So, we’ve been talking about timeliness. As I’m hearing from others, it’s an issue everyone faces. On the weekend people show up late. So here is the big question or questions:
Do you have a “too late to check in” policy? If so, how late is too late?
Some of us have to close rooms because they get too full or there aren’t enough volunteers. I’m not talking about that though. I’m talking about closing rooms because service is halfway over. As children’s ministers, we know why we close the rooms:
- Letting kids in half-way through the service is distracting to the other 17 kids in the room.
- Kids coming in half-way through the service won’t get the full experience possible.
- Emergency/Evacuation rosters are already printed and kids coming in this late might not make it on the roster.
I know some of these excuses sound lame, but to those working so hard to make the weekend a quality experience, it’s frustrating to have kids coming in so late. However, there are several reason why we don’t want to “not” check in a kid so late.
- It could be a visitor and we don’t want to turn away a person who’s coming to check things out (I know, it’s not usually the visitors who are late, but do we really want to be the gestapo who determines who we do and do not let in?).
- Do we really want to keep the kids away as it’s not their fault?
Currently at Gateway, we do not turn anyone away. Our program is such that someone could come in late and it’s not going to be that big of a deal. However I’ve been at churches where it was a very big deal. I talked about it with leadership and they were never interested in going there… so we didn’t. Yes, it does bother me that people come late. It’s annoying and I feel bad that the kids are only getting half the experience that they could, but for me I don’t know that it’s worth doing it.
What about you? What is your policy and why do you do what you do?
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we have three services on Sunday AM and they’re all so short, that letting kids in late isn’t a huge distraction. I usually say something kind to encourage parents to bring them on time, but I know they’re ignoring me…
At the church in Dallas I was at it was a one service, over 2 hour experience; and that was a much bigger distraction to let someone in 1 hour in.
I agree that parents should receive some sort of “training” (well, then again, they’re not dogs!) on getting to church on time. There’s just so much value for them to get there early.
However, I find that the people who get here late are *exactly* the people who need that “welcome, so glad you are here” message from us. They didn’t look at the clock as they were parking and say, “well, it’s too late now… might as well turn around and go back home. The Sunday New York Times is waiting.” They got out and want a connection instead.
I know it’s inconvenient for us and distracting for the children, but don’t we want to teach children that the lesson they are receiving is about more than their little group? Accepting the “late kids” might actually teach them about outreach.
Additionally, I feel that if we close the classrooms we actually punish the wrong people. None of these children have the power to get here earlier; they are all brought by late parents/adults.
Good stuff Christian! As frustrating as it is for the parents who come back late week after week, there are those who do show up late that really need to be there. Kindly telling then that when they come back on time the next time might just be the same as telling them, “thanks, but no thanks!”
But as Jonathan said, I see no reason why you wouldn’t encourage parents to come on time, especially the ones who are regulars and always late. Far to often we don’t say what needs to be said because we’re afraid of confrontation.
Hmmm? Christian you have shed new light on this topic for me and have given me good stuff to think about and chew on. Thanks for sharing a different voice. I personally am a real stickler for time, but this gives me some things to take into consideration. I’ll keep thinking.