to greet or not to greet, that is the question.
A few year’s back my mother-in-law told me her most hated pet peeve about churches…
She said it was the time when a lot of modern churches have you walk around and say “hello” to five people, or something similar. Being an extrovert and also having worked at the churches I attended OR at the least, having been super highly involved in the churches I attended, I asked why.
For the previous five plus years, she had spent 6 months of the year traveling in her RV and had visited a lot of churches. Being a bit of an introvert, she said it’s so very awkward to high five or hug five people you don’t know.
“do you introduce yourself?”
“do you ask how they are doing today?”
“do you just say hello?”
“what do you do?”
She actually said it made her semi-dread coming to our church because for a season she was sitting in the service alone, based on work schedules and she didn’t know anyone.
I filed our conversation away as something to blog about in the future and left it at that.
While Paul mentions greeting one another with a holy kiss on more than one occasion, we have to take consider the context. “Church” for Paul and most of the disciples was gathering in people’s homes talking, eating, and sharing stories of Jesus or theology. It wasn’t hundreds or thousands of people at multiple services times, trying to make sure there was enough parking before the next service starts.
It’s possible our church model is wrong. I know there are a lot of churches like this one, that are totally tweaking their model. It makes a little more sense to greet one another when you already know each other.
I get the point, how can your church grow smaller, if you don’t take the time to “greet” one another or make new friendships. But you have to ask, is any friendship or relationship going to grow out of that hello? Most likely not, which is why most churches provide small group systems, Christian education classes, and Bible studies.
So, anyway, as I previously mentioned, I filed my MIL’s experience away, waiting for a time when I had something to add to it. Well, a few week’s back I was at a church I’ve been attending when it came time for the” find a few people around and greet them moment”. It was awkward, there wasn’t really anyone that turned towards me at the right time, and then when they finally did, I was finally shaking hands with someone else and then they turned away and I was, of course, asking myself the same questions.
“do I introduce myself?”
“do I ask how they are doing today?”
“do I just say hello?”
“what do you do? This is awkward”
Having said ALL that…
i have come to the consensus that i don’t think that the mid-service find five people to say hello to is the best way to help people connect.
- introverts – as a whole group of people this would be stressful to them.
- first time guests are probably already overwhelmed
- seeing that it provides little authentic connection, potentially making your church seem more shallow
Most modern churches now having greeters at the door and in the service, as well as at the child check-in stands. A lot of churches have gone one step further utilizing the idea of a host who is going to provide amazing one on one connection. The congregation should, of course, be greeted corporally by the pastor, worship leader, or staff, these are great tactics for helping people feel connected, without all the awkward fumbling.
Additionally, people in real community with one another are going to catch each other in the lobby, in the parking lot, in a class and greet one another. If friends actually sit by one another, the short amount of time in service isn’t enough to catch up anyway, and just makes them seem rude if they try to talk as the service transitions.
So what do you think about the in-service greet? If your church does it, why are you doing it? Is it because of habit or because it has some amazing benefit I didn’t mention here today. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 👇