Are Greeters in Church a bad thing?

They are a staple in any church that you go to.  Normally you will see them at the door to the sanctuary, sometimes you will see them at the main door to the church, and in a few cases, you may even see them in the parking lot.  They are first and foremost in welcoming
people into the congregation.  Visitors who are turned off by a congregation state that one of the main reasons is that they were not greeted in the manner they were expecting.

Now in many churches Greeters serve two purposes: they are the welcoming face that greets people upon their arrival to church, and they have the functional responsibility of passing out bulletins to both members and visitors.

Interestingly, years ago, the congregation I serve passed the bulletins out at the end of the service when people were leaving.  The bulletin was strictly announcements and was not needed until the end of the service when one was leaving.  The Greeters thereby had the
sole job of welcoming people upon their arrival to church.

This leads us to the issue surrounding the role of Greeters.  Their function is to welcome people to church, but that immediately implies that no one else is greeting people who
come to church.  Greeters are thereby the ones who are either assigned or volunteered to welcome visitors on behalf of the congregation.

Now, this job does need to be fulfilled in some way; and bulletins still need to be distributed in an effective manner; but Greeters are still doing the job that is really the job of every member of a congregation.

Every member of a congregation should be welcoming and hospitable both to their fellow members and to those who are visiting.  This is showing love to one’s neighbor in the
most basic manner: at the local congregation.

Now I very much agree that sometimes visitors to congregations can be demanding and finicky at the same time.  Some want a red carpet and trumpets to announce their arrival; others want nothing more than a bulletin and a pew with a hymnal that does not have too many pages colored on.  But ultimately, it is better to kill with kindness than to ignore and neglect.

What is the role of every member of the congregation when they see a fellow member at church?  Welcome them as you would an old friend into your home, for these are
your brothers and sisters in Christ.

What is the role of every member of the congregation when they see a visitor who has come to church, whether it is for the first time or the twentieth time?  Welcome them as you would a new friend into your home, for these are your brothers and sister in Christ.

Greeters are wonderful people, and in many ways are the face of the congregation when a visitor arrives; but they should never be the only face of a congregation.  The congregation is a compilation of many faces, each of which is a brother and sister in Christ to that visitor.

Imagine the congregation that greets its members and visitors in such away, that by the time the visitor gets to the door where the assigned Greeters are, they can say: ‘No
thanks, I already have a bulletin.
’  What are the odds that visitor would come back a lot sooner than the one who reaches the assigned Greeters and must say ‘Excuse me, may I have a bulletin?

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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