It does not matter how large or how small a church may be, it is a good thing to have some people who are designated and charged with the responsibility, and gifted with the ability, to greet people and make them feel warmly welcomed to the church. It’s interesting to me, as I am in so many churches every month in our state, how many of the churches have these greeters. They cross all ages. There are senior adults who are great greeters, and there young people and teenagers who do a super job, and there are boys and girls who oftentimes stand alongside an adult who can help them understand what they are doing, and they realize that God can use them to welcome people into their church.
It does not matter how long you’ve been involved in the church. You can welcome people. In fact, it’s interesting to see people who may come into a church family and have only been there for months or a few years, and they are so elated, so excited, so expressive of an exuberance of how delighted they are to be in that church and to welcome others to come and join them in worship. Sometimes when people have been in a church forever and ever, they move into a phase of entitlement and ownership. They lose sight of what God is really doing there and they mainly lose sight of the fact that it’s not their church, it’s His church. As people come and visit, maybe even looking for a place to be a part of the family of God, they just kind of give them a once-over and then ignore them. That’s not a good thing to have in a greeter.
Recently as I was traveling in an area of the state, it was about time for a quick bite to eat and I pulled into a restaurant that, if my memory serves me correctly, was built about 12-14 years ago. I had stopped by there before. I enjoy the food and it doesn’t take long to get on your way. I walked into this restaurant that has been in business for over a decade. It isn’t part of a chain across the nation. I went in there and walked up to the counter to place my order and no one spoke, at least not to me. They were speaking to each other and I just stood there and waited for them to get around to the customers wanting to place an order. No one did. They were engaged in conversation about their own activities and just ignored me. I’m used to people ignoring me, so I just stood there hoping for a breakthrough and waiting for an opportunity to be waited on. There was a drive-through window and I recognized that they were really busy. The guy who was in charge over at the window saw me standing there and hollered across the restaurant and said, “We’ll be with you in just a minute.” I nodded to him and said, “Thank you.” The employees there at the counter carried on their conversation, and they helped fill some of the window orders but nobody took my order.
The longer I stood there, the more irritated I became. Nobody paid me any attention except the drive-through guy over there across the way, and he wasn’t taking my order either. Finally, a person who initially hadn’t even been there took my order. That same week, the very same week, I was in another part of the state that had a brand new, shiny, sparkling restaurant of the same chain. A huge sign was out front that said, “Grand Opening.” It was close enough to eating time so I decided I’d pull in there and give them a shot at my business. I parked the car, went in the door, and half the employees welcomed me. The people who were working there smiled and thanked me for coming. They were eager, pleading, for me to give my order. I did. They got it put together, called my name, gave me my food, and asked if there was anything else they could do for me. “No, but I sure do appreciate y’all,” I said. I thought of the contrast — the same fast food restaurant, but a totally different atmosphere.
Sometimes I’m afraid that whatever it was that happened in that first restaurant, happens to us. Like those employees, we really forget the reason why we’re there. We settle into complacency and we don’t want to get out of our zone to express appreciation to people who are coming to church who need us. They’re hungry, thirsty, and they need help. Greeters are the kind of people who never lose their sense and their sensibilities of why they’re there and why they’re needed. It doesn’t matter if only one or two or three people come in the door where they are standing and greeting people. A greeter can make a difference in their day — and help make a difference in their lives.
The Bible says that we are to be people of hospitality. Long before there was a hospitality state called Mississippi, there was a hospitality faith brought to us by Jesus. Now, I would not put the responsibility just on the greeter at the door, but it seems to me that we need to have, all across the congregation, committees composed of one — me — and maybe a committee of one – you – who will take it upon ourselves to be that person who finds at least one person and lets them know this business, ordained and blessed by Jesus, is open just for you and we’re glad you’ve come to worship with us today.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.