Who is a Church Greeter?
Well, everyone, of course. Hebrews 13:2 is pretty clear about that
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
The problem is that when it is everyone’s job, it is pretty much no one’s. Everyone else’s job, not mine, is probably closer to reality. Even worse, the longer you have been around or the higher up you are in the leadership hierarchy, the more likely this is your situation.
Motivation for Coming to Church
When someone comes to a church for the first time, they may have thought about it for as long as a year. Not only that, it is quite likely motivated by some sort of void in their life aching to be filled. Such a person is incredibly fragile. It would not take much to discourage them. They might be polite and not turn around immediately, but they are not likely to return. So what do you do to avoid that? Clearly, it can not be left to chance or whoever is available.
How the World Greets People
Some stores (although motivated by Dollars) do this better than churches. A few steps inside, you are greeted with a cheerful “hello.” As soon as you get to the first aisle, someone immediately stops what they are doing and asks you if you need help with finding something. Not only that, they do not just point you in the right direction, they take you there and locates the item for you. They may even offer to help you carry it if it is a large or heavy item. Does that make you feel like you matter at that store? Of course it does.
Some other stores have a different approach. You may still get a “hello” at the door. After that, a salesperson on commission starts to follow you around with the latest promotion. If you have had this experience, you will know what I am talking about.
What about the store where you find the aisle blocked by a couple of guys along with boxes and carts re-stocking shelves while deeply engaged in conversation? You really would like to get to an item right where they are standing. Do you interrupt their conversation and ask them to hand it to you or do you just turn around and leave?
What is the Difference?
Which one makes you feel more welcome? What is the big difference? The difference is that the first one made you feel that you mattered without being intrusive or smothered. The approach felt sincere and the profit motivation well hidden. In the second example, every attempt to disguise the profit motivation totally fails. It is almost tangible. Of course, the third example makes no attempt to make you feel important because you are not.
Who is a Greeter at Your Church?
Who is a greeter at your church? If your answer is “whoever is available,” chances are that no one really is. Wouldn’t it be true that everyone thinks someone else is more available than they are?
The answer is that everyone is a greeter. Yes, but not in the sense the world sees it. How does the Bible tell us to live our lives? Totally yielded to Him is the correct answer. The reason the Bible does not tell you who is a greeter is that it assumes that you all are all the time. There is no need to point it out.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)
Now that we have established who is a church greeter, the next question is how exactly do we do that?
In the story of Abraham and the three visitors (Genesis 18:1-15), Abraham did not wait for the visitors to come closer before greeting them. No, as soon as he spotted them in the distance, he ran, not walked, out to greet them. He did not just say “hello,” he bowed down “low to the ground.” Not only that, he ordered water and food brought out to them. It was not just any calf from the flock he had slaughtered, but a “choice” one, the best.
How we do it
Is that how we greet people who come to our church? I think you would have to admit that we are a lot more like the third kind of store described above. Is it not true that, sometimes we get so wrapped up in our conversations with our friends that visitors could walk right by us and we would not even notice? Does that not send a message that the stranger is less valuable than our friends? Of course it does. So how do we create a culture in the church that visitors matter?
Do you remember the verse that talks about who and how we should love one another?
He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27).
You may have come across the acronym JOY, right? It stands for Jesus first; You last and Others in between, the exact same order as in that verse. It does not begin with you, not even the visitor, but with God. You know how much God loves us, right?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16).
It basically says that God loves the world (=us) so much that He was willing to give up his only son (=Himself) so that we could be saved.
Why does He expect us to love Him the exact same way? Because:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27).
He created us to be just like Him. To be like Him, we would love our neighbors the same way He loves us, more than Himself. Of course, he is perfect and Holy. We are not and that is why we fail to greet our visitors as He welcomes us into His kingdom.
How to Become a Better Greeter
To make a long story short, the way we become more welcoming as a church is to become more like God, to glorify Him above all, to believe in Him. The way we do that is a story for another day, but it involves opening His word to our hearts. Then, He will open our hearts to His word. In other words, we need more Bible study. We need to get rid of the things in our lives that distract us from following Him.