So I find that a lot of people would like to honestly say they are “very happy.”
It turns out that the more often people attend church, the more likely they are to say that describes them.:
But weirdly, I don’t know how many people would be willing to prescribe church as a means to gain happiness!
Pastors might not want to set that expectation, as the focus is meant to be on experiencing God — and loving God and our neighbors.
And skeptics might find it disingenuous to go to church in order to get happiness. Again, that doesn’t seem like the purpose of church.
I wonder: Does it even work to get happiness from church if that’s why you’re there? Isn’t the measured increase in happiness a byproduct of sincere participation in church?
From personal experience, it seems what brings happiness is the experience of being loved by God and belonging to a loving community and participating in meaningful activities together. If I felt the hymns were false, the sermon empty, and the people nice but deluded, I think I’d be more irritated than joyful from a Sunday at church.
Perhaps this data can be one part of a gentle suggestion or an invitation. What is it about this community that leads to such happiness among the most involved? There are many theories, but one is that they are encountering God - a God of joy and love. If so, it might be worth coming along and checking it out…
What do you make of this study?