Posted: Jan 2, 2011 5:31 PM by Matt Stafford
Church services often have a lot of energy to get you going in the morning. You see a lot of happy faces in the crowd, but is it the religion making them happy or just being with friends?
A study from the University of Wisconsin - Madison -- looking at just that -- says the social aspect of church adds more to your well-being than the spirituality.
"I don't fully agree with that," says Harlan Else, an assistant pastor at Fellowship of the Rockies in Colorado Springs. He says friendships are a big part, but not all of it.
"I think, for our people at least, it's a combination of both." Else explains.
"Going to a service is just one part of church," says Laddie Blaskowski, a local churchgoer.
Blaskowski is part of one of the smaller groups that Fellowship of the Rockies offers; studying their religion, but doing it together.
"Having relationships with other Christians, that helps you to mature," says Blaskowski.
That's not just for Christians; the study shows the same for eight different religious groups -- the only group that didn't apply was a group for people with no religious affiliation.
So, just getting in the door won't do the trick.
"If you just come to church and you don't have friends, and you're not in a small group, you don't have that personal involvement," explains Earl Friesen, another local churchgoer.
Friesen's comments go right along with the study. Researchers say religious relationships run deeper than ones created through many other social networks; they say it's because of the similar identity, through their religion, and with that comes a sense of belonging.
The study even shows that many people find more happiness from small groups, like Blaskowski's, than they do from internal religious feelings.
"That's where you really share your lives together," Friesen explains.
However, Friesen and Blaskowski both say, ultimately, their religion was the reason for showing up.
If you would like to see more on the University of Wisconsin study, click here.