If there’s one thing my years leading multiethnic churches have taught me is there’s no such thing as CPT when it comes to getting to church on time (Yeah, if you don’t know what that is, ask your chocolate friend). Whites struggle with it. So do blacks. Asians. Hispanics. Everybody. No ethnicity has a monopoly on tardiness and the House of God. Recently, one agitated, seasoned saint in my church begged me to rebuke the people for their lateness right before I got up to preach. Being the new guy, I passed…for now. I want to begin my ministry on a note of exhortation and not rebuke, but the day will come (Whom am I kidding—the days will come), when I will need to lovingly remind God’s people to do the counter-cultural thing, and get to church in a timely manner.
Sure, you’re thinking, “Pretty self serving of a pastor to plead with people to show up on time to ‘his thing’,” but actually, it’s not my thing, it’s God’s. And while I could provide a list as to why you should—rambling on about how it shows respect to the worship participants who have spent significant time in rehearsals and preparation, along with how we’ll show up to work and our kids’ activities on time—let me provide just one reason you should.
As a preacher, it’s momentarily flattering when people tell me they’re there for the Word. While I take this as a vote of confidence in the gifts God has given me, the longer I reflect on this statement, the more I see the selfishness involved. Just about every church has two major elements: worship and preaching. Worship is what we give to God—through our singing and giving (among other elements)—the Word is what God gives to us. Show me anyone who skips out on a major part of the worship experience to just get the Word, I’ll show you a person who has incarnated a consumer spirit that is wreaking havoc on the American church. What in essence a person is saying when they miss a major part of the worship, just to receive, is that church, and therefore God, is all about them, and what they can get out of it. Let’s call it what it is—nauseating narcissism (to be frank). Conversely, when we get there on time, and truly worship God by singing to Him, we go to war with the gravitational pull of consumerism, and tell God we’re not in it just for us.
Why should you get to church on time? Because you view church as not just a venue to receive, but to give as well. Spiritually mature believers don’t view God in utilitarian terms, but see Him as someone worthy to give their all to.
Let’s get to church on time.
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