Church Greeter Ninjas by Stewart Conkle
I was raised in a very big, very popular, traditional church in Atlanta. As a child, I remember going to BIG church for the first time. I was in awe. The auditorium was cavernous. It was ornately decorated. The lighting fixtures that hung from the ceiling were gold and shiny. The carpet was burnt orange, and the choir members wore baby blue robes that really made the two colors pop.
The greeters at this church were mostly elderly people. The women wore long dresses. Usually with flower prints. The men all wore three-piece suits and heavy cologne. (Possibly a musk of some sort, an Old Spice perhaps.) That’s how it used to be.
Churches have changed drastically over the years. The older, traditional churches are becoming more rare. The men and women who greet you at the door, dressed to the nines, are all but gone.
The greeters of today are like highly trained, very friendly covert ninjas. They dress to look like you and I. They prefer t-shirts and denim instead of fancy suits. They wear Chuck Taylors instead of penny loafers. In short, they blend in. Becoming one with the crowd because that’s what ninjas do.
They are always mindful of visitors because first impressions go a long way. There is a subtlety to what they do. They want to make you feel at home, but they don’t want to smother you. They want to give you the answers you seek, but they don’t want to overload you with info. Their senses are keen, and they have eyes like an eagle. They can see a first-time visitor when they pull into the parking lot. Here are three things that give first-timers away.
1. First-timers are bewildered.
Greeter ninjas can see it in our eyes. We first-timers are looking for something but not sure what. Our eyes dart around randomly. We aren’t sure where to go or what to do. This is where the greeter ninja has to act fast. Timing is crucial. Every second I’m lost as a first-time visitor equates to another reason why I won’t come back. It can be a traumatic time for first-timers, and the greeter has to be our rock.
2. First-timers often come in packs.
No one wants to visit an unfamiliar place alone. First-time visitors often recruit a support group. Family. Friends. Random people in the parking lot. For the greeter ninja, the pack is easy to spot. We clump up and move together like a school of fish. We all have the same mindset. Just like point number one, if one of us is bewildered, then we’re all bewildered. Again, it’s crucial that the greeter ninja acts fast when they see the pack in distress.
3. First-timers are rarely on time.
There are a myriad of reasons why I might be late the first time I visit your church. It’s sometimes on purpose. I’m not sure of how the church worships and that creates anxiety. Do they do the hands in the air thing, or do they sit and sing softly so that no one can hear their voice? Do they sing songs they know, or do they sing the new song that is ten minutes long, has 12 verses, and was written by the worship pastor? Those are all valid points. However, greeters rarely get the set list in advance. Sorry. You’re on your own there kid.
The biggest reason we first-timers are late is that we get lost in the labyrinth of cones and cars in the parking lot. If I’m not careful, I’ll circle the parking lot for eternity. This is where our parking lot greeter ninjas come in. Acting quickly, they giftedly guide and direct first-timers, one car load at a time.
We have all been first-time visitors. The greeter ninjas know how you feel. They know both the stress and the excitement of visiting a new church. Keep in mind that they, the greeters, are there for you. In the shadows. Ready to assist when the moment arrives.
Does your church have greeters?