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» The cost of starting late | Proclaim Blog

The cost of starting late

The cost of starting late

It was an honest mistake. You lost track of time. You were talking to someone. The drummer was in the bathroom. For whatever reason, you started a service late. No big deal.

Unless this isn’t this first time.

Churches that habitually start late create a problem that prompt churches rarely encounter: the lost 15 minutes.

When you start late, people come to expect it. They don’t mind running late themselves, because they know they won’t be missing anything. Before you know it, your service time will have shifted 15 minutes, inconveniencing everyone. If you ever need those 15 minutes, you’ll have a hard time getting them back.

If you’d like to break the cycle, your first step needs to be a commitment. Commit to start on time, every time—no exceptions. Communicate this to your worship team, and mean it. Then you’ll need to start front-loading services with important elements. Put the coolest, most interesting, and most important elements very first in the order of service. Know that most people are going to miss these things, but you need them to understand that the first 15 minutes of the service are important.

Have you ever fallen into the late-start rut? Did you escape? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Thank You, Somebody had to say it.

  2. Ian Carmichael says:

    'Ladies and gentlemen, just a reminder. We have an appointment with God at 10am. Let's be on time."

  3. Loren Sauers says:

    Another problem is starting early. Service times are a strange thing. I still feel rushed on Sunday morning even after so many years starting the service at 10:30a. I guess after growing up and most of my adulthood 11 am was just church time it's hard to break a cycle.

  4. Jacque Dunn says:

    To me it has always felt like disrespect and a casual "it doesn't matter" attitude, not only to the rest of the congregation but to the Father Himself. And that goes for staff and congregants

  5. Apostle James Williams says:

    Absolute truth here!

  6. Aland Coons says:

    Strangeness that the clock was invented by Catholic monks during the Middle Ages so they… could start on time! Also that Paul encouraged us not to arrive on time but (1 Corinthians 11:33) to "wait for one another." Starting on time is a good way to run a business while "waiting for one another" is good for relationship.

  7. Anton Brown says:

    Our church's weekly handout once said, "God is on time for you. Be on time for Him." Ouch.

  8. We're trying to escape from this now. Initially we were meeting at 10am and it happened… at one point we changed the time to 10:30 and supposedly we were going to start on time, but after a while we fell into the late-start rut again and we recommitted to starting on time about 6 weeks ago. It's hard because our church is small and so you miss each latecomer tremendously!

  9. Larry Van Dyk says:

    Oh Boy. I'm going to step out on thin ice, I can tell. I disagree. What is important here? "Put the important things first, so those who are late will miss them????" Does the sermon come off different, if it is given at 10:15 or 10:00. Might people who are focused on being on time miss part of the message because they are rushed? Can we plan time where a "spin down time" helps people relax by allowing them to do something that is Biblical; "fellowship together". Legalism is not what church is all about. I won't say never, but late to church is very rare for me. I don't even notice when church starts. Why? Because I feel God's presence in my church, and I see it in the people i am there with. I am worshiping from the time I get there to the time I leave. That means I am doing "what it is supposed to be all about" and that is important. I didn't see anywhere in the New Testament Jesus saying the meeting starts at 10 am. Don't be late. He also didn't say bring lunch, which tells me His speaking could run late too. Now that is a whole different story. Getting out of church late? Why would that be a problem…ever?

  10. Mary Lou Mackin Corriveau says:

    not in the Catholic church, if going to be late, we know the next Mass will be just as fruitful ,Glory to God, we will all have the same Scripture readings, no matter, The Liturgy of the Word, comes at the beginning of the Mass, the most important 10 min. until the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Great Amen

  11. Star Williams says:

    For me it is a lot about respect. I respect the time set for a service and expect that the congregation does, too. When we go to a dr., meet someone for dinner, or catch a plane, when we make the appointment, we expect we need to be there on time. What is different about church? I think it is easy to get lazy about it..oh, they're just going to be singing a song, we can be late, no big deal, etc. – but that is not an honoring or respectful viewpoint. Consider as well that the service was designed to meet the needs of the people and if they are not there they are the losers on it. Not only regarding the main service, but sunday school teachers have thoughtfully put together a morning of activities for children and latecomers can really throw it off. Honor and respect. Not legalism. thinking more highly of others than yourself…as a Worship Leader I always strive to honor the time I set for rehearsals, as well, so that my people can count on my word.

