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BeckyPink
SeniorProject

Mr.Scanlan
12Dec.2014
WhyReligionisImportant
Howactivearepeopleinachurchcommunity?Howoftendotheyattendmass?Has
anyoneevernoticedthatchurchesarealmostentirelyfilledonholidayslikeEasterand
Christmasratherthanyearround?Thereareapproximatelyonehundredandfiftyonemillion
ChristiansintheUnitedStates.AboutsixtymillionofthoseareCatholics(Koenig15).A
majorityofChristiansbelieveinthefollowing:theHolyTrinity,VirginMary,andGod(20).
Thesethreefiguresarewhatmostpeoplelookuptowhentheyareinneedofaprayer(20).
SomepeoplereadtheBible.Also,differentchurchesbelievedifferentthingsandhavedifferent
rules.Nexttimeinchurch,lookaroundandnoticetheagesofthedifferentpeople.Thereare
moreolderandmiddleagedpeoplethanyoungerones.Whyisthat?Therearemanydifferent
opportunitiesthatyoungpeoplecanparticipateinwithintheparish.Arethereanywaysthat
peoplecanimprovetheiractionsandbecomealeadertoinspireotherstobecomeinvolved?
TherearemoreSouthernerswhoattendchurchonadailyorweeklybasisthananywhereelsein
theUnitedStates.Stopandthinkabouthowthechurchcanhelpaperson.Lookatapersons
prayerlife,mentalhealth,andeverydayactions.Thechurchhelpsstrengthenallofthese.Itgives
peopleapurposeinlife.Thechurchisasmallpieceofwhatdefinesaperson.Studieshave
shownthatpeoplewhoaresickorarestrugglingwithsomethingintheirliveslooktowardGod
forhelp.ThemajorityofpeopleintheUnitedStatesbeliveinsometypeofaGod.Manypeople

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wouldfinditverydifficultiftheyhadtolivetheirlifewithoutreligionandspirituality.Beinga
memberofaparishandtakingpartinreligiousbasedactivitiesbringspeopletogetherand
createsastrongconnectionwithintheparishandthebroadercommunity.
Whyisbeinganactiveparishmemberimportant?Peoplewhoattendworshipserviceson
ahigherleveltendtohavefriendshipsthatlastalifetime.Womenandyoungerchildrenaremore
likelytomakelifelongfriendships(Lunn).Adolescenceisatimetodevelopfriendshipsand
buildrelationships.Olderpeopletendtohavemademorefriendshipsthroughouttheirlifetime
wheninvolvedinchurch,butitisnottruethatolderpeoplehavemorefriendsthanyounger
ones.Sixtytoninetypercentofpeoplejoinedtheirparishbecausetheywerewelcomed.Joining
aparishgivespeoplethechancetomakefriendshipsandtheyfeelbetterphysically,mentally,
andemotionally.Thechurchacceptseveryone.Peoplelookforfriendshipandcompanionshipin
churchcommunities(Campbell).TheycanalwayslooktoGodasafriend,guide,andmodel
(NationalDirectory197).
Ifpeoplewenttomassorattendedachurchserviceonaregularbasiswhentheywere
younger,theywouldbemorelikelytogoasadults.Eightypercentofpeopleintheirtwenties
saidtheirfaithisveryimportantintheirlives(Grossman).Fortythreepercentofchildrenaccept
JesusastheirSaviorbeforeagethirteen(Grossman).Ifpeoplearegoingtodropoutofchurch
theywilldosoaroundagesixteen(Grossman).Infact,sixteenpercentofadultswhodonot
attendaworshipservicedescribereligionasveryimportantintheirlives(Hagelin).Sixty
percentofthosehadmadeapersonalcommitmenttoChristbeforetheyturnedeighteen
(Grossman).Onethirdofpeoplewhoaremorespiritualthantheyarereligious,neverprayalone,
andtwothirdsofthemrarelyparticipateinworshipservices(Campbell).

