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.
- Many guests are introverts. “I would rather have a root canal than be subjected to a stand and greet time.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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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The Peace is a liturgical act based on Matthew 5:23-24. It is proper preparation for receiving Communion, not a social time. Thanks.
I belong to a small Baptist church in MS. We stopped doing this for a while. Everyone claimed they missed it so we don’t do it every Sunday but maybe once a month. One of the reasons we brought it back was because usually sit in the back and when service is over they rub out that sanctuary door. They are afraid someone will greet them. They could have chosen to be at any number of churches in the area but they chose ours – they are our honored guests. I sing in the choir loft and am known to get out of there and go mingle. I hope we never stop it again altogether. . We are supposed to be worshipping and be sharing in fellowship together or so says my Bible.
Leave the meet and greet time out of the worship service. Leave it for the fellowship hall. Also, it’s unfortunate we feel we have to treat adults like children.
Not trying to stir the pot, sometimes I feel that we are bending over backwards trying to make newcomers feel welcome by leaving everything that’s Church & Us behind. Do not Greet, it may make the newcomer feel out of place; let them eat & drink in the Sanctuary, because they don’t know better- and it will clean up; Newcomers can wear pajamas, God doesn’t mind; toss most the hymns out , they like repetitive songs and liturgy well…
Pretty soon church members leave because we won’t recognize church.
When has the balance been done. When does the Pastor become a teaching elder?
When did manners leave the church. Welcoming newcomers can be updated there is no doubt, but reverence to God never goes out.
Maybe the solution is closer than ever. How about let’s just all stay home and watch the service? Then I won’t have to ever see anyone, talk to anyone, respond in any way. I won’t have to sing, or stand, give, pray or any of those things that I don’t feel like doing. Church should be comfortable in every way. Do you like the people that sit around you? I don’t. So why should I speak with them. I’m here for me—not them. And after all, that’s the main thing Jesus is interested in: my comfort.
This post was extremely helpful.
Just curious, how many responses did you receive in this Twitter poll? And do you know how many different churches were “rated” in this survey?
Often on the road, I am quite familiar with ‘stand and greet.’ However, this always comes across as nice, yet shallow. Those who have the love of God in their hearts should be deeply profound as they communicate about substance. I challenge all pastors reading this to move ‘stand and greet’ to immediately after the service. Just try it out for one service. There would be time to meet someone new, or one who is less known, and possibly move from perfunctory chat to talk which is relational. I have yet to see this done, but wonder how much Christian community would be built if worshippers were encouraged to greet when they actually had time to converse.
Great article. I despise the meet and greet.
That is what the greeters are for when members and guest step in the front, side or back door.
Away with it (the stand and greet time)