Greeters – A Spiritual Reflection
According to Father Michael White, Pastor of Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD, one of the most effective things a parish can possibly do to grow a healthy parish is easy to get started, not particularly demanding when it comes to maintenance, and, best of all, is free:
Fr. White goes on to say:
There are lots of reasons people give us for how they found their way to our church, but far and away the number one reason newcomers tell us they come back to our church is the hospitality. Admittedly that gets played out in a number of ways in our weekend experience, but the most impactful way is often that simple smile and friendly greeting at the door. It makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the unchurched persons feelings as they step into your church.
The best greeters in the world can only support parishioner “at-tee-tude” which is likewise pleasant, reverent, engaged, welcoming and encouraging. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression on someone who is hesitatingly and perhaps fearfully coming back to St. Monica for the first time in a long time.
If you visit other churches and notice certain “practices “ or habits that impress you or make a positive impression, let us know. Perhaps we can incorporate them here at St. Monica. Or – better yet – offer to help train or contact our greeters with this idea yourself. You can probably best export the enthusiasm you felt through this practice to your fellow parishioners.
Form your own buddy-system! Consider teaming up with family or friends with whom you regularly attend Mass and forming you own team of greeters. Teams work best for greeting ministry. It makes the effort more fun, creates a culture of collaboration and lessens the burden on individuals. The rotation helps ministers keep a fresh perspective and avoid burnout.
Whether you are an “official” greeter or not, parishioners need to treat greeting and welcoming as a major ministry of the church (…because it is!). Churches that are highly effective in retaining first-time guests understand the importance of this ministry.