In every Pizza with the Pastor gathering I have ever held for newcomers I would ask the same question, “What did you notice first when you came to our church?
Without fail I would hear repeatedly, “How warmly I was welcomed.”
I would convey that story often to our Hospitality, Ushering, Greeting, and Security (HUGS) Team to keep at the forefront of their minds that the first impressions that our guests receive is so very important, not only to their returning but also to their telling others about our church.
What if we thought about our first-time guests as if they were movie-goers. When a movie-goer leaves the theater, within the next week they will tell five to ten people about the movie they saw. So it is with your guests. They will tell five to ten of their friends about your church. What they say will either promote your church or not. They will communicate to others their observations about your music and your message but one of the most important things they can say is how friendly and welcoming your members had been.
Rich Liedtke, who is the author of the booklet, How to Be a Master Greeter says, “In many churches, greeting is only thought of as a function, but it is much, much more. Greeting is a ministry. It is a ministry that has a spiritual purpose, a planned method with an intended result of helping people come to know Jesus Christ. When your volunteers understand greeting as an important ministry, they will be more dedicated to it and fulfilled in it.”
Share your vision again and again of a church full of people who serve each week on your greeting ministry team. Remind them continually that they are making wonderful and lasting first impressions to newcomers who in turn will spread the word to others.