Pastor Mike at 'A heart for God' posted last January (5Jan2010) a piece titled, "Why I'm Showing Up Late for Church" He had recently 'tweeted' the link and I happened to catch it. - Good points he makes in his posting and I had to reply. Since I'm such a slow typist and have not been posting here as much as I should I decided to put my 'comment' on this blog as well as his. Sort of a two-fer.
Also managed to get a song rolling through my head (don't worry it didn't hurt) and just had to use it for the title of this posting. I hope it does not distract those of you that like to sing and dance from the message below... Print it out or send the link to your pastor. Better yet! Add to my ideas with a comment AND get this message to your pastor.
I have an advantage over many in our congregation due to the fact that I (as a lay member congregant not 'paid staff') have pre-service ministry duties. As a result my church time starts well ahead of the service time. Although one disadvantage is that When church starts I'm usually in 'Martha Mode' doing busy work and it sometimes takes a few minutes to switch to 'Mary Mode' where I'm ready to sit at His feet and listen.
I would encourage pastors to seek out those that are continually late, figure out their gifts, find/make helps ministries that would fit them and as Ephesians 4:11-13 suggests, put them to work (hopefully prior to church/services starting times).
From the pulpit I think pastors should also encourage people to get to church early not with events or for Bible studies or meetings with agendas and such but just for the opportunities to fellowship with friends.
Pre-service times can be a great opportunity for people to minister to one another with the unique gifts and fruit of the Spirit that God gives to each of us. Sharing these with one another in the 'safe' environment of the church can only help us when God calls us to use these same gifts and fruits outside of the church.
After all, the Lord does not call us to be 'self centered' but 'other centered'. Getting to church on time is just one of the ways we can fall in line with God's calling.
Some pastors may feel uncomfortable dealing with this issue. If so, that is great! Because it will give them an opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and at the same time get some of the congregants out of theirs...