Positive Benefits Churches Bring to the Communities
The American people have held to a long-standing heritage of viewing churches as a highly valued component in each community. The basic message of the local church has been the fabric for a moral and spiritual foundation, and has held the standard for the principals of truth. Churches, through the generations, have encouraged virtue and have been the spearhead for providing social services, community engagement, volunteer training, and civic responsibility. Yet, there are other benefits the local church provides that you may have never considered.
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (SBC)** has identified five significant ways churches add benefit to each community. Let me summarize them for you. First, churches provide direct economic benefits. The presence of churches in the local community will provide jobs through employment and supports a variety of local businesses through their patronage. The presence of churches helps families in deciding where they will establish their residence. Usually this is based on their faith, the services provided through the church, and the spirit of acceptance through the church’s membership.
Second, churches provide social benefits in the local community. Helping the poor, assisting the vulnerable, rebuilding marriage relationships, striving to reduce crime through moral and spiritual education, promoting charitable opportunities, and providing volunteerism are just a few of the social benefits churches provide through their various ministries. Many of these ministries are provided without cost, therefore benefiting the ongoing costs of the local community government as well.
Third, churches provide education and civic engagement. Ministries such as after school care, tutoring, and skill development assist local residents in taking a step forward to bettering themselves. Also, churches participate in civic events such as seasonal celebrations or special events. Our church annually participates in the downtown “trick or treat” event that reaches over 1000 children, as well as a major crafts day known as Oxfordfest. From providing candy for kids, handing out gift bags to adults, or sharing a smiling face, kind words of welcome, or eternal encouragement in the trials of life, our congregation has become a welcome “face” in our community.
Fourth, churches help decrease crime and deviance. Becoming involved in a church consistently decreases levels of crime and deviance in the local community. This benefit helps to bring social order, increase the likeliness that businesses will expand into the local community, and decrease government expenditures toward programs and institutions that are provided to reduce deviant activity.
Fifth, churches promote mental and physical health. Statistics share that the average “church goer” lives seven years longer than that of nonreligious individual; and, this increases to fourteen years among African-American individuals. Church attendance has also been shown to decrease alcohol abuse and drug use in the local community. In addition, church attendance has been shown to decrease stress, increase self-esteem, and give individuals hope and a greater sense of life purpose.
Churches have diverse positive impacts on communities. These attributes build values and standards that encourage stability in the community, as well as hope and joy for the individual. So, if you do not attend a local church, why not start this Sunday? You might be surprised by the benefits that wait for you and your family.
Dr. Stan Albright is a former National Director for Baptists Associations. He has served in ministry for 39 years, 20 with the North American Mission Board. He is currently the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Oxford, Alabama where his lives with his wife of 40 years, Joanie. Their family includes two grown children and four grandchildren.