Have you ever entered a church and felt invisible? It probably happens more often than we would care to acknowledge. Having a greeter ministry in your church is extremely important, and having greeters who are willing to step out of their comfort zone to strike up a conversation with strangers is invaluable.
I attend Crossroads Community Church in Chilliwack, B.C. where my husband Ernie and I are part of the greeting ministry. At Crossroads, which meets in a school, we enter the building in the cafeteria area where we have coffee, tea and hot chocolate available for our folks to enjoy. On the first Sunday in our greeter rotation we are on “floating” duty where we keep an eye out around this cafeteria room for people who are newer to the congregation and aren’t engaged in conversation with anyone. I have to admit it takes me out of my comfort zone to talk to people I don’t know, but I value the importance of making sure people feel welcome when they come to church.
On the second Sunday of our rotation we greet at the door and hand out bulletins. It is on this Sunday that we greet everyone who comes to church that day and converse with many of them. We also make sure new people are connected to a floater who can show them around, directing them to the coffee stations and/or the Sunday School area should they have children with them.
The greeting doesn’t just extend to new people, but also to our regular attendees. Everyone needs to feel welcome and you never know when a simple friendly gesture can make a difference in someone’s day that perhaps just didn’t start out right. Being a greeter has helped me to get to know the people in the church, especially those who are not in my age bracket.
At Crossroads, in our desire to get to know our church community better, we just embarked on putting together a photo directory. I’m involved in coordinating the photo sessions. What an absolute privilege this has been. I get to meet and talk to each Crossroads family as they come for their photo session. I consider myself quite lucky to be helping out with this task.
Like many churches, Crossroads also has potluck Sundays. Many of us bring food in crock pots which get plugged in before the service, and when the service is finished we all sit down together and have lunch. This also is a great relationship-building time.
The key in all of these connection points is that I have to leave my comfort zone and go sit with and talk to people I don’t normally talk to. People stay in a particular congregation if they have built relationships with people, so let’s make sure everyone in our congregation is connected and in relationship with someone else in the congregation. Be on the lookout on Sunday mornings and strike up a conversation with someone who is new or looks like they’re alone.
Janette Thiessen is the office administrator of Mennonite Church B.C.