(guest post from Jon Swanner)
If you are like us, you can become a little overwhelmed when you look at your calendars and to-do lists. Days covered up with work, sporting events, community functions, family obligations, and a whole host of other demands leaves little room for moments of fellowship with your church family. As often happens, the idea of adding another event, even a wonderful fellowship opportunity, can lead to frustration rather than refreshment. We all know that time together is vital to the health of our church body, but we also know that many of us struggle with consistently carving out the time needed to develop relationships with the entire Grace Covenant family.
What if I told you that you have an opportunity to fellowship with your GCC family weekly with very little change to your already established routine? All it takes is arriving at the library at 10:00 rather than at 10:30. This small adjustment to your weekly schedule can reap big benefits. Our family has grown to love arriving early for worship on Sunday mornings. Yes, it is can be difficult to arrive early, and no, we certainly aren’t there at 10:00 each week. However, we have made it our aim as a family to arrive early to spend time in fellowship with those who are there and to prepare our hearts for corporate worship.
By arriving at 10:00, we are able not only to catch up with friends, but to meet new visitors and read through the bulletin as well. Many first-time visitors leave quickly after the end of the service in order to avoid the awkward extremes of either having no one speak to them or of being overrun by a swarm of excited members. Knowing that it may be difficult to catch them before they leave, being there when they arrive provides an opportunity to introduce yourself and welcome them to GCC. Also, by reading through the hymns we will be singing that day as well as the confessions and Scripture passages that we will read, we are better prepared to engage in corporate worship. But there is an added benefit to arriving early that I think is often overlooked.
If you find yourself arriving at the library at 10:00, you will find many hands at work preparing for the worship service that morning. From the music team rehearsing, to the ushers setting up the foyer and meeting space, to the snacks and coffee being prepared, there are so many people at work behind the scenes that, and you may never know it if you only arrive for the start of the worship service. Seeing the faithful work of your fellow members is a great encouragement, and it grows in you an awareness that the work of the church is the work of all of us, not just a few. In addition to the appreciation for the work, there is also the opportunity to join in the work. There are always little things that still need to be done, and those who are already working would love the help.
All this to say, there is a tremendous blessing to arriving early for corporate worship. From the benefit to you and your family to the blessing of others by your presence and your labor, there are many reasons to make the effort to arrive early. So I would encourage you to make the effort over the next few weeks to arrive at 10:00 rather than at 10:30. I think you will agree that the small cost this will require of you will be overshadowed by the blessing you will receive. We’ll see you there.