Dear Central Greeters,
How grateful we are for the way you serve this community! As the first person people see on Sunday mornings, you have one of the most important tasks in our church—making newcomers feel welcome, and reminding less frequent attenders that they belong, and continuing to connect with regulars. You’re the face of this congregation to our neighbourhood!
Newcomers: In light of our emphasis at CPC this month on hospitality, we especially want to focus our attention and energy on those newcomers and occasional visitors. As you know, it’s a careful balance to not make people feel bombarded when they visit, but also to make them feel that they belong. Take the time to introduce yourself by name to newcomers, to ask their name and the name of their children if they have them. Ask if they have any questions and assure them that you are available if they do, before or after the service.
Newcomers to faith: Let’s be careful not to assume that visitors are from a faith background. Particularly if they have a bit of a “deer-in-headlights” expression, they might be exploring Christianity or from a very different church background, and might like the bulletin/order of service explained to them.
Greetings: Having moved a lot, I’ve observed a lot of churches that do a great job in welcoming, and many that forget to embrace newcomers. Some statements that are hospitable without being pushy:
Welcome! We’re so glad to have you with us.
Is this your first time with us? We hope you enjoy the service.
Can I help you with anything?
Sorry—I know we’ve met before, but could you remind me of your name?
At the end:
Have a great day. We hope to see you again.
Please let us know if you have any questions about the church or the service. I don’t know everything, but I’m happy to help out.
Would you like to join us for coffee in the fellowship hall?
Would you like to meet the minister or children’s/youth director?
Young families: If families come in, ask if you can show them where the nursery is, and then lead them there and introduce them to the volunteers that week. Please take time to explain that the children are dismissed for Faith Finders during the service and we would love to have the children attend (and parents are welcome if they would like to come and see where the children meet).
Single people: Attending church on your own can be a particularly unnerving experience. If you notice someone has arrived alone, ask them if they would like help finding a seat and if so, find a friendly person or family to seat them with. Or if you notice when you enter the service that someone is alone, sit near them and chat with them after the service.
Whole-service greeting: I know we want don’t want to miss a thing during the Sunday morning service, but often first time visitors enter churches a little late. Therefore it’s a great idea to wait outside the sanctuary doors five or so minutes after the service starts to be able to welcome and hand a bulletin to any latecomers.
If you notice that someone new or an infrequent attender is visiting, make an effort to say hi after the service or even during the closing organ solo. Ask them some questions about themselves and invite them to coffee after the service. If possible, accompany them to the fellowship hall and introduce them to other people there.
Also, if possible, please alert Greg and/or Melissa to any new families, children or youth who are visiting.
Standing outside: If the weather permits, consider having one of the greeters stand outside in the front to greet people. This communicates that we are open and friendly to passersby who might not yet feel ready to come in but are curious. It also takes some of the intimidation out of entering a large church for people who are new.
Theological questions: Once in a while, you might get a theological question from someone who is new to faith, or new to the Reformed tradition. Even an antagonistic question might come from a place of spiritual hunger. It’s always good to validate that they are asking good questions, but don’t feel like you have to answer if you don’t feel like you know the answer. Besides, it’s likely that coffee hour doesn’t provide enough time to actually discuss the issue well, so feel free to say, “You know, that’s a great question, one that I’ve asked a lot myself. I’d be happy to connect you with (a minister or elder) and I’m sure they’d love to meet up and discuss this topic with you sometime.”
People with disabilities: If you greet someone with a disability, ask them if they would like help finding a seat before presuming. If so, ask where in the sanctuary they would like to sit rather than assuming.
The importance of reaching out: In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep, how the shepherd left the 99 sheep in the pasture to go find that one missing sheep. While all of our congregants are important and should receive a warm welcome every Sunday, we are called to show particular attention to those on the fringes of our community: those who are new, those who are seeking, those who are returning though they’ve been gone awhile.
Making a difference: Statistics show that most people make up their minds about what a church is like within the first five minutes of attending. While this might not be the best approach, it’s human nature and points to an important truth: what you as a greeter do on Sunday morning plays a huge part in shaping people’s overall experience of church! Your arriving early, sharing a kind smile, getting to know people and passing out bulletins are all a key aspect of welcoming people into God’s family. Thank you for your service and for helping this community to be a light!