Are we a happy church?
Last month I wrote about “pressure balancing,” highlighting the challenges a small church like ours faces when it is required to face big projects. This month I want to emphasize the positive more by having us think about the “happiness” of the church. This was a theme at the choir retreat at Zephyr Point. They listened to the well known song by Pharrell Williams which has the following lines “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, because I’m happy, clap along if you know what happiness is to you.” The choir members and other guests learned that happiness had a lot to with gratitude. Happiness has always been an American preoccupation. The founding fathers made the “pursuit of happiness” a customary term by including it in the Constitution, citing it as an example of unalienable rights. Unfortunately we are not completely sure how they would have defined it exactly.
While mindfulness is seen as a way to attain happiness for some, therapist and author Russ Harris speaks of the “happiness trap” in his book of the same title. He urges his readers to stop focusing on “the pursuit of happiness” but to be concerned about living life in the moment. In other words, through mindfulness.
Happiness has a lot to do with longevity too. For instance there are studies that indicate that loneliness will take year of a person’s life. NPR recently aired a broadcast about the well known study of three groups with great longevity (people on an island near Okinawa, people in the mountains of Sardinia and Seventh Day Adventists in LA). A sense of community, a specific, healthy diet were important, but also the reality of “having something to get up for in the morning.”
The Bible does not really talk about happiness, but is interested in joy. Also, Jesus talks about “life abundantly,”(John 10:10) which is a spiritual, not a material state.
Now, if we take “happiness” out of the personal sphere to the sphere of our Parkview community, does Parkview make you “happy” and as a result are we a “happy” church? That is a question only you can answer, although above we have some of the indicators: 1. is our church something that gets you out of a bed on a Sunday morning rather than a chore? 2. Are you grateful for what the church provide you? 3. Can you appreciate it for what it is right now with its familiar as well as new faces rather than as something that needs fixing? Can you experience a kind of joy and wellbeing there? If the answer is yes for a majority of you, then perhaps Parkview is a happy church. Even the Founding Fathers might agree! See you in church and may God bless our ministry. Aart