Back in my single days, I taught a single adult Bible study class made up of men and women of all ages that enjoyed digging into and discussing Scripture with me every week. I learned a lot about leading a small group Bible study and shared some of what I learned via a blog I created dedicated to the subject. This post is a refresh of a post that appeared on that blog.
Have you ever noticed that if you say hi to someone first, they’ll usually say hi back? It’s just a matter of making the first move. And I have to say that I love for people to say hi to me. It makes me feel like they noticed me and thought that I was significant enough to acknowledge.
We want to make sure that every person that attends our small group Bible studies feels noticed and significant.
The best way to do this is to designate at least one person as a greeter. It’s nice to think that the entire room will welcome each person that walks in with heartfelt hellos, but the truth is that people get caught up in conversations and don’t want to be pulled away. And that’s ok, because isn’t that part of the reason that we attend small group studies? Designated greeters allow people to focus on catching up while also ensuring that new arrivals get the attention they deserve.
Now let’s look at the details.
Anyone can be a greeter, as long as they have an attitude to help. One of the first things that I ever did to help in a Sunday School class was server as a greeter, and I’m not exactly a social butterfly or belle of the ball. As a matter of fact, I’ve noticed that many groups look for extroverts to serve as greeters, but I think that can be a mistake. As an introvert, I sometimes feel like backing away when welcomed by an overly enthusiastic greeter at the door of a church or small group, so there may be people that appreciate a calm hello from a more introverted greeter.
The bottom line is that, whether introverted or extroverted, anyone can serve as a greeter as long as they have an attitude of helpfulness and are willing to work at doing their best in this very important role.
Greeters should be ready to receive people at least 15 minutes before the official group start time. It’s important to keep in mind that visitors usually show up early because they’re trying to give themselves enough time to find their way. I once showed up at a Toastmasters meeting (that I was visiting for the first time) around ten minutes before it started, and I was the first person there besides the guy setting up. I felt awkward and in the way, which is the opposite of how we want our guests to feel. We want visitors to feel welcome and as if we were waiting for them.
This depends on the type of small group. If your small group meets at the church, the greeters should stand outside the classroom door. This way they see everyone walking down the hallway and can help along those that are a little shy to come in. I even had a greeter once that noticed visitors wandering the halls looking lost and encouraged them to come join us in class. Now that’s a good greeter!
Many churches like to have home groups because they feel it’s a more intimate environment than meeting in a church building. And that’s true for established groups. But visitors may feel awkward going to someone’s home for the first time, especially if they don’t know anyone in the group yet. It somehow feels like an invasion of personal space. For that reason, it’s especially important that greeters welcome new attendees to a home-based group and help them feel at home. For that reason, the greeter should remain close enough to the door to hear a knock or to notice people coming in.
- Greeters should smile, say hi, and look the person in the eye. People want to feel like they’ve been seen, especially in church or a Bible study setting.
- If your group distributes an announcement sheet or other handout, you may want to give those to the greeter to give out as people enter.
- If meeting in a home, greeters should make sure that first-time attendees know where the restroom is and direct them to the refreshments.
- Greeters may want to introduce first-time attendees to at least one regular attender that has agreed to make visitors feel welcome. For this reason, you may want to have two designated greeters so that the door is always manned if one of the greeters steps away.
- There may be a few minutes between people showing up, giving the greeters a chance to chat. It’s great to catch up with someone that we may have not seen all week, but the greeters shouldn’t be so lost in their conversation that they’re not paying attention to people walking in.
- Greeters should stay at the door for at least the five minutes after the official start time of the group to welcome late arrivals. If you structure your group time to give announcements before the lesson, this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Although many visitors arrive early, some arrive really late. So the greeters should be ready to jump up and welcome into the group any really late arrivals, making sure they have the handouts and a place to sit.
The point is to make people feel like they are welcomed and wanted.
Do you have any tips for ways to greet group members?