This morning I came across an interesting blog from Thom Rainer called, “Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests.”
The title grabbed me. It’s often a challenge to get someone to walk into the door of your church the first time, it seems obvious that we should avoid things that cause them to not want to come back. So I read it.
Number one on the list: Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service.
My favorite part of his blogs is often the comment section. It’s interesting to see how people react to these things and you can imagine the number one item generated a lot of comment.
My first thought on the list is that numbers 2-9 are probably more serious issues than number 1. Things like: 2. Unfriendly church members, 6. Poor signage, and 10. Dirty facilities, can turn people away quickly.
But about that welcome time. I think how people welcome others, how long the welcome lasts, whether anybody talks to guests beyond the prescribed welcome time, and the local culture are big influences on whether you have a Stand and Greet time. If everyone congregates around their friends and no one talks to the guests, then the Stand and Greet time can be counter productive. If the Stand and Greet time lasts 20 minutes and the prayer is only 20 seconds, we might reconsider our priorities. If everybody has to personally greet everybody every week and catch up on all the family news, it might be time to create a separate fellowship time in the schedule.
I’m not against Stand and Greet. But it never hurts to evaluate everything we do to see if we are doing all we can to make our guests feel welcome.