Signs can’t replace people on Sunday mornings

Its Sunday morning.  Do you know where your greeters are?

Here’s a quick growth tip:

  • Place two friendly (but not too friendly) greeters outside your main entrances every Sunday morning you have services.  Every single Sunday.  All the main doors.
  • Have one be an established member who knows everyone (or is at least working on it), the other person?  A newcomer.  Someone interested in getting involved.
  • Make sure these people know how to smile.  If they can’t smile in a warm friendly fashion, they don’t get the job.
  • And make sure they know where people can park, what time things are happening, where the children are to go.
  • And make sure they can explain what Unitarian Universalism is.

Seems like a lot to coordinate, right?  Perhaps. But I’ve found people love doing this work/ministry.  Front step greeters become passionate about it.  And this is important because  how you are staffing the outside of your congregation says everything about your intention to greet people, welcome them into your community, and help them find their way.

Breaking down the recommendations above:

  • You place two people because when you staff outside, people are always asking for directions, advice, and arm to help the infirm or elderly, and on and on…  Two allows you to help more people and keep the door staffed as things come up.
  • You have an established member with a newcomer to turn it into an opportunity for the newcomer to get involved right away, be introduced to the community, and get an informal education on congregational life.
  • Not everyone knows how to smile.  You need friendly people.  There is a greeter at a church near us that looks like a secret service security guard.  Shades, no smile, no thank you…
  • There are so many logistics people have questions with on Sunday.  If you can answer them outside that keeps some newcomers from blowing off going to church and other informational requests from falling on your worship and RE leaders.
  • Sometimes I’ve been greeting and someone has walked up and asked about Unitarian Universalism.  Some listen then come in for worship, some don’t.  Other times a first time visitor will come and will  be relieved to have a few questions answered before entering the building.

I was reading the book First Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church and I cam upon a phrase that sums this up nicely.  Signs can’t replace people. It is wonderful coming to a church that clearly marks the parking lots, entrances, and rest rooms.  But even better is the church that has people tasked with helping newcomers find their way.

Note that some congregations have ministers on the front steps before the service.  I personally don’t advocate for this. It doesn’t take into account the functions that these greeters should be performing.  You can have the minister outside, but just have that be in addition to your primary greeters.

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