10 Spiritual Resolutions for the New Year

Adapted from original post on 2/8/11

People often make resolutions regarding health and finances at the beginning of a new year to improve their life.  Consider comparing yourself to benchmarks from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey to find ways you might make changes in your spiritual life.

1)      Attend worship services.  Increase your frequency of attending or start attending.  Overall, 65% of attendees are in worship usually every week.   Studies suggest that religious people are happier and that it might be due to friendships with others in the congregation.

2)      Get more involved in group activities. Nearly half of worshipers are not regularly involved in any group activities in their congregation.  Three in ten are involved in fellowships, clubs, or other social groups; one in five attends Sunday school, church school, or Sabbath school; and one in five are involved in prayer, discussion, or Bible study groups.  When asked to compare their participation in activities at the church now to two years ago, half (51%) said they participate about the same amount.   The USCLS found that many congregations with high levels of worshiper involvement also have worshipers who are growing spiritually, are inviting others to worship, and share a strong vision for the congregation’s future.

3)     Become a leader.  Six in ten worshipers do not play a leadership role in the congregation.  Yet there are many ways to be involved (ushers, church school teachers, choir members, committees, etc.).  A pastor cannot do all the things a church needs to function.  How can you help?  

4)     Spend more time in private devotional acts (prayer, meditation, reading). Only half of all attendees spend time every day or most days in private devotional activities.   It is these activities that will help you grow in your faith.

5)     Grow in your faith.  Half of attendees have grown much in their faith over the last year (49%).  A third report growing mainly through activities of their congregation, 12% through their own private activities, and 6% with the help of other groups or congregations.

6)     Talk to others about your faith.  Invite friends to your congregation.  Nearly six in ten feel at ease talking about their faith and do so when it comes up.  Yet only four in ten have invited friends or relatives to their congregation in the past year.  Inviting others is an important first step
toward increasing the number of new people.  Most people attend a congregation for the first time because someone they know invited them.

7)      Get more involved in your congregation’s community service, social service, or advocacy groups.  Two-thirds of worshipers are not involved with such groups.  Strong congregations balance their attention inside their congregation and outside in the wider community.  This is the mission of many churches, if not all—to help others in need.  There are many benefits to working towards this mission.  Getting involved can help you learn or develop a new skill, find new interests or hobbies, experience the “real” world, meet new people, give you a sense of achievement and purpose, and make you feel good about giving back to your community.

8)     Make more friends in the congregation.  Two-thirds of worshipers have some close friends in the congregation.  Close friendships among churchgoers, rather than theology, seem to be the key to happiness among religious people, according to the findings of the Faith Matters Survey of U.S. adults.

9)     Pray.  Three-fourths of worshipers pray every day or most days for themselves or for their family.  Three-fourths pray more often than in the past.  Beyond connecting you to God, there are many proven benefits of prayer.  Prayer relieves stress, calms fears, reduces anxiety, stabilizes your moods, and gives you a feeling of well-being.

10)   Support your congregation financially.  Fewer than one in five worshipers are tithers, giving 10% of their income to the church.  Three in ten give between 5% and 10%, and about as many give less than 5% regularly.

Do any of these give you ideas for personal change?

Interested in learning how your congregation’s worshipers compare to these averages?  Give the U.S. Congregational Life Survey.  Learn how.