So, you’re in the middle of one of the best Bible stories you’ve ever told. You’ve got the attention of every kid in the room, every eye is on you. They’re all connected, and at the same time!
When, boom! In comes "INSERT NAME HERE" and disrupts the entire atmosphere. (Admit it. We all have someone’s name in mind!) Late…again.
Week in and week out, you’ve got kids in your ministry that are habitually late. It’s frustrating. You’re tempted to take it out on them, but unless you have different laws in your state than we do in Tennessee, these kids are not driving themselves to church. It might be that it’s not entirely "NAME’s" fault!
Today’s world is a crazy, busy place. Monday through Friday, it’s work, work, work all day and then practice, practice, practice each evening. Soccer practice, piano practice, ballet practice, you get the picture. Saturdays are not reserved for relaxation anymore. They’re now for putting in extra time at the office, ball games, yardwork, housework, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have time to wind down and watch a movie late in the evening with the kids, which leads to an even later bedtime. Even Sundays, which used to be set aside as a day of worship and rest, have fallen into the trap of "let’s see how much we can pile in to one day." So, who wants to get up early on Sunday so that we can start it all over again?
Maybe you can help.
First, let me encourage you to look at your programming during the week. Are you responsible for overscheduling the kids in your ministry? This can lead to burn out, not only in you, but in the kids and families in your church. One of the hardest things to kill is something that you’ve always done. But sometimes you have to cut out the good stuff to make room for the best stuff. And, that won’t happen unless YOU do it.
Second, you may need to educate parents on how to prepare on Saturday night to make Sunday morning easier. Here are a few suggestions:
- Encourage parents to keep the same bedtime routine on Saturday nights as they have during the week. This will help kids be well rested for Sunday morning. Remind them that this has the added benefit of helping them on Monday morning!
- Pick out church clothes on Saturday night. That way, the child who really wants to choose her own outfit has plenty of time to change her mind dozens of times. The trick is, though, once the decision is made on Saturday night, no changing on Sunday morning!
- Especially helpful…find their shoes BEFORE going to bed!
- Make Sunday morning breakfast simple by putting out cereal, bowls, spoons and cups on Saturday night. In the morning, just add milk!
- For families with young preschoolers, pack that diaper bag on Saturday night. Remember items such extra clothes, diapers, and snacks. If bottles are involved, prepare those on Saturday as well and have them ready in the refrigerator to just pick up and pack!
- For preschoolers and younger kids going to worship, consider putting together a "church only" bag. Fill it on Saturday night with crayons, pencils, paper and other quiet activities to help them through the worship service. Remember to find their Bible on Saturday night so that you’re not having to search for it on Sunday morning.
If you try these and all else fails, you can always try what a friend of mine did on a mission trip with families in his church. He charged $1 per person for each minute they were late. He only had to enforce it once! (NOT my recommendation!)
Do you have other suggestions? Share them here!