The church often gets a bad rap in the media. We hear a lot about the fact that millennials are leaving in droves, the “dones” are done and the dechurched are, well, nowhere to be found.
It would be nice to hear some good news about the church, right? Well, you’re in luck. Stay with me.
According to a Gallup poll, the primary reasons that Americans attend church are for “spiritual growth and guidance” and to stay “grounded/inspired.” Faith and worshipping God fall in 3rd and 4th place, accounting for 15 percent of responses each.
But a recent study by JAMA Internal Medicine could add another item to that list: lifespan.
Researchers examined 74,534 middle-aged female nurses in the U.S. in conjunction with a Nurses’ Health Study, and they questioned their church attendance patterns from 1992 to 2012. After accounting for major lifestyle risk factors, the study found that “attending a religious service more than once per week was associated with 33 percent lower all-cause mortality compared with women who had never attended religious services.”
Even less frequent attendance reflected a lower death risk. Those who went to church once a week had a 26 percent lower risk, and those who attended less than once per week landed at a 13 percent lower risk.
In addition, the study concluded that “frequent attendance at religious services was associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality among women. Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate.”
According to Dr. Dan German Blazer II, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center, “there have been literally thousands of studies” performed to assess whether religion is linked to health benefits. Though results aren’t conclusive across all religious branches, “the one (aspect) that is significantly more predictive of good health is about religious service attendance,” added Blazer.
Due to these startling facts, more medical school curriculums are starting to implement these findings in order to make religion a more prominent focus in medical care.
Well, look at that. All those Sundays you spent in the pew aren’t only allowing you to grow in your relationship with God, but they could be tacking on the golden years too.
And whether church attendance is an ultimate predictor of life expectancy or not, it’s pretty awesome that God might finally be getting a little acknowledgment in science. It’s about time that the great and mighty Healer is offered His rightful place in the medical community that He created. 😉