Daily Cup of Wellness

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Parents are always looking for more ways to get their children involved with their faith. A recent study by Barna, however, has found that the key to becoming a more spiritually active household is to become a more active household overall. The key, however, is that activity needs to take place together. It is not enough for people to scatter to a variety of different hobbies and activities. The key to an active spiritual life seems to be deliberately choosing to do things with others. As Barna put it in their report, “good fun, good work and good faith seem to go hand in hand, indicating spiritual growth is yet another way of being present, interested and engaged in the lives of those [in a person’s life]…[so] the more housemates engage in general activity, the more they engage in spiritual activity.”

In their study, Barna divided households into four categories: vibrant, devotional, hospitable and dormant. Vibrant households had the greatest spirituality, but they were also exceptionally devoted to finding time for “togetherness and play. They have meaningful, fun, quality time with [their loved ones.]” Vibrant households made it a point to spend time together every day. The vast majority of vibrant households shared meals on a daily basis, and over 75 percent of them made it a point to eat dinner together on a daily basis.

“One of the more surprising and encouraging findings from this study,” said Brooke Hempell, Barna’s senior vice president of research, “is that any sort of interaction—including just having fun—is correlated to faith formation. In other words, forming deeper bonds with our household members helps us grow our faith! The importance of fostering intimacy, sharing rituals and having fun with household members, as well as friends and other non-family guests who become a part of one’s extended household, cannot be overstated.”

Fostering such intimacy also helps alleviate the crippling loneliness that has infected so many people in the digital age. Churches are thus in the unique position to be able to attack loneliness on two fronts. Faith formation goes hand in hand with emotional intimacy, a known cure for loneliness, and strong faith has been shown to help stave off loneliness as well. It becomes an upward spiral. An emphasis on relationships and fun can also help churches break free of their reputation for being solemn and stuffy.

“Ministries have a duty to help their members understand and experience all of life as worship,” said Hempell, “as well as to emphasize closeness, collaboration and fun as signs of life in the church. Churches that foster healthy spiritual growth should encourage Christians not only to know God but also to know their brothers and sisters in Christ, especially through gathering together outside the walls of the church. Our research finds that faith formation is best aided not just by services and sermons but by play and friendship as well.”

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