I suggest church members come to their Sunday gathering at least 15 minutes early. I would make it more than a suggestion for church leaders (pastor-elders and deacons/deaconesses). There are several reasons why one should be enthusiastic and resolved to come to the Sunday gathering early.
1. You have considered how to stir some others to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25) and you are so excited you can’t wait to get started. This is the text on why we gather weekly as a church, “And let us be consider one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” You come to encourage each other as the judgment/deliverance day of Jesus Christ’s second coming gets closer. The verse commands us to “consider one another.” So if you’ve been praying, thinking, and considering who God is telling you promote love and good works in and who to encourage, and you’re thinking about how you will do it, then you will be excited to accomplish what you’ve considered. So come early, eager and enthusiastic to engage people God has prepared you to engage!
2. The beginning of the gathering, namely the greeting, announcements, call to worship, and prayer of praise are not useless components of the gathering. God speaks through his Word. The call to worship is God speaking to us. The verse we read that morning sets our hearts to seek him and if you don’t hear it you lose out on that word from God calling you with the rest of the congregation to enjoy him. The prayer of praise is our response to that Word and sets our hearts to celebrate the greatness of who he is in a unique prayer each week. The announcements are for your benefit, not the announcers benefit.
3. Visitors who come on time may feel isolated or awkward. But if you’re there you can help them feel welcomed and engaged. You can set them at ease, point to Jesus, initiate a friendship, and bring someone along the path of gospel growth whether they need to convert, commit, grow, or go as a disciple-maker.
4. You won’t have to scramble for a seat in the middle or front when all the back row seats are taken. At CrossView there are many who sit in the back in the beginning and must be exhorted to move closer to the front to care for their neighbors who come later. If you come later and CrossViewers and other attendees don’t move to make room for you in the back, you have to find a seat nearer to the front or middle which may draw uncomfortable attention.
5. It encourages the leaders. Not only the pastor-elders, but the song leader, the gathering leader, and the others who are there on time and feel a significant ownership and investment in their local church. I’m not saying come on time only for them, but it does encourage them and isn’t that one of the reasons for the Sunday gathering as the day of Christ’s coming draws near (Hebrews 10:25)?
6. You won’t be frazzled and your heart can be more in tune with what God is going to be saying to you when you’re not feeling rushed. I hate coming in late and having my mind in 3 different places as verses are read, prayers are prayed, and songs are sung. I can’t maximally receive what God is communicating to me through the gathering and I want to receive it all! Coming early leaving time to pray and repent in the car (for impatience and other sins on the way to the gathering) prepares me and my family to receive all God wants us to receive that morning. It also disciples my kids in a healthy direction.