01 January 2016
Head to church this New Year - good for your health and your soul
New research released by the Evangelical Alliance shows that going to church is good for your physical and your spiritual health. This New Year, heading to church might be the one resolution to benefit both your body and soul.
More than nine out of 10 evangelicals had been in good health during the past year – that's compared to just three quarters of all English adults. Even more said that Christians should lead healthy lifestyles to look after their God-given bodies.
Two thirds of evangelical Christians surveyed in late 2015 said their church offers practical support for those facing health issues.
The research, published exclusively in the Alliance's idea magazine, demonstrates the vital role both personal belief and being part of a church community can play.
Amaris Cole, editor at the Evangelical Alliance, commented on the research: "The Church is great for providing care for people, and helping them when times are tough. Evangelicals clearly benefit from their beliefs, and the community around them can make a life-changing difference.
"But there's much more that the Church can do to promote healthy lifestyles – less than one in 10 have heard sermons on living a healthy lifestyle or other health issues; if our bodies are temples we need to help people look after them."
The Evangelical Alliance also released a 10 step guide for churches to help their congregation live healthier lives. From swapping the biscuits for fruit for the after-service snack to taking the prayer meeting on patrol by walking around the neighbourhood, small changes can make a big difference.
Amaris Cole went on: "There's an old joke that church can be as dangerous as a helicopter – be careful otherwise you'll get caught in the rotas. We want churches to also take seriously the emotional and mental health of their congregations and it should bother us that a quarter say church responsibilities have caused significant stress."
The motivation to live a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of a community that care are part of why going to church is an ideal New Year's resolution, but that's not the extent of why it's good for your health. An astonishing 98 per cent believe that God can miraculously heal, and 86 per cent reported that their church prays for the sick in worship services. Many wanted help praying for the sick with six out of 10 wanting more training from their church.
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Clearly the research indicates going to church is good for your health, but if that's all it is then there's something missing. For church attendance to be true to itself, it must go deeper and be food for the soul.
"How about a New Year's resolution that goes beyond gym membership and explores the meaning of life?"
Tel: 07766 444 650
Notes to Editors
- idea magazine is available online at www.eauk.org/idea
- A summary of the research findings can be read here: http://www.eauk.org/idea/warning-the-church-is-seriously-good-for-your-health.cfm
- 10 steps to a healthier church can be read here: http://www.eauk.org/idea/10-steps-to-a-healthier-church.cfm
- The survey was taken by 1,703 people who self-described as evangelicals.
- Comparative figures for the general public for state of health in the past 12 months come from the Health Survey for England: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/article/2021/Website-Search?productid=19585&q=health+survey+for+england&sort=Relevance&size=10&page=1&area=both#top
- Further comparative national figures on wellbeing are also available from the ONS National Well-being project: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_398059.pdf
- Spokespeople are available for interview
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.