I have been slowly starting to use a Google calendar over the past few months (although I still prefer a paper diary). As a result, I regularly receive reminders in my inbox, telling me it’s time to set off for the next event, usually long after I have already gone. So, for example, I get a reminder every Sunday morning, telling me that at 10.57 it’s time to head off to St Michael’s (why it doesn’t tell me to get to St Barnabas, I haven’t worked out yet). The problems with this e-mail are that (a) assumes I am driving there (b) I can park outside and (c) I actually would want to turn up exactly at 11.00am.
In fact there is every reason to turn up a lot earlier than the given start time of any service. To begin with, it means you don’t arrive in a rush and perhaps disturb other people. It also encourages the person at the front that there will be a congregation today! A full church ten minutes beforehand does wonders for the preacher’s confidence.
But even more importantly than that, time before the service gives you time to focus on why you are there, to spend time in prayer. Maybe prayer on your own, maybe prayer with someone else. Prayer gives us a sense of perspective and enables us to receive better from the worship that day.
And the chances are, that when you arrive early, you may well meet someone who has come that day with a particular need. If that’s the case, spend some time in prayer with them before the service, and/or arrange to meet with them during the week. Or else, it might be there is a churchwarden looking for someone to fill in for a particular task that needs doing. Many a ministry has started from someone volunteering in a time of need!
To put it simply, our fellowship does not start at the beginning of the service. It begins the moment we walk through the door, and an extra ten minutes can make all the difference.
So if you are getting reminders from Google, please take them with a proverbial pinch of salt. If you’re still at home by the time you receive them, then you are setting off too late.
Looking forward to seeing you before 11.00am on Sunday!