Church greeters are a vital part of your parish ministry and a successful greeter team can help grow your church. Greeting is an opportunity to express God’s love through Christ and to help set the tone before Mass for parishioners and guests.
1. Make a plan
People respond to leadership and are more likely to take this ministry seriously if you have a plan in place. Prepare a simple list of responsibilities for new greeters. Always smile, make eye contact, and provide welcoming gestures like opening the door for everyone. Provide examples on what to say when greeting parishioners and guests. Create a rotating schedule that makes it flexible and easy for volunteers to participate.
2. Share your vision
Greeting is a simple act, but one that can mean the difference between whether a visitor comes back next week or ever. Communicate with your team that you want everyone who visits your church to feel like they belong. Visitors should be greeted with warm smiles and welcoming gestures. Always refer to visitors as “guests” to follow the warm welcome approach.
3. Lead by example
Provide shadow training for new greeters. Team each new greeter with an experienced greeter during a Mass to help them learn how to put the simple list of responsibilities in action. Provide examples of preferred greeting phrases like:
If you haven’t seen the guest before, instead of asking “Are you new here?” say”I don’t think we’ve met yet, I’m John” or “It’s great to see you! Welcome.”
If you have seen the guest before say something like “Good morning Mary, good to see you again” or “Welcome Bob, it’s great to have you.” It’s ok if you can’t remember their name right away, what’s important is that people know that you are being actively inviting to them personally.
4. Seek out people who are naturally friendly
Identify people in your church who are naturally outgoing and personally ask them if they would use their gift to welcome people into God’s house.
5. Encourage one another
Any ministry can be discouraging at times, and greeting is no exception. Not everyone you talk to is going to be as friendly as you are and not everyone is going to come back. It’s important to take time to celebrate guests who return, share positive stories as a greeter, and encourage one another to keep up the good work.