Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone. – Mark 2:2-4
Would you like to…
- Improve your physical health
- Increase the odds that you’ll achieve your goals
- Add years to your life
- Deepen your faith
- Reduce your stress
- Move through challenges more effectively
What if I told you that scientific research proves that one habit can accomplish all of those things and more in your life? And it’s something that everyone can do. Interested? Want to know what it is?
Connect to a small group. That’s it.
Evolutionary biologists say that we evolved as pack animals. We survived through a relational web. Isolation meant death. And so, we are hard-wired for relationships. Sociologists call this survival behavior “clanning”. Clanning lets us say, “I’m part of a group and I’m proud of it. I belong.”
Babies who are not cuddled die. Isolated men are four times more likely to suffer a second heart attacked then their connected peers. Women with breast cancer who are in a support group live twice as long as those who are not. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest running and most comprehensive study of male health, has found that the greatest predictor of happiness in life is the quality of their relationships. Get the point?
In church circles “small group” often gets translated as “bible study”. Don’t get me wrong; bible studies can be great, but any group fits the bill. Walking groups. Biking groups. Book clubs. Golf foursomes. Knitting circles. Breakfast bunches. Supper clubs. My personal favorite is a group of guys who brew beer and smoke meat. Any group that fosters friendship creates positive impact in our lives.
The paralyzed man in today’s scripture reading needed a community of people to carry him to Jesus. And it changed everything. Our need for community may not seem quite as obvious, but it’s every bit as real.
So, with whom are you clanning?
Want to get connected into a small group? You’ll find more information here.
Want to learn a bit more about the amazing Harvard Study of Adult Development? Watch this awesome TedTalk.
Like to read? Here’s my favorite book on health in the second half of life, including a great perspective on the importance of being connected.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN