6 Benefits of Attending Church

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6 Benefits of Attending Church

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

And why I believe that being in nature alone can’t replace it

Years ago, my small church group studied Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary L Thomas.

In his book, Thomas highlights a variety of ways that we can worship and connect with God, specific to our temperament and personality.

He shares nine spiritual temperaments or sacred pathways:

  1. Naturalists — love God best outdoors
  2. Sensates — love God through their senses
  3. Traditionalists — love God through religious rituals and symbols
  4. Ascetics — love God in solitude and simplicity
  5. Activists — love God through confrontation, fighting for godly principles
  6. Caregivers — love God by serving others
  7. Enthusiasts — love God through mystery and celebration
  8. Contemplatives — love God through adoration
  9. Intellectuals — love God with their mind

I recognized that although I can relate to a number of these, I respond most deeply to God through my experience of nature. Being outdoors replenishes me. It moves my heart and soul and strengthens my faith.

I love to bike in the summertime, hike in the fall, and snowshoe in the winter months. Being in nature is like a balm to my soul.

But can being in nature replace church attendance?

Years ago, I may have said yes. But since COVID I’ve changed my mind.

For two years — like most people — I attended church via Zoom. But when the doors re-opened once again and all restrictions finally lifted, I returned.

My return surprised me.

Although I stayed connected with God in nature during those COVID years, it wasn’t the same as attending a church service. Returning on a Sunday morning after being away for so long highlighted the benefits of church for me.

1. Fellowship

There is something that moves the spirit to be in the same room with a group of people who share the same beliefs and values. There is a sense of community that is warm and welcoming.

As much as I love my friends and neighbours, most of them are not Christian. I don’t feel as comfortable talking with them about Jesus and my relationship with Him as I do with my fellow churchgoers.

2. Reverence

Physically being in a place of worship dedicated to glorifying God, our entire time is focused on connecting with Him. It’s a place that allows us to feel true reverence and peace.

I love bending a knee or lifting up my hands in praise…something I wouldn’t feel as comfortable doing while riding my bike along a country road.

3. Support

Leaning on a network of people for prayer is comforting. Some people meet for prayer, call each other on prayer chains, and pray before the service.

I find great comfort when a fellow congregant approaches me at church and asks about me and my family, and lets me know that we are regularly in their prayers.

4. Connection

The church supports people and agencies within our community and our world. They offer opportunities to donate time and money to those in need.

Reaching others through the pooling of donations makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than just me. I’m part of the solution.

5. Teaching

Through the pastor’s sermon, the songs, and discussions with others we can learn more about ourselves and about God.

Many times a message can feel like it is directed specifically at me in my need at that moment.

6. Singing

Music can uplift us. Joining in song with others has a way of uniting us in agreement with the lyrics and each other.

Sometimes I will stop singing just to listen to the voices of the saints around me. I smile when I think of the sound lifting up to the heavens.

Going to church has true benefits. I’ve even read that those who attend church are healthier than the general population (although I haven’t researched this).

Attending church even provides wonderful ways to connect with God through our preferred spiritual pathway. Although I’m a true naturalist, I also have a blend of other pathways that bend me toward worship and adoration of God that are best met by going to church.

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