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Howdoesreligionstrengthenapersonsvalues?MorepeopleturntoGodwhenthetimes
arerough.Theyknowheistheiranchortowardrecovery.PeoplewhobelieveinprayerandGod
tendtohealfasterandaremoreapttolivelongerifreligionisanimportantpartoftheirlives
(Koenig65).Sickandstressedpeoplehealfasterwithasupportivecommunity(Koenig75).
Prayersenhancehope.Peoplewhoattendchurchandforgiveothersfeelbetterspiritually,and
believetheywillgotoheaven(78).ReligiousinvolvementmakespeoplefeelblessedbyGod.
Godloveseveryoneandgivespeopleapaththathefeelsissuitableforeachindividual.
Since1999,churcheshavehadsmallnumbersinyouthinvolvement(Grossman).Some
peopleblametheparentsfornottakingtheirchild(ren)withthemtomassorachurchservice.
OtherssaytalkingtoGodmaybelosingouttoFacebookandothersocialmedianetworkssuch
asTwitterandInstagram(Grossman).Oneofthereasonspeopledonotattendworshipgroupsis
becausetheydidnotattendthemwhentheywerechildren.Kidswillnotforcethemselvestogo
tochurch.Theyclaimtheydonothavethetime.Theysaytheyaretoobusywithschool,sports,
andclubs.Peersplayabigroleintheyouthattendingchurch.Manystudentsorteenagerssayit
isnotapriority.Somepeoplearenotsatisfiedwiththechurchtheyareenrolledin.Theywill
stopattendingthatparishandjoinanotherone.Feelings,acts,andexperiencesleadtobeliefs,
knowledge,andenthusiasminreligion.Parentswholiveouttheirfaithindailylifeandpraywith
theirchildrenhelpleadtheirkidstowardGod(Hagelin).
However,peerscanalsoplayapartingettingyoungeradultstoattendworshipservices.
TeenagersclaimthatotherpeopletheiragedonotgosowhyshouldI?Or,Idonotwanttobe
portrayedasuncool.Adultsandkidssaythatitisnotthattheydonotlikelisteningtoscripture
readings,orsittinginapewforanhourtoattendSundayservice,rather,theyjustdonotlike

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churchingeneral.Theythinkthatotheryoungkidsandadultswilltaketheirplaceinthepew.
But,churchesneedthesupportfromyouth.Adolescentsshouldknowthatfaithinspiresand
enlightenstheheart,minds,andattitudes,ofteenagers.Theyshouldbeencouragedtoparticipate
inSundayEucharist,andthepracticeofChristianliving(NationalDirectory200).Childrenand
teenswholackreligiousconnectionswillbethespirituallyindifferentadultsoftomorrow
(Hagelin).Adolescenceisatimetolearnhowtoprayvocalandliturgicalprayers,readupon
sacredtexts,andinviteothersintothechurch(NationalDirectory200).Youngadultscangive
theirfaith,hope,anddesiretoserve,spiritualhunger,vitality,optimism,idealism,talents,and
skillstothechurchandtothoseinneed(NationalDirectory195).
Manyteenagersareactivelyinvolvedwiththeirchurch.Infact,twentyfivepercentof
teensparticipateinyouthgroupsandsummerchurchcamps(Grossman).Theytakepartin
SundayschoolandareenrolledinCatholichighschoolsandcolleges.Somegoonretreats.A
churchcaninfluencesocietybyprovidinganeducationforchildren(Vaughan).Youth
involvementexposesyoungpeopletosacredmomentssuchasfeelingGodsloveandpresence.
Somestudentstakepartinmissiontrips.Missiontripworkdealswithhelpingcommunities,
workingwithchildren,ordeliveringfoodandclothes(Kaplan).Missionworkcanbefoundall
throughouttheUnitedStatesandtheworld.AccordingtoEvaTrout,Ithinkthatwhenyoung
peopleseeotheryoungpeoplegoonthesetripsandsayhowpowerfulthesetripsare,itgives
themadesiretogo.Theyseehopeandpovertyinthesameplace.Ittakesthemoutoftheirworld
andputstheminanotherone.Theyouthispassionate.Theyrewillingtogoplacesanddothings
thatotherpeoplewouldnotdo.(Kaplan).Teenagerswhogotochurchonadailybasis
appreciatelifebetterandlivemorefaithfullythroughoutdailylife(NationalDirectory198).

