Church Greeter Training

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Church Greeters 101 in Paperback

Church Greeter Tips: Show Respect for your Guests

Church Greeters could use this tip as soon as this Sunday at church.  Read on and share

Several months ago, a church greeter kissed my wife.

Other church greeters failed to make eye contact.

We startled a church greeter by asking her a simple question

“Where is the middle school Sunday school class meeting?”

She didn’t know the answer and we created an awkward moment.

As the hospitality ministry leader, it is important that you give constructive feedback to your church greeters.

This includes feedback on hugs, kisses, pats on the shoulder or arm, and handshakes — all of which have the potential to invade a guest’s personal space.

Church Greeter Kissed my Wife

Mark Waltz makes a valuable contribution to this discussion with a recent article shared from his book  How to Wow Your Church Guests: 101 Meaningful Ways to Make a First Impression (Group Publishing):

It’s really simpler than you think. Not everyone wants to have their hand shaken. Churched people want handshakes (unless there’s a flu epidemic, then no one wants a handshake); people new to your church may only want a courteous “hello.”  Read the body language of your guests to determine an appropriate greeting.

  • Both hands are buried deeply in his pockets. He doesn’t want to shake your hand.
  • A parent is holding tightly to their kids hands. Don’t offer a handshake.
  • Her eyes are focused on the carpet. She doesn’t want to make eye contact. Probably not going to shake her hand. You may not even get the opportunity to speak as she passes.
  • He’s answering as briefly as possible while glancing at his watch every three seconds. He’s not into your conversation. Don’t trap him; let him go on his way.
  • He stepped into the lobby and stopped for two seconds as he surveyed the space cautiously. He’s likely new.Approach him with a personal introduction and a handshake.
  • She’s reading the weekend program (or bulletin) word for word. She’s new. No one in your church reads it thoroughly. Opportunity to connect.
  • He’s standing alone in the hallway. Good chance he’s waiting for his lady who’s in the restroom. He hates this wait. He feels conspicuous. Eliminate the mystery: “Will someone try to talk to me?” Put him out of his misery. Introduce yourself.

Make instant assessments. If your guest is communicating, “Leave me alone.” Listen. Otherwise, extend a personal welcome.

Source: Mark Waltz

Not every church visitor wants a handshake.

Not every church visitor wants a hug.

Not every church visitor wants a shoulder touch from a stranger.

Your church greeters could put aside their personal preferences (as in “Oh, Give me a Hug! I’m a hugger.”) and make sure they respect the personal space of a guest.

Unintentional Barriers

Here is a similar tweet:

Nothing quite ruins my Sunday church experience like the 65 year old greeter who tries to mouth kiss me every time I go.

Church greeters can create really awkward moments:

  • Invasion of personal space
  • Grooming Habits
  • Grumpy Frowns
  • Lack of Eye Contact

New church greeters can be

  • Nervous
  • A little intimidated
  • Not sure how to respond
  • Not sure what to say or how to talk to a complete stranger.

It does not have to be this way.

Equip your Church Greeters

Greeter Training DVDHelp your church greeters with this set of DVDs (or download).

Use them in your hospitality meetings.

Use these to inspire your own training.

Greeter Training #1 helps church greeters:

  • The vision of Greeting Ministry
  • 5 Verbs Every Greeter Must Know
  • Conversational Small Talk for Nervous Greeters
  • Saying Goodbye with Style
  • 2 keys to an effective welcome
  • 2 Recruiting Tips
  • Q&A on post service receptions, new Christians, and more.

Greeter Training #2 helps your greeters:

  • How not to appear on a list of crazy things greeters do to embarrass visitors.
  • More conversational small talk for nervous greeters
  • Ways to recognize visitors in a large or small church     <—biggest question
  • How to be a good church greeter
  • The role of greeter in the church welcome
  • 5 Ways to Grow as a Greeter

Several people have found these training videos very helpful to:

  • Show as part of your own training meeting
  • Inspire additional creativity on your part for a training.
  • One took the 5 Verbs from the Training #1 and made a bookmark.
  • They are recorded narrated presentations from an online class.

Each one is approximately 1 hour long.

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20 Church Hospitality Goofs and How You Can Avoid Them

You know that churches make all sorts of hospitality mistakes.   You’ve probably experienced a few church hospitality errors  first hand.

Over the last few months, I’ve compiled this list of 20 complaints shared on Twitter.

Read them and cringe. [Read more…]

Hospitality Ministry Book Review: See You Next Week

During a recent church visitor assimilation webinar (available now for purchase), we discussed some excellent resources on the assimilation process.  One participant recommended a short book on hospitality ministry that was helpful to them.

See you Next Week

See You Next Week is a short text crammed full of ideas that could help your church get started in improving the welcome and integration process in your church.  If you haven’t read any books on this topic, this book might fit what you are looking for.  It can help your congregation develop it’s friendliness.

Who is this book for?

