I love this story because it underscores another way the church is a place of healing.
Frome is a decent-sized town in Somerset, England that found the secret to reducing emergency hospital admissions. While other hospitals in the region had a 29% increase in emergency admissions, the admissions in Frome dropped 17%. Their medical secret?
Three years earlier, one of the doctors proposed treating patients as people and not simply a collection of symptoms or illnesses. They built relationships with the patients, and they recruited volunteers to build relationships. Why did this matter? When we’re sick, we don’t socialize as well. That leads to isolation and even loneliness—which only exacerbates the illness.
The Compassionate Frome project worked to get patients involved in community groups. This was more than just being around other people; it got them interacting. They formed choirs, lunch clubs, exercise groups, and special interest groups.
And people’s health improved.
The church is already built around the idea of community—or at least it should be. Your church can have the best preacher since Apollos. It can have a worship service that rivals anything Bach himself could offer (or Van Halen, depending on your style of worship). But if that’s all a church needs, I can sit home in my bathrobe and watch a service on the Internet.
The church is a community. We are a body. Therefore, it should be a place where we look forward to getting together. That’s authentic community.
Yeah, yeah, I know the correct answer is that I am supposed to look forward to attending a worship service because I’m going to worship Jesus. True, but let’s admit it, worship is a whole lot sweeter when we’re surrounded by people we love and enjoy.
The church—your church—could be a place of a similar medical breakthrough like Frome, England experienced. When we create a place of authentic joy in an authentic community …
- … we reduce the loneliness that plagues way too many people.
- … we keep the isolation at bay that contributes to illness
- … we bring joy to people’s lives, and “a cheerful heart is good medicine” (Prov. 17:22).
The joy of community—the joy of being with people who love Jesus—makes all the difference in the world. And it’s easy to have joy—authentic joy—when we love Jesus and we love the people He loves.
To read the full story of the project in Frome, click here.
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For a printable version: click here.
This post supports the study “Authentic Joy” in Bible Studies for Life.