Pastor Larson’s Corner: 14 extra years

Pastor Larsons Corner

Dan Buettner has written a book entitled, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living like the World’s Healthiest People. During his worldwide adventures, Buettner discovered there were certain places where people lived much longer than average. In some of these places people regularly lived active and productive lives well into their 100s. In his book, Buettner shares the results of his research into what causes people to live so long.

As I read the lists of things these long-lived people had in common, I saw the familiar items of regular exercise and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Each item was listed along with the number of years doing these things typically added to someone’s life. Not far down the list I was surprised to see that attending worship services at least four times a month typically adds 14 years to a person’s life.

Is it possible that being an active part of a faith community can actually add years to our lives? Two other things on his list help explain why this happens. Buettner says that the most important factor for living a long life involves being part of a community. He says, “Who you hang out with trumps just about everything else when it comes to your health.” A second very important factor focuses on having meaning and purpose in life.

The church can be a place that meets both of these needs for people. The fellowship of believers can provide us with the community we need. Meanwhile, church communities encourage their members to get involved in meeting the needs of the world around them. Members find both purpose and meaning as they give of themselves to others and to work for good in the world. Perhaps Buettner’s findings will inspire many people to search out a faith community that can add both quality and quantity to their lives.

Pastor Larson’s Corner is written by Jerry Larson and appears weekly in the Norwegian American Weekly.

Pastor Jerry Larson retired to his cabin in Zimmerman, Minn., after 39 years in parish ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2011 he published a book entitled “Speaking the Word Freely: Writing with purpose, preaching with power.” Contact him at

This article originally appeared in the May 15, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.