LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – It's not just about making it to church -- it's the relationships you build through your faith.
A new study from the American Sociological Review reveals that attending religious services regularly and having close friends in the Congregation can lead to a happier, more satisfying life.
"Attending church doesn't necessarily bring you contentment. It's being involved in other peoples' lives," said Mark Wilke, Pastor at Carpenter's Way Baptist Church, who describes church as an authentic community, one that people long for.
"God created us to walk through and journey through life with a few close comrades in arms, people that we can depend on whether we sin or really blow it or whether we're doing great. They rejoice with us when we rejoice and they hurt with us when we're hurting," said Wilke.
He says attending church isn't enough.
Findings show people who attend religious services every week and have three to five close friends are extremely satisfied.
Wilke says these friends should be people you trust.
"It isn't always a positive interaction," said Wilke. "Sometimes it's confrontation. It is often encouragement. It's love, its acceptance. It is not however being preached at or getting together to agree on a docturnal statement. It's fellowship."
Churchgoers agree, church is not a program but people.
"I've got family. I have people I can count on. I have people that I hope can count on me," said Carol McMinimy.
"We sit here. We worship. We laugh. We talk. It's not just something we've been programmed to do," said Jeb Stringer.
It's a place where the broken come together, to build each other back up through the word of God.
"I hear a lot, I don't go to church because it's full of hypocrites. That's exactly why we go, because we do struggle with life," said Wilke.
The study also found those who had no close friends at church, and those who worship in private were no happier than those who never go to church.
The study included Christians, Jews, and Mormons.