If you are involved in recruiting and training of church greeters, you will likely run into a church greeter who says
But I don’t know who the first time visitors are!!!!
They may use that to avoid answering your call to recruit them for a given Sunday or for a given rotation on your schedule.
It is offered as an excuse that really is meant to say “I don’t know what I’m doing.“
It might even be offered as a rationale for not serving as a church greeter.
Of course, you are not able to read their mind, so you will want to be prepared to answer this objection when you are recruiting church greeters.
Or, your greeter could honestly have no practical idea on how to notice a first time visitor in the crowd of people who walk through your door.
Three Visual Clues to a First Time Visitor
Here are a few clues that you can suggest in your training that will help you lead your church greeters.
You can use these three quick points when your potential greeter recruits say that they won’t know who the first time church visitors are.
They are 3 visual clues that will reveal the presence of a first time visitor. Help your greeter learn to watch for these three things:
1. Looking for building signs
A first time church visitor may not immediately know where various spaces are located in your building.
- Where is the church bathroom?
- Where do I take my children?
- Where is my Sunday School Class?
- Where is the Mayberry Room or the Parlor Room for the Suzie Mitchell Class?
Your visitors might be staring through the crowd of people, looking for eye-level signage on walls.
They might be looking over the top of everyone’s head for signs hanging from the ceiling.
If you have rooms and classes named after dead people, please consider going visitor friendly and dropping those names.
Your visitor doesn’t know why Mayberry was important, nor why a long dead Sunday School teacher still has a class named after her.
2. Asking questions of volunteers
If your volunteers wear a uniform shirt, or wear a name tag, or where a lanyard with their name, a first time church visitor may feel comfortable enough to ask whatever question is on their mind.
I’m not big on name tags for every single person in the church, but I do think a church that thinks of its first time guests will at least have a name tag, lanyard, or some kind of church branded identification on them.
This visible designation of “official staff” for your worship gathering allows you to approachable.
When I was recently in an amusement park in the United States, I couldn’t find a water fountain. I found someone with a park ID badge on and asked. They pointed me in the right direction.
Make yourself approachable with some kind of name tag or badge, or maybe even consider a branded polo shirt.
Your first time visitors will thank you, and you’ll have created another way to know who you first time visitors are.
3. Moving in a Tentative Manner
People who walk in a direction with a sense of purpose likely already know where they going. However, people who are entering your place for the first time may not seem so confident of their destination.
As I watched people enter that amusement park, people who had been before knew exactly where they wanted to go, but those who were visiting for the first time were somewhat obvious:
- Eyes scanning everything that they could possibly see in all directions.
- Slower walking.
- Sometimes looking at a map. . .
As I watch tourists in my city, they walk slower than everyone else.
They are looking around at all the sights they are seeing for the very first time.
They often stop and point. Whereas the normal residents around them are simply listening to their mp3 player, walking forward with some speed and intentional composure.
If you observe the pace at which people walk, you might detect a first time visitor.
Answer Your Church Greeter Objections
You might think of other visible evidence of the behavior of first time church visitors.
If you can think of one right now, would you put it in the comment box below?
I am at a new church and I want to get your stuff emailed to my new church email. Is that possible?
I love what you do! Thank you!
I have found all of this unexpectedly helpful when I came across it this morning after church, looking for a better understanding of what ushers do. What about the worshiper who prefers to come in quietly, take an order of service from the ones laid out on the foyer table and go to their seat without having to run the gauntlet of outstretched hands and hearty ‘good mornings!’ ?Shouldn’t this be possible for those who are hesitant, unwilling or nervous about all the aspects of encountering a church service for the first time and asking just to be let alone so as to gain a perspective on what they may be are about to experience?
I have a friend with Asperger’s syndrome (extreme discomfort with strangers). So far it has not been impossible for him to find a church home where he can be assured of being left to worship in peace so that eventually he may grow accustomed enough to the routine that possibly he may be able one day to reach out on his own. But in other daily activities, such as supermarket shopping, going to city hall or even a movie theater, no ushers impede him. This is a serious problem. Couldn’t ‘please leave me alone’ body language be included? He has tried a simple headshake and waving a zealous usher away, with no result. Could you address ‘intrusiveness?’
Body language is an important clue. I address this in other places, but I’ve got so many articles, I’ll have to search for it myself 🙂
Hi Chris, your information is very helpful to us who wants to take our ministry a notch higher, i am about to use some of your information at our next ushering meeting.
Thank you Paulina. I’m glad you are finding my stuff helpful!