Friday, August 21, 2009
A Must Read for EVERY Church: Greeters
Greeters can make or break the experience of visitors to your church. I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to humans greeting me as I walk into church. I typically wear shorts, t shirt and flip flops to church. I remember a greeter at our previous church saying to me, "Young man, shouldn't you consider dressing as if you are coming to a wedding instead of the beach?" My family and I go to FUMC church in Port Orange, FL (www.firstchurchpo.org) . We've been a part of this church for over 2 years and I will always remember the first day we walked into the church, the person who greeted us and what she said. "Welcome and by the way, you'll probably think the music is way too loud." It's interesting because the "loud" music was one of the reasons that we came back to church the next Sunday. In my opinion, the church does not spend enough time training the right people for "Greeters" ministry. We'll typically take anyone who has a pulse and just throw them into the fray with little or no training. One other thing, don't let anyone be a part of your "Greeters" ministry if 99% of the time they look like they are "sucking on a pickle". My friend John Dobbs inspired my post today by "tweeting" these "Great Greeter Guidelines" on Twitter today. You can read the entire list by clicking here or take a look at my favorites below:
Speak in a welcoming way. Don’t ask people whether they’re “new here.” If the answer is “no,” they might be annoyed; and if the answer is “yes,” they will feel even more like outsiders than they already do. Instead, when you don’t recognize people, simply welcome them to St. Andrew’s, introduce yourself, and say that you don’t think you’ve met them before….
Use simple terminology. We use a lot of code language in the Episcopal Church. If you’re speaking to a visitor, don’t say, “Go through the narthex and turn right to find the undercroft.” Instead, use everyday language like “entryway” and “basement.” Feeling ignorant doesn’t help a visitor feel welcome.
Introduce people to others. Once you’ve had a chance to engage a visitor in conversation, don’t let the welcome stop there. Find other St. Andrew’s members who are outgoing and friendly, and introduce the visitor to them.
Consider yourself “on duty” every Sunday. As a greeter, you won’t always be scheduled to serve. But in a sense, greeters need to be on duty every Sunday, always looking for people to welcome. It’s especially meaningful to a visitor to be greeted by someone who doesn’t “have to” do it.
Engage people in conversation. When you’re talking with visitors, don’t just limit yourself to pleasantries and comments about the weather. Ask them about the topic they know the most about: themselves and their lives. This helps them feel a connection to you (and therefore the church), and it lets them know that people here care about them.
SERVE WITH JOY!
“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” — Matthew 25:35