Why Do People Show Up Late for Church?
The Timing of When People Arrive at Church Reflects Their Priorities
When my wife and I went on our grand adventure of visiting fifty-two churches in a year, we decided we’d try to arrive at church ten minutes early. In doing so we would avoid breezing in at the last-minute, and we would have time for possible connection with other people before the service. (Sometimes we had wonderful conversations and other times it was an awkward ordeal.)
Three Times When People Arrive at Church
This also gave us an opportunity to observe when other people arrived at church.
1. Arrive Early: For a few churches most everyone arrived early. They sat in respectful anticipation of what was to come, reverently waiting for the service to begin.
2. Arrive Right on Time: At other churches many people timed their arrival with the starting time of the church service, not a minute earlier and not a minute later. They arrived right on time. At some of these places, the people were in the facility early, trying to squeeze in some pre-church activity, but not yet seated in the church sanctuary. In other places, they rushed in at the last moment.
3 Arrive Late: Yet at too many churches, the starting time seemed more like a guideline. At these churches over half the congregation showed up after the service had started. They arrived late. Sometimes this was understandable since the service didn’t start on time either. The church had conditioned people to arrive late, because the service started late. However, even for those services that started on time, the practice of people arriving during the singing of the first, and even the second and third songs, alarmed me.
When Do You Arrive at Church?
Yes, I understand that sometimes things come up to keep us from getting to church on time. This is most pronounced for those with young children in tow. I remember those days well. And other times we may oversleep, not get around as fast as we’d like, or encounter delays on the drive to church. Yet these things should be rare, not common.Late arrivers at church disrespect God and distract other worshipers. Click To Tweet
For people who habitually arrive at church late, I wonder if it doesn’t reveal a bit of their heart. That God isn’t important enough for them to show up early in anticipation of what he’ll do. That church attendance is one more thing to squeeze into an already-too-busy schedule, so they can check it off there to do list.
Late arrivers at church disrespect God and distract other worshipers.
Arrive at church early, arrive at church in expectation, and arrive at church prepared to worship.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.