Church 'good for your physical health'
Going to church appears to be good for your physical as well as your spiritual health - that's according to new research released by the Evangelical Alliance
More than nine out of 10 evangelicals had been in good health during the past year, compared to three quarters of all English adults. Even more said that Christians should lead healthy lifestyles to look after their God-given bodies.
Two thirds of the evangelical Christians surveyed in late 2015 said their church offers practical support for those facing health issues.
Despite the relative good health of their members, only nine per cent say their church teaches about health issues and the importance of being healthy. Around a quarter say church responsibilities have caused 'significant stress.'
Virtually all (98 per cent) think that God miraculously heals the sick today. Almost as many (86 per cent) said that their church pray for the sick in worship and organise hospital visits for the sick. Many wanted help praying for the sick with six out of 10 wanting more training from their church.
The research was published exclusively in the Alliance's idea magazine.
EA editor Amaris Cole said, 'The Church is great for providing care for people, and helping them when times are tough. Evangelicals clearly benefit from their beliefs, and the community around them can make a life-changing difference.
'But there's much more that the Church can do to promote healthy lifestyles – less than one in 10 have heard sermons on living a healthy lifestyle or other health issues; if our bodies are temples we need to help people look after them.'
The Evangelical Alliance has released a 10 step guide for churches to help their congregation live healthier lives. Ideas include swapping the biscuits for fruit for the after-service snack and taking the prayer meeting on patrol by walking around the neighbourhood.
Amaris continued, 'There's an old joke that church can be as dangerous as a helicopter – be careful otherwise you'll get caught in the rotas. We want churches to also take seriously the emotional and mental health of their congregations and it should bother us that a quarter say church responsibilities have caused significant stress.'
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, added, 'Clearly the research indicates going to church is good for your health, but if that's all it is then there's something missing. For church attendance to be true to itself, it must go deeper and be food for the soul.'