First of all, this is not going to be an article about “which” church you need. I’ll leave you to your own studies to figure that out. So put away your Bibles, notes, and Bible commentaries.
Secondly, this is not about all the “salvation” reasons you need church, although there are plenty of those.
I want to tell you why you need church from a mental health standpoint.
Every counselor, as he gets to know a client, will always be interested in learning about a person’s social support network, which essentially refers to the people in the client’s life that they can count on in times of need. Several studies have demonstrated that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to good mental health by giving you a sense of belonging, increasing your sense of self-worth, and providing a feeling of security.
People today are living lives of isolation. Families are fractured and or scattered, and therefore not available as a ready resource. People don’t know how to make friends or have been wounded in the past and are unwilling to try again. And lest you think this picture is exclusive to areas of dense population, I work in a very rural setting and find all this to be true here, as well.
People may be fully engaged on Facebook, and I’ll agree this can have positive benefits, but there is nothing that can take the place of someone you can see and touch face to face.
Of course if I throw out the word “church” into this conversation there will be that usual chorus of protest and objection – “they’re just a bunch of hypocrites!” Can we be honest for a second? Name me one organization (of any type) that doesn’t have hypocrites in it. (cue “crickets chirping in the lingering silence”) Exactly. You can’t do it. So let’s lay that worn-out excuse aside.
Here are the immediate benefits of being a part of church (remember, I’m talking exclusively about the mental health benefits):
- You will be surrounded by people with a common goal, service to God and others, which will give you a sense of belonging.
- There will be people there who will encourage you, not tear you down.
- You will see people who are trying to do the right thing (which is very encouraging in this world of negative examples).
- You can find opportunities to get outside of yourself and focus on being of service to other people.
- If you let your needs be known, there will be people who will pray for you, offer a lending hand to you, or a shoulder to cry on, all of which will decrease your feelings of insecurity.
- You will be a part of a group of people who realize that getting too carried away with the cares of this life is time wasted.
I can hear all of those “Yeah, buts” ringing out after each of these benefits. But listen, if you want to find a reason to object, you will find one. I’ll not arm wrestle you over that. I’m just telling you that being a part of a caring, loving, church family could be exactly what you need to lift you out of that dark, lonely place you’ve been living in for so long.
I pray you’ll give it a chance.