“Hi! My Name Is ______!”
How is your greeting ministry? Greeters are the front line for every church and the first contact many of your visitors will make with your church. It becomes very important to put your best foot forward. Why greet? To share the love of Christ with a stranger.
Before addressing tips and tricks for greeting, let’s look at who visits our churches. Visitors can often be divided into two categories: those who are invited and those who aren’t. If you have been a member for more than three years, chances are you will invite out-of-town friends and family. You seldom invite unchurched friends. If you have been a member under three years, you are probably inviting unchurched friends. This is great for adding to the Body of Christ. Focusing evangelism efforts towards unchurched folks is like sowing in fertile soil.
Now let’s look at the uninvited, the ones that just wander in on a Sunday morning: The vast majority of these folks are “church shoppers.” That is, they are likely leaving another church for any number of reasons. They have heard something about your church and are coming to check you out! Finally, we have the uninvited unbeliever. These are extremely rare. Should one come through your doors, praise the Lord. Their presence is likely the result of someone’s fervent prayer, maybe for years. God has elected to direct this person to your church for good reason.
An important thing we need to understand about first time visitors is that they are assessing your church from the time they park their car and walk in. They will have formed an opinion by the time they sit down. If it is not a positive entrance, it will take much work to undo this perception if you have the opportunity at all. So how do we make positive contact with these folks? There are probably a dozen or more things you can do, but let’s just look at three very positive things.
First, you will need members dedicated to this tasks who will get out of their “Holy Huddles” on Sunday morning before church and commit to being a greeter. Most churches are much more informal than they were 30 years ago. However, if you have a very traditional service and folks wear dresses and coat and tie, then a reception line style of greeting is fine. For most churches though, having your greeters “roam” your pre-church gathering area is probably the best. This provides a level of spontaneity that a reception line will not.
In either case, roam or reception style, there are three basics that you want to do:
- Be on the lookout for the unknown person. They may end up being a member, but if they are unknown to you, seek them out and continue with the next step.
- Introduce yourself as follows: “Hi my name is _________.” Shake their hand and wait for them to give you their name. This is the most precious thing they are giving you — their name. Use it! Then engage in conversation, asking about them, using their name at least three times in conversation. This lets them know you value them enough to remember their name.
- Introduce them to others. Once you have learned a little about them, introduce them to another member that may have similar interests or just a good conversationalist. By doing this, you are expanding their contact points with your church. This is extremely important. Be careful who you introduce them to; a Downer Darrell or Sad Sally is poor choice. But Perky Polly or Friendly Fred are great choices. You may even want to work in pairs with other greeters.
All of these tips will likely take less than five minutes, but will leave an enormous impression on visitors. Now, when they go to sit down (and, hopefully with a bulletin you have provided), they will have a positive impression, which just happens to be a good position to be in for receiving God’s blessings this day!
Provided by Jack Rawlins, EtS Presenter