I’ve read several books on church hospitality.  I’ve written two myself.  This particular book would be aimed at the church that doesn’t have an existing hospitality committee or advocate who wants to run the ministry and needs someone to start taking charge.

See You Next Week would be a good primer and overview of the church welcome and hospitality process.

If you have already read some of the related books in this field, you won’t learn anything new.   However, See You Next Week would help you refresh your interest.  The ending section on 11 principles for your volunteers would serve any ministry leader well as a resource for their volunteer training.

In either case, you can find short and quick tips that you would need to polish your existing hospitality and welcome ministry, and quick reminders for your volunteers.

The book is not about evangelism, or even how to share the gospel along the way.  The authors know that is an important topic, but it is outside of the scope of their focus on creating a good welcome and developing your ministry of assimilation.

This book is all about integrating that newcomer into the church family as quickly as possible. This is not a book on evangelism. It is not a book on advertising. It is not a book on church programming. It is a book that focuses attention on that narrow range of activity that should help the newcomer on their way into your church community. On their part it might start with a tentative, “We should try that place out sometime.” But we want it to end with an assured, “This place is my new home!”


See You Next Week is laid out as short two page chapters, followed by a QR code and weblink to more in depth information.

The authors move through

  • The importance of being friendly.
  • First Impressions: the importance of managing it.
  • Next Steps: Plan intentional pathways
  • 11 resolutions for all hospitality volunteers.

Here is what you need to know about the flow of the book. We start together with clearing up some of the basic facts about the subject and the need to integrate newcomers. Then we move on to the attitudinal, mechanical, logistical and general organizational elements to consider. Finally, we give some practical advice for every committed church participant

I presume the promised online resources are still in development.  The preface promised additional resources via the links. I sampled a random few and didn’t find the additional resources hinted at in the preface.  Mostly, I found a page that has the text of the chapter, the audio reading of the chapter, and occasionally resource paper or additional resources.   Maybe more resources are coming as the product development continues.

The Gem of the book

The book is admittedly not about evangelism, or even about how to help people find faith in Christ. The target is to help your church members be intentional in helping newcomers feel like becoming part of the local church family. The writers say right off the bat:

“This is a book about one small slice of church life and therefore doesn’t deal with the diversity of the multiple elements that matter.”

It is full of practical tips on conversational small talk, how to relate to new comers, and various principles that volunteers should keep in mind when serving on a church’s hospitality or greeter ministry. They look at attitude, some mechanics, and some organizational elements of welcome and hospitality.

The value I found in See You Next Week was the 11 resolutions for hospitality volunteers.  These are directed at the volunteers, and you as a ministry leader could use them in your volunteer training.

Most of the books I’ve read in this field talk a lot about the mechanics of hospitality, but this set of 11 principles was written specifically for the volunteer.  It gives you specific ways you can live out a warm welcome from the relational side.

  • Show Up “I will show up for work at church.”
  • Plan “I will plan my work and I will work my plan.”
  • Be Joyful “I will lighten up.”
  • Pick a Seat “I will not sit alone.”
  • Invite “I will invite people to something.”
  • Keep in Touch “I will keep in touch.”
  • Be a Linker “I will introduce newcomers to others.”
  • Be Normal “I will be friendly but not overbearing.”
  • Be a Conversationalist “I Will Become an Excellent Conversationalist.”
  • Live by 5-10-15-Link “I will live by the 5-10-15 link rule.”
  • Reject Rejection “I will reject rejection.”

Short Quotes:

  • A welcoming church where people love to join isn’t built overnight.
  • You won’t get a chance at a second impression if you don’t make a good first impression.
  • Remember, if you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you probably don’t know what you are doing
  • Nobody wants to be around sour people.
  • Don’t look for a comfortable place for yourself; look to make things convenient for others

Other neat quotes:

  • With the “See You Next Week!” system you don’t need 100% involvement. It is a good idea to ask for full participation but if you get 25% participation your church will explode with new energy. If you get 10% participation you will see a noticeable difference in the number of newcomers who decide to make your church their church home. If all you get is one key person to team up with you, you can have high impact.
  • But virtually all church attenders who have been in for very long have forgotten the negative emotions they had in anticipation of their first church experience. It is the negative anticipations that keep many people away. Some take the risk to attend for the first time; they need to be pleasantly surprised. Unchurched people don’t go to church unless something or someone gets them there for the first time.
  • Your program definitely counts for something. But not as much as it used to because newcomers behave differently today. They used to care more about your complete church life. Nowadays, from their perspective, the intended full integration of the typical newcomer into your church life, will be to show up a few Sundays a month or even a season in your main meeting.
  • Meeting people who come from other lands or cultures is especially awkward for many greeters. They hardly know where to begin. And, of course, because there are literally thousands of possible variations it is impossible to cover everything. However, opportunities abound to minister to newcomers from all nations of the world.
  • You get one chance to make a first time impression with first time guests. Your need is to know the process for taking people from a first time newcomer to a healthy, growing, serving member of the church. You should lay out these important stages or touch points along the way. If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process you probably don’t actually know what you are doing. When a church has a really good process of welcoming they can increase the ratio of new people they are keeping while recognizing they will never keep them all.

