The Greeter Gauntlet

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I have visited churches where I approach the front doors and am immediately met by my first greeter. The eager greeter hands me a bulletin and grabs my hand for a shake. Then I get to the door, and another greeter opens the door, again offering me a handshake. Immediately inside the door, another smiling face goes for an embrace. Then there’s a small groups coordinator giving me a handout.

A greeter’s role is to make the guest feel welcome and at home. But when they become obstacles to getting where you are going, you’re creating a greeter gauntlet. Get rid of the gauntlet, and make it easy for your first-time guests.

I imagine myself running a gauntlet — spinning and dodging to make it past the greeter obstacles and into the safety of my seat. “I just want to sit down!” Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic. Perhaps I’m not.

You should have greeters assigned to greet guests and distribute information. I’m not suggesting you forego that. But too many greeters can exhaust and overwhelm your first-time guests. You can’t control if you have an over-friendly congregation. And that’s not a bad thing. But people can tell the difference between being greeted by a random congregant or by an official “greeter,” and it doesn’t take a shirt or nametag for your guests to make that distinction.

So how many official greeters are enough? As a general rule, you should have greeters stationed at key decision points. These decision points include doors and hallways that split into multiple directions. Any place your guests might have to make a decision about where to go or what door to enter, you should have a greeter making that decision easy for them. Other than that, leave the pathway clear.

A greeter’s role is to make the guest feel welcome and at home. So when you station them at locations that might cause confusion, you’re giving the greeter a chance to make the guest feel at ease. You remove the anxiety of a new location. That’s when greeters hit their sweet spot. But when they become obstacles to getting where you are going, you’re creating a greeter gauntlet. Get rid of the gauntlet, and make it easy for your first-time guests.


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About Author

Jonathan Malm is author of The Hidden Option, Created for More, a 30-day devotional, and Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors. His website is jonathanmalm.com/.


Be the Welcoming Church cover image of a smiling person warming embracing anotherHow Can Your Church Make Visitors Feel Truly Welcome and Comfortable?

The Be the Welcoming Church Video Tool Kit will help you develop a congregation-wide ethos of hospitality and institute best practices for greeting newcomers, making them feel at home and encouraging them to return. The resource includes engaging videos, a Study and Discussion Guide, and more. Be the Welcoming Church may be used for hospitality training or in adult classes or groups. more. Learn more and watch video previews now.