Recently the “Harpers Index” included a statistic that more than caught my attention:
“Percentage by which young adults with high religious participation are more likely than their peers to become obese: 50 “
Yowsers. As someone in ministry to youth and young adults, I have to take some ownership of this statistic (full source here)…and call many of my readers to as well. Young people who are regularly involved in our churches are 50% more likely to become obese.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this. Anyone who’s been in ministry to young people have heard the argument in regards to a young person justifying alcohol consumption or tobacco use: “But over-eating can be unhealthy too!” In fact, all the way back to the 4th Century, God’s followers have acknowledged “Gluttony” as one of the primary origins of other sins.
But how do we approach “gluttony” in a culture that is gluttonous in itself?
One step at a time, for sure. It’s not about “redesigning” everything we do as a church. It’s not about canceling potlucks, pizza parties, and locking up the toddler snack cabinets (though we may change what’s in them). Much of it could be changed from the very foundations by churches taking a more holistic approach to ministry. Many churches are starting garden co-ops, and educating families on improving nutritional intake/activity levels (yay Kara!). Here’s a quick “high five” to our own Parish Nurse also, who regularly talks/educates on making healthy choices as important to our faith.
As youth pastors, how about throwing out that unlimited fountain soda machine, and getting a machine that you can put your own, stocked, limited supply that includes healthy choices? What if we made sandwiches instead of ordering pizza every time? (wow, that hurt to type)
I don’t like vegetables…or exercise a whole lot beyond dancing with my girls and running from teens in dodge ball. I’ve probably actually gathered an invisible list of adjectives unfitting for a man who is thankful for the body God has given. I’m not jumping on the “all natural, etc.” bandwagon, and I’m not too worried about how much corn syrup I take in….but I’m saying there’s gotta be somewhere healthier than living comfortably with the above statistic.
It may even be connected to our churches actually being a healthier Church. Pun intended.