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Somepeoplesaythatthechurchneedstorelatetoyouthonabetterlevel.Catechism,a
religiousinstruction,shouldencourageteenagerstobecomeholypeople,Christiandisciples,and
servantleaders(NationalDirectory198).Everyoneshouldengageyoungpeopletobecome
involvedbecauseitisimportantforeverybodytogrowinfaithandstrengthentheirrelationship
withGod(Hagelin).Thechurchcommunityneedsthegiftsfromadolescentstohelpitstay
strong.(Hagelin).Youngpeoplearelikelytoadoptthefaithoftheirparents.Adolescentslearnto
liveouttheChristianfaithbyobservingthegoodexampleofotherswhomtheyadmireandtrust
(NationalDirectory199).Parents,pastors,catechists,andteachersshouldprovidethebest
examplesandbewillingtobecomepersonallyinvolvedwiththem(NationalDirectory200).I
thinkyoungpeoplearewantingachurchthatisverywelcomingoftheirgifts,saysJaneSwift
(Cross).
Manyparisheshavedifferentcommitteesthatpeoplecantakepartin.Whetherthatis
liturgical,religiouseducation,pastoral,stewardship,orthemusiccommittee,anyhelpinghandis
accepted.Peoplecanbecomeleadersandjointhechoirorbecomealectororgreeter.Theycan
getoutoftheircomfortzoneanddothesethings.Theycannotbeafraidofdoingthingsthey
mightnotnormallydo.Itmaynotfeelcomfortableatfirst,butpeoplewillcometoseethatit
makesadifferenceinshapingtheirentirebeing.Peoplebecomeinspiredbythelittlethingsin
life.Churchcommunitiesarelookingfortheleadershipformationofyoungpeopletotakethat
step,andbecomeinvolved.Religioncanfulfillapersonsheart,mind,andsoul.Parishesneed
parishionerstoserveasambassadorsfornewmemberslookingtojoinachurch(Koenig189).
DannDennystates,Ifthechurchdoesnotbegintobetterunderstandyoungpeople,andhowto
betterfastertheirspiritualandmoraldevelopment,societywilllosethenextgenerationof

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donorsandvolunteerworkers(Denny).Theministryofcatechesishelpsdevelopadeeper
relationshipwithChrist,theChristiancommunity,andmayhelpdefineapersonstruefaith
(NationalDirectory197).
Sohowdoesreligiongivepeopleapurpose?Religioncanbeverymotivational,giving
peopleselfdetermination,control,andafeelingofinnerpeace.Itletspeoplefindhopeandfaith
withinthemselves.Volunteeringandreligiousinvolvementkeeppeopleoptimistic,andalso
givesthemapositiveoutlookonlife.Itcanbeconsideredasocialouting,forsome.Peoplemay
feelselfworthanddrive,maybeevenamoralcompass.Itcouldmakethemfeelhappier,loved,
respected,andgratuitous.Theymightbemorelikelytoforgivethemselvesandothersifthey
havedonesomethingwrong(Koenig115).Religionmayputpeopleingoodspiritsandgive
themadifferentperspectiveonlife(ChurchCreatesSpace).Religionislinkedtopsychology,
sociology,andhealing(Koenig115).
Howdoesreligionimprovebehavior?Religiousinvolvementhelpspreventsuicide,
stress,anddepression(Lunn).Believinginahigherbeingcanhelppeoplecopewhentheyhavea
bigweightontheirshoulders.Copingwithguiltandfearmayleadtostress.However,ifaperson
hasareligionbasedbackground,thenfearandguiltmayturntohope(Koenig118).Religious
involvementprovidesfellowshipservicesthatdealwithpeoplewhohavementalproblems.A
majorityofCatholicswhodonotgotochurchonaregularbasis,aremorelikelytobedepressed
becausetheydonotfindhopeorseeselfworthwithinthemselves(122).Alcoholanddrugusers
arelesslikelytoattendworshipservices,alongwithrepeatsinners.Apersonshealthorphysical
andmentaldisabilitycandeterminehowoftentheyattendchurch.But,religiouscommitment
caninfluencegoodbehaviors.Amajorityofreligiousactivitiesendinpositiveoutcomes.

