Sample from the book, “Church Greeter 101” being released October 8.
In my last congregation in Richmond, there was a gentleman who was always greeting visitors, and always bringing visitors.
He seemed to always be introducing people on Sundays and making sure they had their practical needs met.
He was a natural greeter.
He started serving at the entry door to our church and greeting everyone walking in the door. It’s easy for him to do so.
He was an easy one to recruit.
What to look for
People can be trained, but if you are just starting a greeting ministry or recruiting new greeters for your current ministry, start with the ‘easy ones.’
As you do recruiting, keep in mind that you may not want to simply accept ‘whosoever will.’
You want people who love this ministry of hospitality.
Look for a level of spiritual maturity.
Set some standards and challenge people to reach for them. Look for those who show natural warmth towards people, particularly your visitors. Look for those who clearly have an other oriented mindset.
I would suggest that you don’t only recruit those who have proven themselves as leaders in your congregation. Search for those who you think have potential as well. This will help you train up future leaders, perhaps train your replacement, and spread the joy of ministry around. You don’t want to overload existing leaders.
You will want to recruit those of good character and reputation. Visitors may know your greeters from seeing them around the town. Visitors might form an impression of your church based on where your greeter was seen a few days before. I can’t tell you how many laypeople have told me how important that is. In small towns, this may be more important than in larger more anonymous cities.
You’ll want people who have a history of modelling kindness and show a level of friendliness that seems pretty natural. You’ll also want to think about those whose hygiene habits make recruiting easy.
Specialized areas such as security and parking lot volunteers may need specialists with particular training in security or medicine.
If your church uses spiritual gifts inventories as part of the ministry, look for those who have the gift mix of a greeter.
These will give you a potential pool of volunteers to start with.
How to Personally Recruit New Greeters
Smaller churches may want to focus on the personal recruitment rather than relying on the bulletins and newsletters. I’ve talked with several coordinators that say announcements don’t work as effectively as personal contact in their ministry context.
Larger churches may find personal recruitment a time challenge, but sometimes the greeting coordinator will still notice someone with potential. This will supplement the normal recruiting channels they have.
1. Find the easy ones.
The first step in personal recruitment is to personally notice people who have a natural passion for saying hello.
Look for those who take the initiative to meet the stranger, who always seem to be approaching people, who seem to find small talk easy — these are the easiest ones to recruit.
2. Take them out for a cup of coffee
The second step for personal recruitment is to go beyond the Sunday morning hallway hopeful ask. Offer to take them out for a cup of coffee (or have a dessert at your house, whatever way you do stuff like this). Get out of the church environment and into a place where you can talk 1-1.
Share some of the ministry vision of hospitality and greeting. Share your vision of what you hope the greeting ministry will be and how important you feel it is to the work of the ministry. You’ll be able to communicate your passion as you talk about why you love this work, why you feel it’s important. This obviously goes way beyond the typical hallway hopeful ask: ‘can you be a greeter next week?’
During that kind of conversation, you’ll pick up on body language and verbal clues that will tell you if your invitee is catching on to the vision. You can adjust on the fly as you need.
3. Make a clear ask.
Thirdly, give them a clear ask. Ask them serve regularly in your ministry, but give them time to pray about your invitation. Present two options of how to serve in your greeting ministry (more than an initial two and that will likely give too many choices and thus no decision).
Some people will say yes right away, others will appreciate the space to pray and consider all the other obligations and scheduling that happens in their life. Call them back after a few days and ask them if they have decided.
During your conversation, you may detect a hesitation. Sometimes that is rooted in not being sure what to do and being a little embarrassed over not knowing what to say or how to act. Make sure you mention that you offer training to help them grow in their skill and comfort factor. This will help the potentially nervous greeter get on board with your work by answering an unspoken objection that is likely there.
Let me ask you this.
How do you personally recruit greeters for your ministry?
(I’m not talking about impersonal steps like announcements or begging from the front, depending on your perspective).