It is her first time attending church as a single mother. She enters the church carrying her 18-month-old son, his twin sister clinging to her leg. The woman's three other children — all under age 6 — push, shove and laugh. She wants to be invisible, but the noise turns every eye in her direction. She slides into a pew near the exit, fighting the urge to leave before the meeting starts.
As the meeting begins, she passes out books and crayons and hands out Cheerios to the wiggling children. A man stands and begins to speak. He has recently returned from doing missionary work. The woman is touched by the passion this man has when he speaks about God, and she wonders, "Why couldn't I have fallen in love with someone like this?"
Suddenly, one of the twins begins to bawl like a baby calf calling for its mother. The woman knows everyone in the room is aware of her even though only a few turn to look. She scoops up her children and heads out the door thinking, "What is the point?"
What is the point of church attendance? Why attend church in an organized religion when you can have God in your heart every day?
End loneliness and isolation. Find friends and create family
Your family will be mentally healthier and happier if you attend church. The Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies shared these findings (which are supported by the work of James C. Patterson II, MD and PhD, in his article "Religion and Mental Health: Going to Church is Good for You.") Findings suggest that church attendance, or participating in an organized religion, improves mental and physical health. Dr. Patterson said, "Being involved in a church not only encourages us to interact with fellow believers, the latest scientific research shows it can help lower rates of depression. So remember, always eat your green beans and stay active in church — it's good for you!"
End addictions, find support for victims of abuse and heal suffering
The American Psychological Association interviewed Kenneth Pargament, PhD, who shared exciting news. He said, "Psychologists are now developing and evaluating a variety of spiritually integrated approaches to treatment, including: forgiveness programs to help divorced people come to terms with bitterness and anger; programs to help survivors of sexual abuse deal with their spiritual struggles; treatments for women with eating disorders that draw on their spiritual resources; and programs that help drug abusers re-connect to their higher selves..."
Many organized religions support their members by offering free or reduced cost counseling, 12-step recovery programs and clergy members who care deeply for their members. A church can offer you resources as well as support that is tailored to you and your family. Some religions even provide spiritual guidance on healthy eating and safe activities for youth, providing many opportunities to build wonderful friendships. A church that focuses on youth can be your ally in raising healthy, happy children.
Achieve success at school and a higher education.
Christianity Today reports that children who attend church are more likely to get good grades and be more successful in college or higher level learning. Perhaps this is because, when you regularly attend church, you are not the only one teaching your child. Church gives you an army of caring adults with like-minded values who can help when your teen won't listen to a word you say or when you feel lost.
Receive expert guidance as you raise your children.
When you invite God to help you raise your children, you have invited the only person who loves your children more and knows your children better than you do. You have someone who sees all, knows all and wants you to talk to Him — someone who speaks to your heart to help your family succeed. All you have to do is ask in faith.
Find your happily ever after, and improve your love relationship
Church attendance improves marriages according to Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D, who said, "The practice of religion not only stabilizes marriage, but also improves its quality." He quotes Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia, saying, "...the more frequently husbands attended religious services, the happier their wives said they were with the level of affection and understanding that they received and the amount of time that their husbands spent with them..." Attending church improves intimacy.
Once upon a time, I was that young single mother taking her five children to church, and I can tell you what church did for us. It gave my children values, adult role models, a safe place to interact with peers, counseling when they needed it, caring clergy leaders and much more. What did it give me? Remember the young man who spoke that first Sunday? I married him. Attending church helped give me a second chance at love and an adoptive father for my children, a father who loves God as much as I do.
Shannon Symonds, Author of Safe House due to be released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an Advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising 6 children in Seaside Oregon. She loves to write, run and Laugh