Three reasons to get to church on time
Arriving before the start of the service can be a huge blessing to others.
I must admit, I’m not naturally someone who runs on time. I don’t really like waking up early, and often if I’m in the middle of something I don’t feel like I want to be restrained by deadlines or appointments.
But I’ve recently become convicted of the many reasons to get to church on time, or even early! As young people (especially those of us with our own transport), it’s not really that hard – we don’t have kids to buckle up into the car, or a whole bunch of people to organise.
Getting to church on time is actually really important, and I think we need to be starting to get into this habit in our teenage years.
So without further ado, here are three reasons for you to get to church on time regularly:
1. To meet new people
A few weeks ago at the evening church service I attend, I looked out on the congregation ten minutes before the service was due to start. There in the chairs sat three groups of people who I’d never seen before, glancing through their service handouts. Unfortunately, there were very few regular churchgoers at church at that point (apart from those of us in the band), and so there was no one there talking to them. What a missed opportunity.
Let’s face it – new people are usually the ones who get to church early. And if you get to church even five minutes before the service starts, you can welcome them before the first song even begins.
Our churches need to be welcoming new people, whether they’re Christians visiting from another church, Christians who might be looking at coming to the church, or people who are yet to know Christ just coming along to see what it’s all about. It’s good to meet new people after the service over tea and coffee. But welcoming them – and having a good conversation with them – before the service even begins is going to make them feel so much more at home. It could be the difference that makes them want to come back next week!
2. To encourage the encouragers
I could be a bit biased here, as I’m usually playing in the band at church, but I think it’s true – getting to church on time shows those serving at the service that you appreciate what they do. If you’re there when the service begins, and sing heartily along to the music, listen when the bible is read and listen to what the service’s MC has put together, you are showing that you appreciate the work they are putting in to encourage the church.
Contrast this with regularly turning up fifteen or even twenty minutes into the service. As someone who often is serving up the front at the start of the service, I get the message that you don’t think what goes on at the start of the service with is that important. You don’t value the way the music team has rehearsed and are using their efforts to lead the congregation in praise to God. And you don’t value the work that the MC, the bible readers and the person praying have put into helping the congregation grow in and be encouraged in their faith. You just come to church to hear the sermon – or worse, for the refreshments afterwards!
Of course, the people serving up the front shouldn’t be doing it to impress people – they should be doing it for God. But as fellow brothers and sisters, we should be encouraging them as they encourage us, and appreciate what they do.
3. Because it shows and sets your priorities
Regularly turning up to church late might not seem that big a deal for you. But I think if we’re really honest, it’s just a symptom of the real problem – we don’t see church as important as it should be.
What is it that makes us late for church?
- Maybe we were asleep and just wanted a few more minutes in bed.
- Maybe we were halfway through a DVD and wanted to finish it off.
- Maybe we were hanging out with friends and didn’t want the conversations to end.
- Maybe we wanted to stop off at McDonald’s on the way to church, or…
- Maybe we were finishing off an assignment that we really should have done earlier.
See, when we do this regularly, we’re putting sleep and entertainment and friends and food and schoolwork before church.
And why is church so important? Because the bible says it is (and for good reasons)!
In Hebrews 10, the author urges his readers:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)
The same applies for us – we are to hold on to the hope we have in Jesus, and spur one another toward love and good deeds. We’re to keep on meeting together regularly at church – for that is how we encourage each other, as we look for the day when Jesus returns.
Church isn’t just a bunch of randoms meeting in a building each week. It’s not just a combination of readings and songs and talks. It’s the time when we encourage each other in our faith, reminding each other to hold onto the hope we have in Jesus, as we wait for him to return.