During our recent trip to the Holy Land, we had an amazing opportunity to worship inside a beautiful cathedral with a group of Chinese believers. I commented to my friend “they all look so fit.” He replied, “They have to be.” All over the world, it is costing more and more to identify yourself as a Christ follower. In some places, it may cost you everything, including your freedom. This is one more reason for the Church to be healthy, to be strong, to be ready. How fit is your church?
George Fitchett, a researcher for Rush University, recently found that people who attend church or participate in some sort of weekly religious service are 62% more likely to be obese than those who do not attend church.
An article in Medical Daily reports a study from Baylor University College of Arts and Sciences, where it was found more than one-third of the clergy in the United States are struggling with obesity.
What is happening with the health of the church is not good news. The church should be leading the way in health and fitness. The health of the Church and its leadership is having an impact on the mission of spreading the Gospel. Missionaries are coming home from the mission field unable to return because of health problems. Parents are too tired to raise their kids and too tired to be married. The fields are ripe for the harvest, but the workers are few and very exhausted.
I am not into fat shaming, and neither is our God. There’s no suggestion in the scriptures that God will love us better if we are thin. But the fact is, our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and the concept of stewardship is certainly biblical. God loves us unconditionally. Because of His great love for us, it should matter how we use and take care of the bodies God has given us.
What can we do?
- Live a balanced life by embracing body fitness as a spiritual discipline. Exercising and eating right are ways to present your body to God daily, as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1.
- Encourage one another – find a friend, join a FP4H group. Studies show that people who are closely connected to a group for support, have a much higher success rate than those who are not.
- Let us help. FP4H can help lead your church and community in corporate wellness by:
- Helping your church start a FP4H group,
- Providing excellent Bible study materials for group study.
- Coming to your church and leading a one-day wellness event.
I don’t know all of the answers for the health of the Church but this I do know: Jesus Christ can transform a life, body, soul, mind, and spirit. How does He do it? Because of who He is! He is the Light of the World; the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Good Shepherd, the Gate, The True Vine, the Way, Truth, and the Resurrection and the Life! He can bring new life to an unhealthy Church and an unhealthy church member. Let us help, rise up O’ Church and Honor Thy Health.
Vicki is the First Place 4 Health National Director, an American Council on Exercise, Certified Fitness Instructor, Certified Life Coach and the Wellness Coordinator for her church in Edisto Beach, SC. Vicki is the author of Don’t Quit Get Fit and Wellness Journey of a Lifetime. She has led a successful First Place 4 Health ministry in her church for twenty years.