Does Being Religious Make You Happier? Recent Studies May Surprise Regular Churchgoers


Modern American church-goers may be surprised to learn that for more than 1,000 years, church services were conducted a little bit differently than they are today. The idea of congregants sitting in pews while they listen to a sermon is a relatively recent invention: before churches began to use pews, congregants stood for the duration of the sermon and could move around as they wished. Nowadays, it is considered polite to remain seated in one\’s place for the duration of the church service, but there are still some churches around the world in which worshipers are expected to stand for as long as three hours.

About a century ago, churches in America would \”rent\” pews in order to raise money. Although it may have been prestigious to rent the first pew, ministers and fellow churchgoers must have raised a collective eyebrow if people who paid for reserved seating were absent from church services. And well before the idea of pew rental became popular, the seating arrangement of most churches was even more unusual.

From the 17th through the 19th centuries, congregants were seated in church according to their wealth and social status. Individuals with the most money were seated closest to the front, and the poorest churchgoers could only hope to find a place to stand quietly in the back. This practice persisted for centuries, but remains unheard of today.

Today, churches focus on charitable giving, community works of faith, and on taking the time to perform outreach to new churchgoers. The picture of a church steeple is beautiful, and some churches find that their steeples need to be repaired after many years of rain and snow work some minor damage on the shingles and wooden structures.

Of course, there is occasionally the need to perform some church maintenance projects: pews see such heavy use that they do need to be refinished and resealed from time to time. Churches with antique pews that date back centuries may also wish to consider having their pews updated and fixed, if necessary. Antique church pews that are beautifully restored and varnished can add a solemn and joyous quality to any church service.

Newer church communities may wish to invest in high-quality used church pews with the intention of having them professionally restored. The picture of a church steeple as a symbol of everything holy and religious should also be accompanied by images of the peaceful interior of the church. Churches have no great need to advertise, but new participants should always be given a historical tour of the church and an understanding of the fact that Christianity was actually illegal in many parts of the world for centuries.

Religious individuals consistently report higher levels of happiness than their peers; regardless of their faith, the act of worship may have a positive effect on overall levels of well being and health. People who did not grow up going to church may find that as an adult, they may find a place in an active church community that volunteers regularly and that builds companionship. The picture of a church steeple, quiet and perfect, may well be replaced with a picture of hundreds of people united in the pursuit of prayer and friendship.