity Today, Tyler Vanderweele and Brendan Case reported on “the public health crisis no one is talking about.” In their words, “Americans are rapidly giving up on church. Our minds and bodies will pay the price.”

Citing a number of studies, data reveals conclusively that “religious service attendance powerfully enhances health and well-being.” Parents, in particular, should know that regularly attending church helps protect children from depression, substance abuse, and pre-marital sex. One study indicated that young people who attend church have far less “deaths of despair”—suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol, than those who never attend. The number of women was reduced by 68% and 33% for men. According to Vanderweele and Case, reasons for this kind of protection include the church’s doctrine and the social support it offers.

Clearly, the New Testament teaching on the church involves scriptural guidance, support systems, and a sense of accountability. A healthy community of faith understands that brothers and sisters in Christ are responsible for one another and serve as God’s agents to help bring about life change.

We should also consider the following reductions in health risks among church attenders compared to non-attenders:

• 33% reduced risk of death,

• 84% reduced risk of suicide,

• 29% reduced risk of depression, and

• 50% reduced risk of divorce.

The mounting evidence for the health benefits of attending church should give pause to millions who now identify as “spiritual but not religious” and who are giving up on organized church.

Speaking as a pastor, it is my heart’s desire that coming to Faith Family Church will not only provide a structure for “social support” but also be a place to encounter God, a place where Christ ministers to people through his body the church. My prayer is that our members will actively serve one another according to their spiritual gifts for the “edifying of the church in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

A healthy community of faith understands that brothers and sisters in Christ are responsible for one another and serve as God’s agents to help bring about life change.

For those of our flock who’ve yet to return, know that you are loved and missed. We will continue to serve you as best we can and will pray for your return. And may the Lord bring an end to the pandemic and grant us the freedom to worship together in spirit and in truth.

The health that church brings is more than just spiritual health.