When we arrive at church portrays something about us. More importantly it reveals much about the importance we place on God and worshipping him.
Aside from conditioned and cultural predispositions towards punctuality, we also have personal circumstances that can interfere with our best intentions. Having a baby, small children, or many children can all impede our timely arrival. Needing to pick up someone, or something, on the way to church is a variable outside our control. Bad weather, road repairs, or car trouble can likewise delay our arrival.
While acknowledging that items outside our control, or only somewhat within our control, affect our arrival at church, let’s consider our normal practice:
Arrive Early: When we walk through the church doors early, it says we’re eager to worship God, and we enjoy Christian community. It shows respect for God and others. Depending on our personality we may spend this extra time in quiet contemplation, in prayer, or in conversation.
Arrive Right on Time: Some people breeze in right when the service starts. Though they view being late as rude, they see no reason to show up early. They don’t care to prepare themselves for worship. Does worship hold any meaning for them?
Alternatively, they might not value community. If their goal is to avoid human interaction, why go to church? Church should be about connecting with others and ministering to each other. If we don’t care about the people we attend church with, we might as well stay home and watch it on TV.
Arrive Late: Showing up late is inconsiderate of others and even more so of God. When habitual, it reveals we view our time as more important than theirs, esteeming ourselves over them. Arriving late distracts others who are worshiping, or trying to worship, disrespecting the God we supposedly came to honor. (Yes, there are folks with psychological issues or social anxieties who purposefully arrive late to avoid human interaction; I’ll leave that for them and their healthcare provider to address.)
Do we arrive at church with the expectation of experiencing community and in anticipation of worshiping God? Is church something we’re trying to squeeze into a busy schedule? Or is church merely an obligation to fulfill?
When we arrive hints at our answer.