Five Common Greeter Mistakes to Correct in the New Year

I guess I’m a bit picky here

If your church has a greeter ministry, it’s already ahead of most churches. I should just be grateful you have such a ministry.

But you do want it to improve, right?

Greeter ministries, like any other ministries, can get in a rut. And since we are about to greet a new year, let’s have an honest conversation about how to begin a new year with some improvements in your greeter ministry.

Here are the five most common greeter ministry mistakes. The good news is they are all easily correctable.

  1. Greeters who only converse with people they know. Sure, they will give a perfunctory “hello” to those they see, but many only have conversations with those they know. Sometimes greeters spend most of their time talking to one another. A great greeter strikes up a conversation with someone he or she does not know.
  2. Failure to have greeters in the worship center before services begin. This issue is commonplace. What happens when guests arrive to attend services? They usually go sit down and wait for the services to begin. With no one speaking to them. With no one seated by them. I will expand on this issue in an upcoming post.
  3. Combining the greeter function with the person who hands out bulletins/worship folders. Greeters just have to be free to greet! They can’t greet and converse if they are busy handing out a bulletin to each passerby.
  4. Greeters who fail to introduce themselves. It’s not a true greeting unless the greeter takes time to introduce himself or herself to a number of people. But what if the person receiving the greeting is a long-term member? You know, I’ve never known members to get mad because someone is making an effort to get to know them better.
  5. Failure to have greeters in place after the services have begun. Guests will be late. They may never have been to your church before. They may have had problems getting the kids ready. They may have underestimated the travel time. Sometimes we have asked “secret guests” to be 10 minutes late to a service intentionally. Nearly three-fourths of the time, there is absolutely no one there to greet them for their late arrival.

Yes, greeters can make a big difference in how guests perceive your church. I am grateful many of your churches have greeters. I am even more grateful when you strive for excellence with these ambassadors of hospitality.

Let me hear from you.

Posted on January 4, 2017

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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  • Sharleen Lawton says on

    I have been going to church all my life, and it occurred to me on Sunday afternoon, as I was thinking about my attendance at church that morning, and how “greeters” are really a “new” ministry.
    When I was growing up you went to church to worship the Lord, pray for yourself and others and listen to a message, sing some praises, then go to Sunday or vice versa. Any “greeting” that was done was very informal in the parking lot or on the street on the way into the building. Once you were inside talking and chatting was very minimal and usually a whisper. Not sure what the motivation is with all the “greeting”. I think it’s a distraction the church doesn’t really need.
    Just my thoughts from over 50 years attending church.

  • I really liked this little article. I would like to use it in our school’s publication which is freely available at Can I change “And since we are about to greet a new year..” to “As we greet this new year..”?

    Also I would like to leave out one sentence which reads well in your blog, but for reprint may not work as well. That sentence is: “I will expand on this issue in an upcoming post.”

    I apologize for being so forward in these requests. But would really appreciate your permission to use this article with those two tweaks. You can let me know here or contact me at [email protected]. Of course we would give proper attribution.

    Ken Farmer (Managing Editor, The God’s Revivalist)

  • Sharon Kelley says on

    I am Volunteer Coordinator for our church. We have the first greeters in our parking lots, then the next layer is our golf cart drivers who give rides when wanted, then our door greeters and greeters “at large” whose job it is to specifically look for “guests”, then those that are staged at the “Welcome Center”, and finally those who hand out bulletins. I will look at adding the W/C greeter. I am challenged to increase my training. One thing I have learned: As a greeter: Do not ask “Are you a member?” but rather “How long have you been coming to First Baptist”. The guest is happy to reply that they are new and you do not offend the long time member because they are happy to tell you they were baptized here thirty year ago.

  • I’m not sure about #3. Our church has a “welcome team” who stand on the door and greet people as they come in – which does not exactly facilitate in-depth conversation, as there’s usually a lot more people waiting to come in behind. Then there’s another set of people who hand out the bulletins. For a visiting introvert who just wants to come in and sit down without a lot of pointless interactions I’m not sure it’s the best model. I’ve often thought it would be better to combine the two.

    Though if you do have greeters who actually are able to have proper conversations with people rather than hurried small talk before the next family come in, then keeping them separate from the bulletin people is indeed sensible.

  • I get it. Yes, greeters should be taking some pointers….but really, some of the comments here calling them a “Church Ambassador”? Really? “First Impression Ministries”?