Order your copy

If you want to add a copy to your library, order yours here.  If you do, I’ll get a few nickels.

Or check out my own ebook that is available to download here.  A purchase of my ebook will also reward you with a free consulting conversation with me about your hospitality ministry, plus information on the best way to get visitor contact information.

A Church Greeter Prayer for Holiness

A holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine.

“It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does we won’t need to tell anybody it does. The light will be its own witness. Lighthouses don’t ring bells and fire cannon to call attention to their shining—they just shine.” – DL Moody

Without holiness no one sees the Lord

A Church Greeter Prayer for Holiness


Today is another day where I get to welcome people into the house of the Lord.  I am glad to be part of Your family, grateful that you have saved me by grace through faith in my wonderful Savior, Jesus.

I know that you will bring people who love You and serve You already.  I pray that they will walk in holiness today and let your light shine through their own live and attitude towards the visitors in our midst.  I pray for my church, that we would visibly demonstrate your goodness through our life, words, and action.

Some of them will have had a rough week, a rough season in their life, and will carry burdens that need You to carry.  Allow me to empathetic where needed this morning, to walk alongside a brother or sister who suffers.

I know that you will bring people who are searching for you.  Some will have had really bad encounters with other Christians and may be a little hesitant to be around Your people, but they search for You none the less.  I pray that our church, myself included, would walk out our holiness so that the light of Jesus will shine.

May we demonstrate such a holy life today that even our non-believing visitors will see our good deeds towards them and will be able to say, “God is in your midst” and glorify You.

May I live and walk in holiness today as I greet people with a smile and open heart.  Without holiness, no one will see the Lord working in me and through me.   You have chosen me to be holy and blameless in your sight, and I know that I appear so, simply because of the precious work of Jesus.  In view of His sacrifice for me, my I live and walk in that holiness.

I surrender any judgmental attitude that may hide in the recesses of my heart.  I surrender any sinful attitude in my heart that would keep me from displaying your grace as I welcome people.  I know that if I cherish sin in my heart this morning, you will not listen. If I cherish sin, I will not be sensitive to leading of of Your Spirit who wants to use me this morning.  I desire to keep my heart clean this morning as I serve in your courts this day.  I know your promises are good and true, so examine my heart and purify any attitudes that may hinder my service.

In Jesus Name,


Scripture used in this Church Greeter Prayer

Hebrews 12:14: Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Psalm 66:18: If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened

Psalm 24:3-4:  Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

2 Corinthians 7:1  Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Ephesians: 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight

1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Do you lead your greeter ministry?

I’ve written a book for leaders of church greeter ministry.  Click on these links to read more (at Amazon).

You can get the 2 DVD Combo Set of Greeter Training DVDs from the store

A Prayer for Church Greeters #1

A Church Greeter PrayerOver the next several weeks, I’ll put out a few prayers for church greeters.

You are free to print, share, forward by email any of these church greeter prayers in this new series with your greeter team.

A Prayer for Church Greeters


You are the Good Shepherd.  You are kind.  You welcome those who seek you with a kindness and gentleness that wins souls.  You welcomed conversation with the Samaritan woman.  You welcomed the lame, the blind, the broken.  You were a friend of sinners that the religious people rejected.   You displayed the greatest love of all, that you laid down your life for your friends.

As people come to my church, help me to be kind to them.  Help me to give them a welcome that is worthy of your Name.  Help me to display kindness in a way that will prepare the way for them to hear God’s word proclaimed in our church gathering.  Help me to set aside my preoccupations and worries and focus on them, so that my reward my be great.

Allow kindness to show forth in me, blocking all negative judgment because of what a guest wears, apparent social status, or ethnic background.   Allow kindness to show forth in as I greet each and every person who walks in the door.  Allow kindness to help me see an unspoken need and meet it today.

Let my ways as a church greeter be pleasing in your sight.  May the kindness I share help a person calm down from a stressful morning, a nervous first time visitor to feel safe, and share a tangible expression of Your love for someone who needs it today.  May the kindness I show help everyone who enters today be at peace.

I clothe myself in kindness today, as chosen child of God.  I want to see each person who enters our church through the filter of kindness.  I will not dishonor a guest by ignoring them.  I will not be angry at a guest for wearing inappropriate clothing.  I will not judge the length of hair or the placement of piercings.  I will protect their integrity and show them hope.  I will not judge them by the color of their skin.

As I walk in kindness today, I will bless each guest and member who walks into our church.  I want to help them to experience your presence.

In Your Name,


Scriptures used for This Greeter Prayer:

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Luke 6:35

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Proverbs 16:7

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

All Scriptures from the NIV.

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