The greeters at your church doors are a big deal. While the parking team may be the first that a guest sees, the greeters are usually the first ones that they talk to (or even shake hands with, more of a rarity in the current post-Covid world). The good news? I have visited roughly 150 churches, and have usually been greeted in a friendly manner by someone with a smiling face that appeared genuinely happy to see me.
However, I’ve also visited churches and sadly saw greeters that were (unknowingly) working against the goal of people feeling welcomed. These greeters usually fall into one of two groups. The first is guest services people who are far more focused on interacting with friends and “regulars” than with visitors. They might hold the door open for you, but – if they are talking to a buddy – the conversation doesn’t stop and the eye contact never shifts your way.
Worse than the “ignorers” are the greeters who fail at the one real job that they have – being welcoming. I will likely remember until the end of my days a visit to a large church ten or so years ago. After already being overlooked at the info booth by an “ignorer” (see above), my family headed into the auditorium. The lady manning the door (or perhaps guarding it) was ancient and looked at us with a mixture of what appeared to be severe aloofness and disdain, handing us a bulletin, deeply frowning, and cringing as if our very presence offended her sensibilities (ok, I may be exaggerating – slightly…). I don’t think that most greeters of this sort are nasty, cranky people. It’s likely that they’ve simply never had the “win” explained to them beyond a generic “Be welcoming.”
The solution? The same as yesterday’s post: It all comes down to helping the team focus on the “why” over the “what.”