By Robert Kitchen
Our local newspaper ran an article headlined “Home Decor Starts at the Front Door.” It said an entryway is the visual introduction to a house, and that it sets the stage for all that may follow.
Consider the front door of your church. It should be clean, neat, and in good repair. But it doesn’t stop there. The helpfulness and demeanor of the people who are at the door are what’s most important. Many churches recognize the importance of their entryways; unfortunately some do not recognize them as opportunities.
A church’s music may be tremendous, the sermon may be great, and the service can run smoothly. But the most significant and lasting impression may be the greeting at the door. Most of us are influenced dramatically by first impressions. First-time visitors often make decisions about returning within the first 10 minutes. Even regular attendees may have their attitude established for the day with their experience at the door.
Too often greeting has been relegated to those who can presumably do nothing else, and who can’t possibly mess it up too much. It’s considered an unimportant job; often by those who are doing it. Those who tend our doors must catch a greater vision!
What Greeters Can Do
• Watch for opportunities to help.
• Introduce visitors to someone else. Find ways to learn and use their names.
• Offer a bulletin as soon as practical; not just at some inside door.
• Offer directions and information on current activities, classes, refreshments, the coatrack, restrooms, etc.
• Direct visitors toward a visitors’ table or information counter. Escorting them is even better.
• Assist people in and out of their cars.
• Help carry extra books and belongings.
• Help with children.
• Use umbrellas on stormy days.
• Help visitors find seating—especially if it’s crowded.
• Be ready to provide additional seating.
• Help with parking and keep traffic moving.
• Provide refreshments before and after each service; it is a great way for people to mingle and get acquainted.
• Provide services as hosts to your building for visiting groups and special programs.
An Effective Greeter Is . . .
• An outgoing, friendly person.
• Observant to see visitors’ needs and eager to be helpful.
• Someone who can smile when she doesn’t feel like it.
• One who can converse easily—but not too much. He doesn’t “trap” the visitor or hold up traffic flow.
• A person who is knowledgeable of the building, its classrooms, and church activities.
Remember . . .
• Be cautious of hard squeezes both with hugs and handshakes.
• Don’t spend too much time with the ones you already know. Pay very close attention to visitors.
• Don’t eat and greet.
• Make sure everyone knows his job.
• Have more than one person at each station, if possible, but have at least one. Many people can be used at the door, inside, down the hall, and all around.
• Rotate assignments and have varying ages and genders.
• Be at the assigned post early. Stay on the job after services begin. There are always latecomers, many of whom are visitors.
• Have name tags for volunteers.
There are many more things to consider, but these are good starters. Remember, greeters make important impressions—sometimes even lasting impressions with everlasting consequences.
Robert Kitchen is business manager and an elder at Parkside Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.