The indoor greeters are often the first face people encounter as enter church. For a first-time visitor, this is all the more important, as many visitors feel uncomfortable walking into a new environment and may have a variety of questions, pre-conceived ideas, and insecurities at work as they walk through the front door. The greeter may not be able to calm every nerve but a friendly smile can go a long way.
Smiles and Hugs
You never know what kind of week someone has had, but walking into church and being welcomed into the assembly of the saints with a smile or a hug helps us all feel at home. The job description is pretty much in the title: Greeter. That’s the core of it! Greeting people as they come in and being genuinely glad to see them.
What’s their Name?
When you’re greeting everyone who comes through those doors, you begin to realize how many names you might not know. That’s OK, but don’t leave it at that; simply ask them again for their name and offer them yours. If you’re not sure if you’ve ever met before, just ask them. There’s a good chance this is there first time which is a great opportunity to help them feel at home. There’s also the chance they’ve been attending every sixth week for the past five years, which happens to be the same week you’re away visiting your Aunt Ruth in Visalia. Either way, don’t hesitate to ask. Our hesitation to ask, be it their name, or, if they’ve attended before, can easily create a tinge of awkwardness, but be perceived in their minds as anything their imagination can conjure up.
Some people are better with names than others. A great idea is to keep a note in your phone titled, “Visitors.” When you have a moment to yourself, add their name to the top of your list with the date and something to add context for you. It might be, “friend of Mel. Lives in PMC” or “Heidi Baker hair style. Visiting from Orange county.” You can review that note before greeting again, or reference later after you’ve already forgotten their name.
Take time to help visitors get settled in. Ask them where they’re from, how long they’ve lived up here, and when your chit chat is winding down be sure to ask if they have any questions you can answer for them. In addition to your own familiarity of faces, there are a few tip offs that someone could be visiting for the first time.
Early Arrival: Some visitors make a point to arrive early. They don’t want to be late their first time, they don’t know what to expect or where everything is at. Because they’re a little nervous, they haven’t adjusted to mountain time.
Dress: Sometimes (but not always) someone who is a little more formally dressed might just be a visitor.
Children in Service: If you don’t recognize them and their entering the sanctuary with their children, they probably don’t know where children’s ministry is at. They’re certainly welcome t keep their kids with them in service, but we want them to know that children’s ministry is available. This is also a great opportunity to walk them over to the classrooms and introduce to the teacher. If you’re greeting as a couple, one of you can stay and continue greeting while the other walks them around.
The Practical Side of Logistics
Timing: It’s good to be available to greet about 10-15 minutes before service starts and remain in the foyer to greet until the end of worship.
Your Seat: It’s good to save your seat during worship. Any seats close to the foyer are good. The seats immediately next to the tithe box, behind the coffee cart, or the end seats of the back rows are all great locations.
Multi-Tasking: Greeting requires just a little bit of multi-tasking, in so far as you’ll want to be aware of what’s going around you. Is service starting? Are we praying? Is worship ending? Is the worship team between songs? Are we running out of seating? These may seem like insignificant observations but they’ll help you help others by eliminating unnecessary distractions in service.
Lights: Aside from greeting people as they enter, the greeter is also responsible for adjusting the lights during service. This entails turning down the lights that shine on the projector screen as well as dimming (about half-way) the lights on the congregation. We just don’t want to turn down the lights on the worship team or they have a difficult time seeing their music. At the end of worship, we bring those lights back up again. It’s always nice to use the dimmer switch for smoother transition, and adjusting lights while Anne is praying also makes for less distraction as eyes are closed. We’ll do the same thing for our time of corporate prayer and closing worship. At the end of service, there’s no need to rush in turning the lights back on. The room can stay dimmed for a little while as people fellowship. An immediate turning up of the lights typically communicates, “it’s time for ya’ll to leave” which is not how we want people to feel.
Your Volume: Greeting people during worship obviously requires a little volume on your part. The key is to not speak so loud that it draws the attention of others worshipping. Also, when a song is winding down, you need to be aware of the need to bring your volume down with it, even to a whisper for between songs, as you’d be the only person in the room talking.
Your Worship: There’s no need to not be worshipping from the foyer. People aren’t entering continually, so feel free to worship right where you’re at . You’ll know when the door opens (unless perhaps your eyes are closed) and you can turn to greet whoever is coming in.
Non-corporate Prayer: During opening or closing prayer, feel free to bow your head in prayer. Aside from any adjustments to lighting, it’s fine to let people enter and see that we’re praying.
Corporate Prayer: For our time of praying with one another, simply go back and adjust lights (once pastor Rich is finished at the pulpit) and then go ahead and find someone to pray with. There’s nothing else that needs your attention during prayer.
In-service Needs: If any needs arise during service, take it upon yourself to try to meet that need. It could be handing out a Bible to someone, helping the outdoor greeter locate a parent, or walking around to share with a Sunday school teacher the need to be a little quieter during service. Most of these are rare occurrences, but take it upon yourself to solve any problems that might arise during service. In the event of an emergency be available to help however you can.