Four Sure-Fire Tips to Help Your Family Make It to the Church on Time (From a Family Who Doesn’t Always)

Most families I know view Sunday mornings as somewhat of an Olympic event. As we slumber each Saturday night, someone undoubtedly sneaks into our homes to hide Sunday dresses, wrinkle our “wrinkle free” slacks, and switch our cell phone alarms to “silent” mode. Maybe this is Santa’s off-season gig.

Our church home...probably a little earlier than than we're likely to make it there.

Our church home…probably a little earlier than than we’re likely to make it there.

Believe it or not, I can maintain employment. Granted I’m not early to the office most days but I’m rarely late. If my record of church tardiness spilled over into my work week, I’d be homeless right now.

Why is that?

A Tired Old Excuse

I too have propagated the tired old excuse that satan is simply more active on Sunday mornings. Maybe this is true. Or maybe it’s simply a function of a lack of positive habits that’ll get my brood in the pew before the worship team straps on their guitars.

Here’s Four Things That I’ve Found Helps Our Success Rate:

1. Find the Right Church.

No-brainer right? Not for us. When we first moved to Northwest Arkansas, we spent a few years at a church that wasn’t the right fit for our family. They were doctrinally sound, gospel focused, and all that other good stuff…just obviously not where God wanted us.

We finally recognized this and found our church home. When you know where you belong, your attendance will reflect it.

2. Find the Right Service Time.

This one isn’t an option for everyone.

Our church offers multiple service times each Sunday that share the exact same worship and sermon. Prone to miss the alarm when you shoot for early service? Call it how it is. Shoot for a later service that your more likely to wake up for.

This changes seasonally for us. We usually make early service in the fall and winter and are more successful with a later service in the spring and summer.

3. Plan the Prep

Attire choices are less of an issue for men. Women may elect to miss service entirely if the right outfit can be assembled. Know this and plan for it.

Spend that time on Saturday and have your “Sunday best” clean, ironed and ready before bed.

Men aren’t excused from this ritual just because they see no issue wearing cargo shorts and a tee shirt to service (Jesus loves us just the way we are, right?). As I write this, I’m washing a load of laundry…before church…because all of my slacks are dirty. This could have been avoided had I written this post last night and taken my own advice.

4. Back Up the Back Up.

I use an alarm app on my cell phone as my alarm clock. I know what you’re thinking. “This guy is on the cutting edge of technology!” That decade old tool isn’t exactly my tip here…but, you’re welcome anyway.

I like redundancy. My first backup plan is a second alarm I set 15 minutes after the first. My first alarm is intended to gently rouse. My second alarm is designed to rudely invade. The alert notification on that second alarm sounds like a bomb raid siren.

I consider it my backup plan.

But what if I accidentally leave my phone on silent? My wife has an alarm set on her phone too.

If we oversleep, we made a conscious decision to do so.

This list certainly isn’t the only tools to help us get up-and-out on the Sabbath, but it should provide a good foundation to those who struggle like we do.

If you’ve found success in using one of the above techniques to improve your odds on Sunday mornings, or if you have a tip of your own, let us know in the comments.

Question: How have you used these ideas – or others – to be more successful in getting to service on time? You can comment by clicking the “Comment” button below.

At the Trailhead

Greenland TrailheadMy family loves the outdoors.  We struggle to find time to get away but, when we do, we morph into a modern day “Swiss Family Robinson”. In reality, if the AC unit goes out on our camper trailer, we’re out of here.  As long as that dude is humming, we’re hard as nails.  Joking aside, we do love to hike.  I grew up in Scouting and lived in a small town where there was no shortage of places and opportunities to get in the woods.  I also spent some time in the Army where “hikes” were decidedly less fun and infinitely harder. We’ve found it to be a good way to get away from the emails, texts, and phone calls and find a slower pace to find peace from the business, revisit our values and restore ourselves.

For my wife and daughter, the thrill is on the trail. They love finding waterfalls, cliffs and streams for photo opportunities, rock throwing, wading and splashing.  I love this time with them as well.  There’s a different category of happiness that God has reserved for men when they spend time with their family in His creation.  Perhaps my favorite “Man time” however, is in the preparation at the Trailhead.  Ticking the boxes on a checklist and knowing that I have prepared well for any eventuality short of the Apocalypse somehow keeps my man-card up to date:  “First Aid kit….check”, Water…check, flashlight with extra batteries…check, satellite uplink for global communication…check”.  (I’m only half kidding on that last part…if I knew where to get one; it would be on the pack list.)  Part of this comes from years of Scouting where we were taught well to “Be Prepared”.  It was also engrained in us during U.S. Army Basic Training so we were always “Mission Ready” when we arrived at the objective.  The greater pride comes from being the leader of my household and knowing that I’ve done my level best to care for the family that God has entrusted to me should the unexpected occur away from civilization.

This “trailhead thinking” has translated well to all aspects of life.  As I write this, I stand at “The Trailhead” of a new adventure with my first blog.  I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing.  For the last year or so, I’ve felt God calling me to blog.  I’ve since spent a lot of time arguing with Him kind of like Moses did when God asked him to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt “Not me, God…pick someone else!”  God has persisted and, out of obedience, what you’re reading is my first step out in faith that His plan is greater than my fears and apprehension.  Not knowing how to do much more on the internet than key a question into a search engine, this adventure required a lot of trailhead preparation before taking this first step on the trail.  As this thing moves forward, if you return to the site and it still works, rest assured it’s a “God thing” because I’ll be busy re-watching how-to videos every time I want to post!

What adventures do you have coming up in your life?  New job? Lost job? New addition to the family? Creating a blog?  I would encourage you to first make sure you’re on the right trail by asking God and seeking his direction in the Word, in Prayer, and in quiet listening for His voice.  Once He shows you the way, I encourage you to employ trailhead thinking in preparing for the adventure ahead and get moving!  Don’t wait a year like I did…just like hiking a new trail for the first time, there’s no way to know for sure what lies ahead.  The adventure lies in hitting the trail and finding out!