Maybe We Should Think Twice

From Pastor Todd . . . .

thinktwiceRecently a guest at Snow Hill and I were talking about church. He mentioned that the most awkward time in our services is the “Welcome Time.” Here are his observations.

1. Most just shake hands.

2. Few mention their names.

3. Guests don’t want to move around in a space in which they are unfamiliar. When they choose not to move around during the welcome, they stick out as much as if they were asked to remain seated while members stand.

Our conversation came on the heels of an article written by the President of Lifeway, Thom Rainer. He conducted an informal poll that showed a surprising result. The number one reason people consider NOT making a return,

Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.

Take some time to read the article here.

Evidently the article created quite the stir. Many, of course, defended the practice. I am sure some will read this and dismiss what Rainer discovered. Maybe we should think twice before ignoring what he learned. If we are really interested in hospitality, let’s not confuse what we do in a stand and greet time as hospitable, especially if guests do not take it that way.

Rainer followed up his post with another reflection in response to the conversation that developed from his post. Here is the link and here are his points,

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.”

Resistance often comes because “we” like the stand and greet time. But, if it communicates the opposite of our intent, maybe we indeed, should think twice about continuing this practice.

What are your thoughts?

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Jesus invites people into his life and his way. He takes what is and points to the new way of the Kingdom of God.  Come see what this journey is all about!

One way to think about the mission of Jesus - He calls into question the way things are and points to the way things may be in the Kingdom of God. 

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