I recently saw this ad for a new worship service at a church:
I'm not sure if the service actually starts sometime around the 11 o'clock hour or if this is just a marketing ploy, but I believe this is a problem in our society today.
Last year, I was out to dinner with a group of friends for a birthday celebration. One person at the table works for a very large healthcare organization. He was telling us about a recent training session he did with one of the departments. He asked the personnel to answer this question: "If your shift begins at 8:00am. At what time would you be late for work?" He received a variety of answers - 8:15am, 8:30am, etc. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He exclaimed into the microphone, "8:01am is late!"
We live in a society where being on time has become relative. Time is fluid. This has crept into our churches as well. If you don't believe me, try this exercise: This Sunday, take a quick look around the sanctuary at the designated start time of the worship service to see how many people are there. Then, take another look 20 minutes later and see how many more people have arrived since the actual start of the service. (Now, of course, this means you have to show up on time).
Our worship services are times set aside for us to meet with God. Did you see that? It is a meeting with God. Who in their right mind would have a meeting with God scheduled and respond with, "I'll get there when I get there." But isn't that exactly what we are doing when we don't arrive on time for church? Sure, I understand that there are so many obstacles that get in our way on any given Sunday (overslept, kids not cooperating, etc.). But let me ask you this: if you had a meeting with your boss at work, would you show up late? If you had a meeting with the President of the United States, would you show up when you felt like it? How much more does God deserve for us to be on time. After all, he's always on time for you.
Helpful hint: Practice arriving ten minutes early and use the extra time to pray. Now, we've accomplished two things: we've arrived on time and we've spent some quality time with God.