Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 14, 2017

Thought for the Week August 20, 2017

Last week I wrote about the dilemma most churches face with so many arriving late for church services. I trust that we are all still friends and can agree that this is something that we all would like to overcome. The thoughts last week were from a blog in which Samuel Mills shared some of his ideas why it is good to arrive on time which I thought were of value. This week I want to share some other reasons that might stir us to prioritize our time on the Lord’s day. This is from an article entitled: Punctuality for Church: 5 Reasons Why We Should Practice It, by Andrew McDonald on The Protestant Standard blog. Check it out and let me know what you think.

“While on some occasions there are genuine reasons why people cannot be punctual for church meetings, such as work commitments or family difficulties, in general it is not a practice that we should allow ourselves to fall into. Unforeseen circumstances may cause us to be late occasionally, but it should not be our habit to be late for church services. We should seek to be at the house of God early, for while it may be ‘better late than never’, it is even better to be never late. We do not like to be late for important appointments in our employment, or in our social life, and so it should also be the case when it comes to religious worship. We give 5 reasons why we should be punctual for the worship of the Lord.

“1. Punctuality allows us to prepare ourselves to worship God. With the hectic nature of modern life our minds are often preoccupied with many other things when we arrive at church; what we have just been doing, what we are planning to do afterwards. All these distract us from our purpose for being there, which is to worship God. If we have made the effort to arrive at church in good time, then we will have opportunity to settle our minds, gather our thoughts and focus on the Lord. Such preparation is necessary if we are to be properly nourished through the preaching of the word.

“2. Lateness belies a lax attitude to worshiping God. The church service is not just another event in our weekly schedule, but it is the worship of almighty God. The worship of God is a holy and solemn thing and we are commanded to ‘worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness‘. To arrive late, whenever suits our schedule, to casually wander in during the opening prayer, or part way through the second song is a sure sign that we have a low view of worshiping God. Conversely where we are punctual, it will be evidence of our humility and our recognition of what it is to worship a holy God.

”3. Lateness is hypocritical. This may seem to be a harsh statement, but in reality it is not. If the pastor were to make a habit of being late for the service, arriving after it had started, we would very soon become critical of his lateness. If the service was regularly delayed due to the pastor not being on time would we find it acceptable? How then can we not see the problem in ourselves doing the same thing? ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites‘ was the cry of the Savior seven times in the book of Matthew. Let it not be true of us in this area of our life.

“4. Punctuality encourages the pastor. To be at the services in good time indicates to the pastor that we have a desire to be under the sound of God’s word, and are eager to worship the Lord. A pastor desires his congregation to be in their pews before he is in his pulpit, not the other way around. To look upon a congregation waiting in anticipation will do the preacher good and encourage him that the people are hungry for the word of God.

“5. Punctuality sets a good example to the unsaved. What impression will it leave upon a visitor if most of the congregation are still arriving as the service commences? Certainly not a good one. The impression left by a congregation which is gathered together well before the service starts is vastly different. They will see a desire and a reverence in worshiping God and will be more encouraged to return than if someone has to assure them that ‘it’ll fill up soon, they all arrive at the last minute.’

”How can we be punctual for church? Services starting later will not help us, for if we normally arrive at 11:40 for an 11:30 service, moving it to 12:00 will only result in us arriving at 12:10. We must prepare for the service, plan to leave early, and practice the habit of punctuality.”

I especially like Mr. McDonald’s concern for the pastor. It is very encouraging to see brothers and sisters who are eager to gather together, expectant that God will show up, and early so they don’t miss anything. Being on time, as he mentioned, is a matter of planning. If I plan to be early then I will prepare in advance so that it becomes a habit. I would be interested to hear your thoughts about how we might help our congregation to be one of the few where most of us are on time most of the time. Just a thought.

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