Years ago I went to a church that was supposed to start their worship service at 10:30am. They didn’t officially start till 10:50am. On top of that their pastor decided to preach an extra 20 minutes and their music minister didn’t cut a single song out despite the service being so long. I ended up having to walk out towards the end because I had already made plans to meet my family at a specific time. I never went back to that church.
Now don’t get me wrong, we should never look at church as something we set a timer to. I think that stifles the spirit and compartmentalizes our everyday life from our spiritual life. But…we have to be a little realistic. If you don’t start and end on time you are going to create multiple issues at your church.
Issue #1: Children’s Ministry
If you’ve ever served in the children’s ministry, then you know how demanding it can be. If you start and end your service late it means that you are making your children’s ministry volunteers serve longer than they were scheduled for. Want to witness a grown man cry? Just have him watch a 2-year-old having a meltdown for 30 minutes longer than he was supposed to. You do this once you’ll upset a couple volunteers. You do this a few more times your Children’s Ministry Pastor will be showing up unexpectedly at your front door to intimidate you with a baseball bat because all their workers quit. It’s not fun.
Issue #2: Jobs
Monday to Friday jobs are slowly vanishing. Because of this, many people are starting to work alternative work schedules and have a very small time window. Think about people in the medical and service industries. If you’re fortunate enough to have them even make it into church on a Sunday…you need to respect their time. They may be planning on leaving as soon as the service is over in order to get to work. That extra 30 minutes could even mean the difference between whether or not they can have family time before going to their job.
Issue #3: Expectations
What matters to people is not the time something is scheduled to start; it’s when it actually starts. You say your service starts at 10:30 am but you never actually start till 10:45 am….guess what time your people will slowly begin showing up? Sure you may have some get there at the scheduled time because they’re naturally punctual, but your base will show up later. Your worship service should never be like that party where it’s fashionable to show up late. That’s the same party where people listen to terrible music by Nickelback. Friends don’t let friends listen to Nickelback.
Issue#4: People get mad
When a worship service is over it doesn’t mean you can just walk off stage directly to your car and go to Arby’s. It takes time to properly turn off equipment, put away stands, wrap up cables, change out the trash cans and clean up. Ending late can cause one of these two things to happen: People will rush and forget things or they will do their tasks and be mad about being late. It’s usually the latter that happens.
Why are they mad?
Because you just caused your bass player Chuck to get to the China Buffet at 12:30 instead of 12:00. Now he has waited on for a table for 30 minutes with a screaming toddler and a “hangry” pregnant wife. Oh yea…Chuck missed the first half of the Bears because of this too. Chuck forgives you once. Chuck forgives you twice. But on the third week, Chuck decides to take a break from serving. Fast forward 3 months later and Chuck is no longer going to church and is forced to go to brunch with his wife while being served by hipsters in the trendy part of town. But it doesn’t stop there.
Eventually, Chuck starting losing his sense of masculinity by going to brunch instead of watching the bears play after church. Because of this, his attitude deteriorated, causing Chuck to act out at work and losing his job. Though Chuck’s wife was understanding for a few months…the financial burden of raising 2 children on just her nurses’ salary became too much and she threatened Chuck with a divorce. But…this story has a happy ending.
In their time of struggle, Chuck and his wife went to another church that started and ended their service ON TIME. They got marital counseling and found new hope in their relationship with Christ at the center. Now they are more plugged into ministry than ever before and are planning on going to Haiti to build an orphanage.
Moral of the story:
START and END your worship service on time. Sure there are many other reasons you should do this. We didn’t even touch on how this affects churches with multiple services/campuses…but we think the story about Chuck is convincing enough.
Prepare For Worship. A resource provided to you by WorshipTrac.