An analysis of Protestant Christian leader perspectives: Church culture and health behaviors

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Authors: Jessica R Richards, Michael B Phillips, Bobbi Severt, and Darek Potter
Page Range: 23-30
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 16#1 (2024)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to describe the church culture based upon pastor’s perceptions and church health behaviors among several churches in the southeast United States. A purposeful sampling approach was utilized to recruit five participants in semi-structured interviews. The phenomenon of interest examined during the course of this study was the participants’ shared experience of pastoring, promoting health from a biblical perspective, and the Bible’s position on physical health in Protestant Christian churches. The results from this study showed the participants expressed an importance of physical health. They spoke of their faith and how they believed they were to be healthy, including having self-control and discipline. Pastors believed that the church setting is an appropriate place for teaching about physical health. Although pastors expressed a significant importance of physical health, rarely were pastors teaching or speaking on physical health behaviors. They reported holding value in physical health and felt responsible to be an example of health and to lead their flocks in that area. It was learned that Protestant Christian pastors recognized the importance of physical health as well as the guidelines given in the Bible on being physically healthy. We also learned that pastors are beginning to recognize the discrepancy in these guidelines and what is being taught and demonstrated within the church. From a public health standpoint, ensuring church leaders are teaching and demonstrating healthy behaviors has great potential to decrease obesity and chronic disease rates, specifically in rural areas where other resources are not available.

Keywords: Religiosity, spirituality, faith-based organizations, church culture, health behaviors

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