The church I attend changed its schedule this month, and now the LIFE Group I teach begins at 8:45AM, not 10:45AM. If you lead a group that meets on Sundays around that same time, you may have adjusted your start time because of all the stragglers. Here are a few ways that you can encourage your group members to arrive on time:
- Send a reminder email to your group the day before. A short “Hey, I’m looking forward to meeting with you tomorrow” email allows you to remind the group that you plan to start promptly at your group’s designated start time.
- Make sure you aren’t the one who is late. As the leader of the group, you must arrive 15-20 minutes early to check the room arrangement, set out any items the group members are supposed to use during the study, set up A/V equipment, and other important things. Set a good example for your people by being the one who is never late.
- Start on time. This may be the most important thing you can do as a group leader. Do not start late, waiting for the late-arrivers to get there. That is disrespectful to the ones who got up and were on time. Don’t reward bad behavior! Starting on time means that some of your group members are going to miss out on the group’s prayer time, or the start of your Bible study, whichever comes first. That’s too bad for them, but their late arrival is not a good reason to rob the rest of the group of valuable time. Starting on time will train the people to come on time. If you start late, you’ll simply train them to come late. And by the way, never use the phrase, “We’ll start in just a couple more minutes to give people time to get here.” People make it to work on time all week long – I promise, they can make it to your Bible study group if they want to.
- Implement a “latecomer jar.” I’m recommending this one a little tongue-in-cheek, but imagine the fun you could have with your group if you asked latecomers to drop a dollar into the jar (not guests)! In time you could use the money to buy donuts for the group, or flowers for someone who is in bereavement. It’s like having a swear jar for people who won’t get up and get moving on time.
- Use the phrase, “On time is late.” As you have normal conversations with your group members, get into the habit of occasionally using the phrase, “On time is late. Early is on time.” It’s a phrase I’ve tried to instill in my kids, both of whom are Millennials. If you plan to arrive “on time,” things happen and invariably you arrive late. But if you plan to arrive early, 9 out of 10 times you’re going to be there, well, early. That means you are there for the start of the meeting. Early is on time.