This shouldn’t be news to you … but I keep running into the practice in declining churches.
If you’re still doing a Meet and Greet – or if your “Passing Peace” is a disguised version of the Meet and Greet (and they typically are!) – then
To begin with, the Meet and Greet is not guest friendly. In fact, it’s the opposite. It is the most stressful, angst-producing moment, visitor unfriendly practice in your whole service for them. Meet and Greets are disguised fellowship times in the guise of “we care” about our visitors. Invariably, guests are greeted momentarily by one or two people (if that) and then are left to stand there, conspicuous, by themselves, while everyone else chats all around them. They don’t know anyone and they’re out of their element, and so they feel left out and, as mentioned earlier, conspicuous as they stand there all alone.
Second, in several studies of “outsiders” of the church, Meet and Greets rank second in the things visitors hate the most. Number 1 is having to stand up and be recognized as a visitor and Number 2 is the Meet and Greet. (Please tell me you’re NOT doing the former …)
There is NO valid reason for making your visitors feel this way. And when a church member says, “But it’s how I get to know who the visitors are” or “I always like that when I go to another church” remind them that they are well-churched and can’t speak – or even imagine – what it’s like to be someone in a completely foreign and perceived hostile environment. And if s/he persists, take him to the nearest mosque for worship and invite him to evaluate his/her comfortability in that environment.
So, if your church is still engaging in this faux friendly practice, knock it off. Take it out of your order of worship today.