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Worshipservicescangivepositiveemotionstothecongregation.Itcanleavepeoplethinking
aboutpositivereligiousthoughts.Someonespersonalitycanchangejustbyattendingmass.
Spiritualandreligiouspractices,goals,andbeliefsmaybeinfluencedbymotivationand
behavior.Thesepracticesmayleaveapositiveimpactwithcoping(134).Apositivewaytocope
caninvolveprayingtoGodandwithyourcongregation,lookingforsupportthroughthechurch
andcommunity,andforgivingyourselfandothers(140).
Peopleneedtoknowthattheycanlookforsupportinchurches.Manychurcheshave
supportgroupsthatpeoplecangotoiftheyneedtoseekhelp.Theentirepopulationshouldrely
onreligiontohelpsociety(Koenig31).Ifweignorereligion,peoplesliveswillremain
incomplete(31).Nonetheless,somepeopletakereligionandGodforgranted(40).Adultsand
adolescentsdonotlikethewaythechurchisportrayedinpresentday.Theycallitaforeign
language,inwhichtheydonotunderstandtheculturesandtraditionsofChristianity.
Justattendingchurcheveryweekenddoesnotmakeapersonholy.ReverendUchtdorf
says,Often,theanswertoourprayerdoesnotcomewhilewereonourkneesbutwhilewere
onourfeetservingtheLordandservingthosearoundus(Koenig205).Peopleneedtorealize
thattheycanprayduringthegoodtimesoflifetoo,notjustwhentheyneedhelp.Hopedoesnot
necessarilyneedtobelinkedwithreligion.Manypeoplefindhopethroughotherthingsrather
thanjustthechurch.Religionisnotjustlinkedtochurch.Itisnotjustaboutbiblicalstories,
recitingprayers,andreceivingtheEucharist.Rather,itissomeonesfaith.Itisbeliefwithout
evidence.Faithdealswithtrustingtheheart,knowingthemind,anddoingtheirwill(National
Directory194).Parishioners,arethebuildingblocksofthechurch.Everyoneneedstosupport
theparishessothatthey,thechurchcommunity,canhelpotherswhenneeded.

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Womenarealsoneededandwelcomedinchurchcommunities.Eventhoughmenare
moredominantinliturgicalministries,suchasbeingpreachers,readers,andushers,ithasbeen
proventhatwomenaremorereligiousthanmen.Theylookuptootherwomenreligiousfigures
suchasMotherTheresa.(Koenig63).Womenaremorelikelytobereligiousbecausetheyare
moreopentosharingtheirproblemstoothers.Theyaremoreassertive,decisive,compassionate,
hardworking,andambitious.(65).Womenaremorelikelytomakefriendshipsthroughthe
churchaswell(67).Menaremorelikelytohavenoreligiousaffiliation.(70).Bothmenand
womenareneededtobringvitalityandcompetitionofcommunitylifetoachurch(National
Directory213).
Everypersonhasadifferentaspectonreligion.SomepeopleseekGodeveryday,allday
whereassomepeoplethinkthatthereareotherimportantthingsinlifebesidereligion.Others
onlyseekGodwhentheymakeimportantdecisions,areintrouble,haveaseriousillness,orafter
atraumaticlifeexperience(Koenig153).Somepeoplethinkthatitisokaytonotbelieveaslong
astheyleadagoodmorallife.Allofthesedifferentbeliefsarewhatmakeupthedifferent
religionsaroundtheworld.Differenttypesofreligionsinclude:Catholicism,Judaism,Jehovahs
Witness,Baptist,andmanymore.Itisokaytohavedifferentbeliefsbecauseitiswhatdefines
eachindividual(154).
Nowdoyouseehowandwhyreligionisimportantinpeopleslivesandthatitcleanses
themind,refreshesthesoul,andputshappinessinyourlife?Notonlyisitimportantforadultsto
takepartandattendworshipservices,butyouthmembers,too.ItcanleadpeopleclosertoGod
andhelpthemfindoutwhatfaithtrulymeanstothem.Gettinginvolvedwithreligiousbased
activitiesandinteractingwiththecommunityinspiresotherpeopleandcanleavealasting

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impressiononthem,evenbydoingasmallactofkindness.Takingthetimeanddevotingoneself
toaparishcanmakethemabetterperson,andshowsothershowmuchtheycareabouttheirfaith
andcommunity.Thenexttimeapersonisinchurch,thinkabouthowitishelpingothersand
yourselfinavarietyofways.