Have you ever thought about how being part of a spiritual community – where you come together with others who share an underlying set of beliefs, values and practices and work together and root for one another – is a bit like being on a sports team and having the so-called “home-court” advantage?
Looking back on my own experience, I feel worship and fellowship have in fact helped me feel like I am on a big team surrounded by a cheering crowd, and it has resulted in a healthier, active life.
The truth behind this idea of the home-court advantage – which simply means the team (or individual athlete) is playing in its hometown – has actually been documented.
In one study out of the University of Delaware, professors and a graduate student found in their literature review of Olympics and the hosting country’s medal count that “ [C]ountries see an increase in their medal market share in the games after they are awarded host status, and then see another increase in medal market share in the games they host.”
For me, this home-court advantage in my spiritual life shows up most vividly when I think of myself as part of a team, the members of which are all tied to one divine Source, living in a universe governed by that same Source.
Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy expressed it this way:
“One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;..”
Abundant research supports the evidence that participation in a spiritual community, a team tied to that one divine Source, “…one infinite God…” does affect our health. And, most of the research indicates that it doesn’t matter which actual “religious” community it is. Here are just a few examples:
-Attending church is helpful in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and mental illness (National Institute of Healthcare Research in America, June 2000)
-Teens who attend church are 4 times less likely to commit suicide (Journal of Chronic Disease, 25)
-There is an additional life expectancy of 7 years (Demography, May 1999)
-People attending church are physically healthier and less depressed (American Medical News, 03/96)”
If a connection to the Divine produces these kind of results, it’s occurred to me that beyond my own faith community, I can even see the whole of humanity as one team, living in one universe, tied to that infinite source. In that light, no one could ever be outside of the home court advantage