When Church Runs Overtime
When Church Runs Overtime
"Overtime" can be one of the most exciting moments for your favorite sports team. As is the case with many activities, overtime is when sudden-death becomes implemented; meaning, whichever team scores first is the team that gains the victory. The moments of overtime have kept viewers and fans on the edge of their seats for decades. However, not nearly the amount of enthusiasm is gleaned when a church service runs overtime. You'd almost think it was sudden-death for the member attending the assembly when worship exceeds five minutes of overtime.
Trust me, I've been there. Whether the song leader decided to sing every verse of every song or the preacher didn't know how to land the plane and gives several false conclusions. There comes a time when you try to nonchalantly look down at your watch to see how many minutes have gone beyond the designated 12:00 pm mark. Irritation and grumbling can then become bi-products of church overtime. Tensions rise and people begin to check-out, whether it's mentally or physically.
However, every time I find myself in the position of overtime grumbling, I have to realize that Matthew 6:33 is a verse that is far from me. In reality, 6:33 should be very near to us, especially since our Lord told us to seek the Kingdom as a top priority. To be a part of the true assembly of God is a blessing far beyond our knowledge. It is a designated time for us to step away from the world and the worries of it, and fellowship with common souls who have a common God.
To the Jews of Jesus' time, "church" was a pretty foreign concept. While attendees of synagogues would gather together, there was a large concept of community missing. People went on with their lives, letting the world distract them from the family of God. When Jesus started teaching about this Kingdom, it was different than what they were used to. This was the beginning of a time where a new relationship would form between God and man (Jeremiah 31:31). He was going to be the King, and His followers would be the kinsmen. Involvement, gathering, fellowship, friendships, and common bonds would hold this family tighter than any other organization in the world (Matthew 16:16-18; Acts 2:14-47).
Here's the deal: It is usually the secular priorities that create my grumblings when worship runs long. Do not let the outside world distract you from the church. Let the church distract you from the outside world. How many times throughout the week have you thought, "man, I really can't wait for worship on Sunday?" Probably not a whole lot. Yet, how many times during Sunday service have you thought, "good grief, this worship has gone on forever. I really need to get to such and such place?"
Obviously there needs to be some rationality in how we go about worship. The services shouldn't be aimlessly long without a purpose. Rather, they should be filled with purpose and no time restraint should ever handicap that very purpose. So, the Lord's Supper went a bit longer - do you think our Savior minds that? Maybe we sang a couple extra songs or verses - do you think the Father is upset with that sound? Perhaps there were some responses to the sermon - do you think those people could use your time and attention? We ought to be a respecter of time - Respect the day that God has blessed you with by detaching from the world and enjoying the haven of the church. Don't let the secular voices drown out the harmony of Christians gathering together.