  12. Larry Van Dyk …gee I guess I agree with Larry–not that I think that, like many cultures, church should just start when we all show up. Obviously, that wouldn't work in our culture. I am a person who likes to show up early for everything, but the idea of church being about forcing people to conform to our time by putting all the "interesting" stuff at the beginning? Aren't we trying to conform people to our image and not to the image of Christ by being that kind of manipulative? I mean, awesome, if that works for you. For us (who have a very multicultural church and have learned that time is a western cultural idol–er, obsession) we've learned that, even though we essentially start on time every week, what we put at the beginning only gets seen by about half of the congregation. We removed that awful slogan–the God's on time one that Anton Brown mentioned–because it certainly doesn't reflect the God we serve. I hesitate to get upset about time issues because I think it's more about me than about God. I planned a party and you didn't show up on time! I doubt if God is particularly concerned.

  13. Larry Van Dyk …gee I guess I agree with Larry–not that I think that, like many cultures, church should just start when we all show up. Obviously, that wouldn't work in our culture. I am a person who likes to show up early for everything, but the idea of church being about forcing people to conform to our time by putting all the "interesting" stuff at the beginning? Aren't we trying to conform people to our image and not to the image of Christ by being that kind of manipulative? I mean, awesome, if that works for you. For us (who have a very multicultural church and have learned that time is a western cultural idol–er, obsession) we've learned that, even though we essentially start on time every week, what we put at the beginning only gets seen by about half of the congregation. We removed that awful slogan–the God's on time one that Anton Brown mentioned–because it certainly doesn't reflect the God we serve. I hesitate to get upset about time issues because I think it's more about me than about God. I planned a party and you didn't show up on time! I doubt if God is particularly concerned.

  14. Jacque Dunn says:

    Thank you, well said.

  15. You can start on time and not feel rushed. We make time and be on time for the things we think are important. I'm just saying

  16. Kevin Inmon says:

    We were in that last min rush every week until we started using the proclaim program. With the countdown and warm up it starts with or without you so we better be ready. Now all of our people know that service begins on time every time. THANK YOU PROCLAIM! God Bless

  17. John Oliver says:

    Amy Sorensen Brown
    As a pastor, time means a lot! It is what we prioritize that gets us into deliteriousness
    There are 1440 minuets in everyday! It is how we plan what we need t do in that time!
    As children we were trained to get ready on Saturday for Sunday! And since Sunday school is the most important part of Church, we need to give that some consideration.
    If we would take that advice and bring our CHILDREN and us to Sunday School, we would already be at Church, and well ready for the WORD at Morning Worship Services!
    Just like getting your family ready for MONDAY MORNING, School, Work, even Exercising we make plans for. All that is for the FLESH! But when it comes up to our souls? WHAT-EVER just should not do!!! "What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and then loose their souls? Take self off that throne and put JESUS back on top!
    "Seek ye first, the kingdom of God"

    Now how come we can't get to the HOUSE OF PRAYER ON TIME?

    How would you like it if God showed up for YOU the way we show up for HIM?

    Just a thought

  18. Tom Conner says:

    Being in a military chapel means we begin on time regardless! Often there are other services starting 30 minutes from the end of a previous service. If the service fails to begin on time, there is little question about it ending on time. I attribute beginning on time to the respect I have for those who show-up on time, and to the Lord as well. If Command and Staff is scheduled at 10:00 a.m., it begins at 10, not 10:05!

  19. Bruce Wyrick says:

    Bro I take that one step further if you are on time you are late

  20. Bill Nesbitt says:

    So, last thing this Sunday, make an announcement: "Fair warning — the sermon starts next Sunday when church starts (insert time here)." Put out an email during the week so absentees this Sunday don't miss the news about next Sunday. Sermon will be FIRST THING. Preachers, put your money where your mouth is. I've had this conversation I don't know how many times… how can we get people to show up on time? Preach the sermon first thing! Do it six weeks in a row! Then advise everybody that we may do it again at any random time, so be here! But the preachers all say, "Oh, no, we could never do that." (read: "Someone might miss my sermon!") I've been doing this (church music) long enough (mid-70's) to know the priority list for the "typical" church-goer. Music is expendable, sermon — NOT! But then, that starts to get into my whole issue with worship service segmentation, which is another (albeit related) subject.

  21. Martha Warnock Kyzer says:

    Amen, Bill. And how are those there on time supposed to be able to focus on their praise and worship if others are milling in and out of aisles greeting people and just visiting?

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