A recent coverage by Michelle Healy explored research that found that attending religious services regularly and having close friends in the congregation are highly correlated with have a happier, more satisfying life.
Although numerous studies have shown that religious people report a higher level of well-being compared with the non-religious, Chaeyoon Lim, lead author of the study released in the December issue of American Sociological Review, isolated what aspect of religiousness — church attendance, prayer, theology or spirituality — accounts for this increased level of life satisfaction. Lim’s study found that assuming similar levels of church attendance, it was the religious connection built around identity and belonging that was the key factor determining happiness. Lim said, “Ninety percent of the correlation between church attendance and life satisfaction can be explained if you have these close interactions.”
In today’s world, you can live in a community with a million people and still feel very much alone. There is very little sense of community on a crowded freeway or in a bustling mall of frantic shoppers. Christmas is a time of year that almost calls out for the closeness that a family provides. As with churches through the centuries, the “scent of love” at the center of the family of God beckons like a flower to the bee. There’s a “family” waiting to welcome you in your community. Risk attending Christ’s birthday party this year, and you just may come away with the greatest gift you could receive this Christmas—lasting friends willing to support and serve with you for an eternity.