The following is one part in a series of letters to Parents. All of it is meant with the most serious of intentions, and is not directed at any one parent. It is simply the writing of a man that has worked with children and their parents in a church setting for many years now.
Thank you so much for coming to church this weekend. It was a thrill to see you and your entire family worshipping with the rest of your church family. I know that you had to get up earlier than you might have preferred, fought to get kids ready in their “church clothes”, swigged down some coffee quickly, and rushed to be with us on Sunday. For that I am greatly appreciative!
However, I noticed something interesting this week. You didn’t arrive until 30 minutes after church started, and our services are only 60 minutes long. This can be problematic, which I’m sure you understand. Let me say that being late isn’t the issue, it’s the consistently being late that is a greater concern. We all have “those Sundays” when everything that could go wrong does, and you get to church much later than anticipated. I’m speaking more towards being late every…single…weekend. Please know that you are communicating the wrong message to your child, those that work with your child, and all the other children attending each weekend.
I can hear it now, “What are you talking about? This isn’t really any of your business!” And I agree, but please let me ask you to consider what message you might be sending by being late every weekend.
- First, you’re asking your kid to play major catch-up. // If the service is 60 minutes long, and you arrive to drop off the kid after the first 30 minutes, then they have probably already missed the following: Praise and Worship, Introduction of Bottom Line elements, Bible Story, and many times your arrival corresponds with the most intense and most serious time of the entire morning. That’s right, by being late your kid has missed everything the kids consider “the good stuff”. In Kid’s ministry things move fast, and we put a premium on quickly moving from one thing to the next. We’re always teaching our bottom line; but by missing the first 30 minutes your child will have difficulty grasping and internalizing the message.
- Second, it’s a distraction. // This is the one that I feel the worst about bothering you about. Apologies as I step on your well-intentioned toes, but here I go… When you arrive 30 minutes late to a 4 year old class, it means the teacher has to stop what they’re doing to check-in your kid. That might mean stopping the lesson right in the middle of a teaching time, when they’ve already worked hard to capture the gnat-like attention of a class of 4 year olds. It’s quite simply a major distraction to everyone already in the classroom. It’s also a major distraction to your own child. There are some major embarrassment and separation issues related to dropping off a child into an environment that isn’t prepped for drop-off and check-in time. It’s hard on your own child in a way that I know you would never intend.
- Third, it’s less than the best. // Everyone wants what’s best for your child. Everyone on my team at the church wants your child to have the most positive experience possible on a Sunday morning, and I have no doubt that you want the best as well. When your child arrives late to church, it’s quite simply giving them less than what is best. My team at the church has planned every minute of our time with your child to help illustrate God’s redemptive plan and His love for your children. Let us have as much of this time as possible!
So you may be asking, “What can I do to help this not be a problem?” That’s a great question, and here are some solutions.
- If you’re running late, then wait until the next service starts and give your kid the 100% experience at the upcoming later service. Of course, this only applies if your church has more than one service, and if you were trying to get to the early service.
- If you’re running late, apologize to the people trying to get your child situated into the environment quickly. A kind word does wonders for a teacher that has to deal with distraction you’ve created. The fact is that being late happens to all of us, but recognize the burden it is on those leading the classrooms. Just apologize, and act like it matters.
- If you’re running late, then promise yourself and your family that this will be the last time. Work hard to be on-time, if for no other reason that because it’s best for your kids. That’s reason enough isn’t it?
Thanks for bringing your kids to us each weekend, and know that we love, love, love having them with us. It’s a thrill to minister to all the different parts of your family, and you are to be commended for the intentional effort you make every week to worship as a family.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Children’s Pastor