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Your Greeting Team’s Biggest Blind Spot

While this blog applies to all types of ministries, it probably impacts churches the most. From time to time, I visit a variety of churches. It kind of goes with the job. One of the most common things I see in churches is greeters. These tend to be the naturally outgoing people who don’t have any issue with meeting a stranger. Their job is to make a visitor feel welcome, give them instructions on how to get to specific area, and perhaps provide an overview of what might be happening in the service. But there’s an interesting phenomenon that’s pretty consistent. The friendliness level is highest in the parking lot to the doors of the church. It then drops between the doors of the church as you walk into an auditorium, it drops again as you get closer to your seat, and then he drops again when you actually select your seat and sit down.

Simply visit another church sometime and watch what happens. Several weeks ago, I was visiting a church and this exact scenario happened. I got the car. Walked toward the church. Was greeted. Had to get my own program. Sat down. No one greeted me. No one really even gave me any eye contact. There was an opportunity in the service for people to greet one another but no one said hi. 

Now I realize I was there by myself and we’re in covid. But it’s likely this could be happening in your church. I’ve  played my part of this in my own church. When I happen to be outside, I tend to be friendlier with the people who are coming in that I don’t know.  As someone gets closer to my seat, I assume the new people are being greeted outside and I can take a moment to look at the bulletin or talk to someone I know.

How to Test This

It can be easy to assume that everything in your church is just fine and that everybody’s friendly and everyone feels welcome. But here’s a great way to test this. Simply ask three of your friends who do not attend your church to come and visit, and then ask them to evaluate how friendly the experience was. Ask them to evaluate several areas. The parking lot to your entryway, the entryway to the main door, the main door into your auditorium, and your auditorium to your seat. Second, if they came with children, ask your children to do the same. Ask them what Sunday school was like. Were they included as a new family? Would they want to come back? Any other ministry experiences you have while present should be evaluated that way.

Next Steps

It’s important to know how you doing these areas so that you can adjust better. Here are some things that should be done:

  1. People who are on your greeting team may need to be more strategic about walking with someone through their experience at your church. An example of this is actually found in how Home Depot used to direct people to different places within their store. This made sure the customers got exactly what they needed and were taken care of. If your church wants to be approachable and friendly, this tactic useful in giving people a better experience.
  2. Evaluate how you have organize your greeting teams. Sometimes we put together greeting teams based on availability. It might be better to structure these teams based off the needs your church has. A blend of ages and ethnicities might be helpful.
  3. Encouraging people to start thinking about friendliness is not something that is coordinated through a department within the church. Rather, encourage them to be more friendly and inclusive to people who are communion. Encourage people to look for opportunities to see someone and engage with them in a deeper conversation than a typical greeting.

Coming into a new church is intimidating at all points. The more you can improve the experience for someone coming in, the more likely they’ll come back.

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