19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV)
Jesus told His disciples that where two or three gathered in the Lord’s name, Jesus would also be there. And the previous verse suggests that this gathering together should probably include a time of prayer.
It tells us several things, but most importantly that we have to deliberately meet together in the Lord’s name. In other words, two or three Christian men watching a football game together does not necessarily qualify as gathering in Jesus name, though it could.
Because, there is a church in our city where Christians have developed a home group around football. Though they have this common secular interest, the purpose of the group is spiritual. They are gathering in Jesus’ name.
And when we deliberately do this, Jesus says that He will be the unseen presence at these meetings, and this can bring healing both physically and spiritually.
So, it should not surprise us that several studies have revealed the benefits of regular church attendance.
In a recent article on Christianity Today, authors Tyler J. VanderWeele and Brendan Case cited several studies indicating the meaningful physical and mental benefits of regular church attendance.
One study revealed that ‘deaths of despair’ (including suicide and drug overdoses) are 68% lower for women who regularly attend services and 33% lower for men.
Another study found that medical workers, such as nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers were 29% less likely to experience depression if they regularly gathered in Jesus name. This same study also reported they were five times less likely to commit suicide and also had 50% fewer divorces. (READ: Religious Service Attendance and Deaths Related to Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide Among US Health Care Professionals)
Regular church attendance also resulted in:
- People living longer: SOURCE: Religiosity/Spirituality and Mortality
- Having better survival rates for cancer and heart issues: SOURCE: Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women
- Experiencing less depression: SOURCE: Religious Service Attendance and Lower Depression Among Women—a Prospective Cohort Study
- Less drug and alcohol abuse: SOURCE: Social integration in young adulthood and the subsequent onset of substance use and disorders among a community population of urban African Americans
- Having better life satisfaction: SOURCE: Religion, Social Networks, and Life Satisfaction
These are a few of the untold benefits of regular church attendance.
But it is also important that we not underestimate the power of smaller groups, as the Lord promises to show up when only two or three gather in His name.