Should Your Church Stop Having a Stand and Greet Time?

You never know what will strike a nerve in the blogosphere. A blog post I wrote Saturday went viral, and the comments, discussion, and debate are still taking place at that post.

It was really a simple article. I did a Twitter poll (not scientific, I assure you) asking first-time church guests what factors made them decide not to return. I listed the top ten in order of frequency.

The surprise factor was the number one issue. Many first-time guests really don’t like the time of stand and greet one another that some churches have. According to the Twitter responses and comments on the post, many guests really don’t like it, so much so that they will not return.

So what is it about this stand and greet time that many guests don’t like? Here are the seven most common responses, again listed in order of frequency.

  1. Many guests are introverts. “I would rather have a root canal than be subjected to a stand and greet time.”
  2. Some guests perceive that the members are not sincere during the time of greeting. “In most of the churches it should be called a stand and fake it time. The members weren’t friendly at all except for ninety seconds.”
  3. Many guests don’t like the lack of hygiene that takes place during this time. “Look, I’m not a germaphobe, but that guy wiped his nose right before he shook my hand.”
  4. Many times the members only greet other members. “I went to one church where no one spoke to me the entire time of greeting. I could tell they were speaking to people they already knew.”
  5. Both members and guests at some churches perceive the entire exercise is awkward. “Nowhere except churches do we have times that are so awkward and artificial. If members are going to be friendly, they would be friendly at other times as well. They’re not.”
  6. In some churches, the people in the congregation are told to say something silly to one another. “So the pastor told us to tell someone near us that they are good looking. I couldn’t find anyone who fit that description, so I left and didn’t go back.”
  7. Not only do some guests dread the stand and greet time, so do some members. “I visited the church and went through the ritual of standing and greeting, but many of the members looked just as uncomfortable as I was. We were all doing a required activity that none of us liked.”

There are some pretty strong comments at the other post, and not all of them are negative about a stand and greet time. But apparently many guests really don’t like the exercise.

Should churches that have a stand and greet time continue to do so? Is it more negative than positive, or vice versa? Does your church have this activity? How do you feel about it? I look forward to your responses.

Posted on November 3, 2014

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Karen Lark says on

    I find the meet and greet pretty empty. We do the same thing week after week and never interact with each other until the following week when we do the same thing again. If you want to participate; fine. But I don’t think I should be judged for not participating when it would make me feel like a hypocrite. I’m there for God – not for empty socialization.

  • cary wiik says on

    Always thought it rather interesting how when the Pastor or leader asks the audience to meet/greet someone you don’t know; you can go the same person week after week.

  • I go to church to worship God. I do not go into the sanctuary until your obnoxious entertainment music is over. Greeting others I could care either way. Do what you want to. I would rather spend my time being taught the word and prayer than even give man made rules on entertainment and etiquette in the service. Remember the service is entertainment driven until the sermon to emotionally work you up to reach into your pocket.

  • We do not go to church to socialize or to network. It’s only about me and God. This practice is cringeworthy, I agree.

  • If the Church insists on keeping the sign of peace, it should be done at the very begining of Mass. I personally find it completely distracting because it’s done during the most solemn part of the Mass, as the priest is in the middle of the Consecration, when all focus should be on the Altar. People talking and waving is really annoying. It should stop.

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