by Dick Innes
Leon Norsworthy, a very successful family man and business leader, was promoted to the directorship of a national organization—a promotion which involved a move to another city for him and his family.
Before buying a new home in the general vicinity of his work and moving his family, however, Leon and his wife, Sally, did an interesting thing. They first looked for a good church, and when they found the one they felt would best meet their family needs, they then bought a house close to the church.
They did this because they have experienced the benefits of belonging to a good church and realize its importance for personal, family and spiritual life.
The Norsworthys aren’t alone in their feelings about the church. In fact, 120 million or 61 percent of Americans belong to a church. What other volunteer organization can boast such a following?
True, every church has some weaknesses and some churches suit some people more than others, but for the church to survive for 2,000 years and continue to thrive as it has, there has to be many benefits to attract and hold its vast following. The following are some of the most important ones:
Improved family life. A Gallup poll showed that the number one personal need expressed by 82 percent of the American adult population was having a “good family life.”
Many people besides the Norsworthys believe the church helps make for a good family life. In a special study, Edward A. Rauff, director of the Research and Information Center of the Lutheran Church Council in the U.S.A., found that the dominant reason a high percentage of the respondents gave for establishing a relationship with a church was “to keep the family together and to strengthen family life.”1
That the church helps strengthen family life is supported by a study conducted by sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia. His conclusions showed that couples who attend church regularly are 42 percent more likely to be married for the first time, and those in the church who were committed to its beliefs had a 23 percent better chance of having a “very happy” marriage than those who don’t go to church.
Friendship. Two more benefits provided by the church are friendship and a sense of belonging.
The number one reason people gave
for joining a new church home was
‘the friendliness of the people.’
In their book, Growth, a New Vision for the Sunday School, Charles Arn, Donald McGavran, and Win Arn emphasize the important part that friendship plays in a live and growing church. Surveys and personal interviews have shown that this is what attracts most people and what keeps them actively involved. In fact, the number one reason people gave for joining a new church home was “the friendliness of the people.”
Personal care. Another benefit of the church is its care for and support of its members.
I’ve belonged to churches where members band together to care for the sick, provide volunteer therapy for the handicapped, take meals to the shut-in, provide homes for the poor, give care to the aged, and provide social activities for the youth.
One church I belonged to sponsored a divorce and grief recovery program, and provided support groups for parents of teens and pre-teens, for codependents, for singles, for helping people with sexual, drug and alcohol addictions, for incest and rape victims, for those with eating disorders, and care groups for everybody in the entire church.
Inner peace and strength. It is true that some people go to church for false motives, but most, like me, are people who have blown it at times, who have fallen and made mistakes who are struggling to become the person they feel God wants them to be, and know if they are going to make it, they need a power greater than their own.
They go to church because here, in spite of their failures, they have found, not only acceptance by God and others, but also a sense of inner peace knowing that their sins are forgiven by God and that their life is right with Him. In addition, with the loving support of fellow believers, they have found strength to help them cope with the struggles of every day life.
One hard-working electrical contractor explained his feeling this way, “I was tired of the everyday grind. I really felt all along that there was something missing. I went to church as a youth just about every Sunday. I went to boot camp. And then I lost it. I couldn’t put my finger on it, even though I tried and tried again. My children started going to Sunday School, my wife started, and I said, ‘Maybe this is what I’m missing.’ So I tried it, and it was.”2
In a good church one can find God …
and his will and direction for one’s life.
Finding God and his will for your life. There are many more benefits gained from belonging to a good church, not the least being: learning about God; experiencing meaningful worship; finding inspiration and help for daily living; and having an opportunity to use your abilities to serve others.
Perhaps the most important benefit of all is that in a good church one can find God … and his will and direction for one’s life.
The Gallup poll mentioned earlier also brought out an interesting facet of American life. At the time of this poll 61 percent of all Americans aged 18 and above want to follow God’s will.
With God, life (even with all its hurts and frustrations) becomes more meaningful and purposeful. Furthermore, with God one can find forgiveness for all his sins and wrong-doing, make his or her peace with him, and receive the hope of eternal life.
Belonging to a good church is so beneficial for both individuals and families that it is well worth finding a church where leaders and members not only love God and believe and teach his Word, but also where they are loving, accepting, and non-judgmental; where they present grace with truth; and where they are committed to ministering to each others’ needs. That’s why God designed the church.
1. Why People Join the Church, p. 73.
2. Ibid, pp. 105-106