Pastor, Can You See the Need for Wellness?
The manifestation of wellness or the lack thereof cannot be ignored. A lack of concern for wellness can be easily observed, both in and out of the body of Christ.1
Research compiled by the World Health Organization’s “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health” reveals startling indicators of human neglect. The results are summarized as follows: (1) Globally, there are more than one billion overweight adults, at least three hundred million of them obese; (2) obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer; and (3) the key causes are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.2
Citizens of the United States are not immune to this growing phenomenon as corroborated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The USDA recently noted:
Americans are increasingly overweight, with the number of obese adults and overweight children doubling between the late 1970s and early 2000s. Several studies of the health consequences of Americans’ weight gain indicate that health care costs and the number of premature deaths associated with obesity and overweight are high.3
Through their National Center for Health Statistics, the CDC reports that the past twenty years have shown a significant rise in U.S. adult obesity, with over thirty percent of those over twenty years of age being obese. This equates to over sixty million people and “increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions,” including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and coronary disease.4
With Christianity comprising a major portion of America’s culture, Christians are inevitably included in the research of the CDC. Statistics indicate that an estimated 224,437,959 residents of the United States identified themselves as “Christians” in 2004.5 (2006, www.adherents.com). This comprises over 77 percent of America, using the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau population prediction of 292,801,000.6
Southern Baptist Health
Numerically, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) with over 16 million members. A casual observation of their numerical prowess would indicate a large inclusion in the
number of Christians who are not faring well in self-care. In fact, a 1998 study by Purdue University concluded that “religious people are more likely to be overweight than nonreligious people,” and tipping the scales as the heaviest religious group is Southern Baptists, while Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists are less likely to be overweight.7
Correlation. Is there a connection been physical wellness and spiritual wellness? Surely, a lack of discipline in one area will have a spill-over result.
Cause. What moves someone to be intentionally lackadaisical in one area? Perhaps, the idea of compensating one's weakness with overpowering strength is the approach. Yet, this will only lead to over-load and breakage.
Care. Do you really care about your wellness and that of others? Proof of your answer is found in the tangibles, not the talking.
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, March 2010
1 Much of the information is taken from the author’s dissertation: The Relationship Between Selected Disciplines of Physical Wellness and Spiritual Wellness Among Southern Baptist Pastors, 2006.
2 World Health Organization. 2006. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Retrieved 14 January 2006 from www.who.org.
3 Amber Waves. 2006. Obesity Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences. Retrieved 24 January 2006 from www.ers.usda.gov.
4 Center for Disease Control. 2006. Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved 24 January 2006 from www.cdc.gov.
5 Christian Statistics: The Largest Christian Populations. 2006. Retrieved 24 January 2006 from www.adherents.com.
6 Statistical Abstract for the United States. 2006. Retrieved 24 January 2006 from www.census.gov.
7 Forbes, Beth. Firm Believers More Likely to be Flabby, Purdue study finds. Retrieved 16 September 2005 from www.news.uns.purdue.edu.