I think it’s common for church leaders to place friendly welcoming people at our front doors. Life can be tough so it’s always great to see a smiling face at church. There are a few blind spots that I think we should look at, however. Sometimes, we get into a routine and never revisit the welcoming component which is called by various names within the local church – “guest services”, “greeter ministry” or “first impressions team”.
Know your WHY
While those serving may be nice, they also may be more inward-focused rather than outward. Remember, the purpose of this area is to greet, welcome, and assist. If there are two or more people gathered at the entrances, the chances of them having an internal conversation can become the norm. When this happens, instead of a friendly hello, the welcoming and assisting of first-time guests, this area will become a bulletin handout station… and nothing more.
Be friendly – be kind – anticipate needs, questions and concerns. Think tour guide versus bulletin station.
If there are children within the family help explain the children check-in process. Try and overstaff this area so a person can walk first-time guests to meet teachers etc.
Don’t Be Scary
Another tip – especially for those who don’t get first-time guests as regularly as you would like – Don’t ask too many questions! There is excitement… you have been praying for this family and here they are.
Don’t scare them off with too many questions. Relax. God has called some to be a part of your local church. Others, He has called to visit as they discover their next church “home”. remember all Bible-believing churches are on the same team. #teamJesus
First-time Guests Are Like Ninjas
Not all, but many first-time guests are ninja-like. It’s a scary thing to attend a church for the first time. So to navigate the “unknown”, they come in late and leave early.
One of the problems I have witnessed is the greeters are in place prior to the start of service and then they go into the worship service. If your church is doing this, you will miss all of the ninjas 🙂
Consider staying in place for longer than normal and also returning to your post at least 5 minutes prior to the end of the service.