Pastors aren’t very fond of those gray days when the rain is relentless, but a few weeks back we had one of those days. What made the day a bit more cheerful was one one of our greeters. He was wading out into the parking lot with a huge red beach umbrella! He could have easily fit a family of five under it. We chuckled at the sight while admiring his commitment. Our major concern, however, was that a wind gusts might come along and take him away!

It was indeed a humorous site, but our greeter carried that umbrella back and forth into parking lot with a broad smile on his face. He was delighted to serve – even if it meant getting soggy doing so.

red umbrella

When we started Grace Fellowship in 2004, one of the first ministries we established was a greeting ministry. We wanted to have smiling faces greeting people as they showed up on Sunday mornings, so we asked people to volunteer to be at the doors into the high school in order to welcome members and guests each week. We wanted our guests and members to know they were special as soon as possible.

In 2007, we opened the doors on our first church building. We had learned the value of having greeters, and we found people excited to embrace that ministry in our new location. It may not seem like a super important ministry considering everything that the church does, but it is! I would argue that it is one of the factors in a guest’s opinion of the church and whether or not to return the next week.

Over the next few posts, I want to share some of the reasons why we think a Greeting Ministry is so important. In doing so, I hope our current greeters are both encouraged and challenged. I also hope others might begin to see just how much this ministry is needed and would perhaps consider becoming a part of it. I’ll try to keep these posts brief, so my plan is to stick to one point each post. So here’s today’s point —

Good Greeters Create a Welcoming Atmosphere.

Have you ever entered the doors of a restaurant and found no one there to greet you or guide you to a table? It’s kind of an awkward feeling to look around for a server or manager or maitre d’, but no one seems to notice that a hungry, paying customer just came through the door. Most quality restaurants would be horrified for this to happen.

What a difference it makes when there is someone at the door waiting for you. They open the doors with a smile and tell you “welcome.” Then they point you to someone who seems enthusiastic to get you into booth or at a table, even telling you the name of the person who is going to serve you for the evening. When the friendly server appears, introduces himself or herself, and takes your drink order, you relax and expect to enjoy the meal to come.

I love great service. It’s one of the reasons I like to eat at Chick-fil-A. I could eat at a cheaper fast food place, but the exceedingly friendly staff and the always tasty chicken means I’ll skip the other guys and pull into a Chick-fil-A every time. (By the way, if someone would like to build a Chick-fil-A in Greensboro, Georgia, I’ll be a frequent customer!0

When someone visits a church for the first time, their first impression is a big factor in whether or not they return for a second visit. The Greeting Ministry is the front line. Is there anyone at the door? Are the greeters genuinely enthusiastic to welcome the guests? Do the greeters work to recognize new faces? Do the greeters take the time to direct people to where they need to go?

Too often, those who accept the call to be a part of a greeting ministry get more lax as time goes on. They begin to show up later than the assigned time. They get involved in conversations with friends and fail to notice new faces. The ministry becomes routine – an assignment I have to do – rather than a vital service that makes a real difference.

If you’re part of a greeting ministry at Grace or another church, let me say a huge THANK YOU. What you do matters, and it matters a lot. If you’re not a part of a ministry, consider stepping up to become a greeter. You’ll not only get to know more people, your ministry will be part of the reason some families decide to come back the next week.

Stay tuned for more…

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