It was our third visit to a local church in the last 102 weeks. We learned an important tip for your church greeters.
We love visiting that church when we are in that city. In fact, whenever we go, we try to invite a friend to that church.
But this one visit produced a moment of social awkwardness with an overly enthusiastic church greeter.
As we approached the front door, the church greeter raised her hands in joy (she was REALLY happy to be serving).
She then grabbed my wife’s head and planted a big kiss on the cheek.
This was then followed up with a somewhat loud declaration: “It’s so great to be with God’s people today.”
That was weird and completely unexpected. It won’t drive us away, but that greeter was a little over the top.
We don’t remember the sermon, but we remember that kiss.
Lessons Learned for Your Church Greeter Ministry
1. Not everyone loves a hug or a kiss.
We attend many different churches in various cultures because I am in an international ministry.
In several Hispanic churches that I have visited, an air kiss on the cheek happens only after parties have been introduced to each other. When such a greeting is given before a personal introduction, it is an awkward moment.
In many North American churches, the air kiss between strangers doesn’t happen at all.
These are local or cultural customs.
It can be an invasion of personal space.
This can be an unintentional barrier that your greeter creates with your church guest.
Other things that make a better impression during your service will need to overcome that awkwardness. You do not want that unwelcome kiss, hug, or shoulder pat to be the only thing that your visitor remembers.
Nothing quite ruins my Sunday church experience like the 65 year old greeter who tries to mouth kiss me every time I go.
2. Train your greeters to set aside their preferences.
If your greeter volunteers object with “I’m a hugger” or “I’m a kisser,” encourage them to set aside their personal preferences for the comfort of your guests.
My wife once hugged a pre-teen boy of a family friend when greeting him. He had been a child in her Sunday School class in the past, but some time had passed. As soon as she embraced him, she felt him tense up. She learned from that lesson that not everyone wants a hug, a kiss, or even a handshake.
Church greeters should not accidentally violate a person’s sense of personal space because of their own personal preferences
Encourage your church greeters to set aside their personal preferences for a normal greeting that is customary and culturally appropriate to where your church is located.
Train Your Church Greeters
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