    Pointers on how to talk to people? Don’t people learn this at home, in school, in college? Don’t they learn this by coming to church, or being involved with anything in life…including work?

    What just happened to old an fashioned “Hello” with a smile, a handshake, a “welcome to our church / meeting / service” hand them a program if your church uses one, and point to the sanctuary and say, “if you need any help finding anything just ask!”

    We’re reinventing the wheel at times fellow Christians and sometimes…our ideas, with good intentions come off as “rehearsed” and “phony” to the world that we want to bring in! They see this. They notice it.

    We should be genuine, approachable, and willing to talk to new people………

    That’s it. We don’t need a whole workshop, committee, planning, and execution committee / team to do something that everyone should be doing…even if you are not a greeter. Someone you don’t know sits near you……introduce yourself.

    We’re so “ministerized” in too many churches today with “that’s his / her ministry, not mine” and “that’s the ushers ministry” or “this committee handles that, and I do (insert ministry)”

    Yet, every church will still say “but, but we welcome and accept anyone and tell them to come as they are”

    If this is the case, why on earth do we need “education” and “training” on HOW to greet someone????? How to welcome them?

    Church, we look so fake to the world because most of us are……..I am trying to help here but ‘nice’ talk doesn’t register with any of you.

  • Mary Ann Gifford says on

    I agree with Matthew. Shaking hands or touching someone on the shoulder may be the only touch that person has during the week. Be ready for those who want a hug. Lots of people need them and look forward to them. Saying Welcome and we are so glad you are here is for both current members and visitors. Smiles are contagious. Welcoming people joyfully should be the beginning of their worship experience.. The greeters should have incentive to do this and the others in church can learn to follow this example.

  • All the points are very to the point. A couple of comments:

    Even if you have the best greeter ministry in the world, unless the rest of the church is welcoming, you are wasting your efforts. Greeting/welcoming is an all-church activity.

    Secondly, welcoming is not just for new people. Some of the loneliest people in churches are those who have come faithfully for their whole life, but don’t seem to have made any close friends. They sit alone, in the corners by themselves, arrive and leave without ever talking to someone. Often they are the awkward ones who don’t seem to fit in. They’re the ones we need to greet and welcome in most of all.

    • I like Dave and Matthew’s suggestions. We are a small Church and as a Greeter I try to immediately introduce newcomers to one of the Elders or Deacons if they are in the area otherwise to anyone who is in the area. After church I do see people talking to the newcomers if they don’t sit in the back and escape first. Therefore it would be good to have someone in the back to catch them. That can also go for the people who do not get a lot of attention. There always is the problem of people wanting to talk to you while we are greeting which is great in a lull but sometimes it is hard to catch people coming in the door during that time.
      I don’t hug newcomers but don’t mind hugs from my Church Family.
      Oh yes at 81, I still open the doors and help people in.

  • I am about to enter my first pastorate. I have served in student ministry for a few years. Thank you for all of your blog’s and podcast. They have so much information that can truly help us all do a better job being the hands and feet of Jesus.

  • Dave Dollar says on

    I would actually add a sixth. We should also include after the service when people are leaving. I think of it as being a good host in our home. We wouldn’t think of letting a visitors in our home leave without wishing them well and saying “y’all come back”.


  • This may seem like a small thing, but can be problematic in resolving . . . some greeters (even pastors) aren’t aware of their really bad breath. Others have an unpleasant “tobacco aura.” It may seem trivial, but it can be offensive to newcomers.

  • Hello!
    I have been in ministry over 30 years. I’d be glad to help any church revamp their First Impression Ministry! I have been trained by MLB, Major Hotels and Larger Churches. #weareinthistogether

  • Joyce Martin says on

    In addition to a successful greeters ministry, our home church has welcome cards in all the pews. Each card has a small embroidered rose with instructions to remove the rose and attach it to their clothing where it can be plainly visible. (Doesnt leave sticky film or mark either). It gives members an opportunity to identify & greet visitors after the worship also. Many people have more time to become aquainted after worship.
    This is very helpful in a church with a membership of 3,000 +

    • Hello! I have a background in guest services with major hotels, MLB stadiums, and larger churches. I’d be available to give help/assistance to any church wanting to implement a revamped First Impression Ministry/Greeter/Usher Ministry! #weareinthistogether

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