On a weekend trip out of town, my wife and I decided to visit a church we’d heard about. This church was known for their dynamic pastor and worship services. We arrived on campus in time to attend a Sunday morning Bible study group before worship.
We walked into the foyer and guest center personnel greeted us and asked us to complete a form with basic information. After completing the paperwork, my wife and I were escorted to a class for adults in our age group. As we entered the room we discovered the only open seats were directly in front of the teacher — two seats where no one else in the group wanted to sit.
The Bible study had begun while we were still in the foyer completing the guest forms. Once in the classroom, no one offered us refreshments (everyone else in the class was drinking coffee and enjoying food) or provided us a copy of the Bible study material the class was using.
Following the Bible study a couple of members thanked us for visiting before hurrying out of the room. My wife and I were left to find the worship center on our own.
This experience caused me to examine how my Bible study group treats guests and members. One of the most important leader positions we have in our group is the group greeter!
1. Create a welcoming environment.
The group greeter (some may wish to refer to them as hosts/hostess) is responsible for greeting people as they arrive. But more than that, they are responsible for creating a warm, caring, and genuine atmosphere for friendship and fellowship. Look for a member (or couple) in your group who is out-going or who will introduce themselves to someone they don’t know. Look for someone who is genuinely friendly.
2. Save seats for guests.
Keep a couple of seats empty near the door or on the end of a row. These are seats guests will sit in if they enter after the group has started. The seats next to these chairs reserved for guests are where the group greeter(s) will sit.
3. Make introductions.
Greeters introduce the guests to the teacher/leader and to group members. It’s helpful if the greeter and group members are wearing name tags. We wear name tags to help guests know us when they attend.
4. Offer refreshments and make connections.
Greeters offer guests refreshments. My group greeters do not get anything to eat or drink until a guest enters. It’s easy for them to say, “I’m getting some coffee. How do you like yours? Or would you rather have water or juice?” In my experience, the guests often follow the greeter to the food and coffee area where they can meet members of the group.
5. Provide Bible study materials.
Once seated, the greeter provides guests with a copy of the personal study guide related to the ongoing Bible study curriculum being studied. This allows the guests to follow along and participate in the discussion with the rest of the group. If there are guest forms to complete the greeter can provide those at this time, also.
6. Invite and guide guests to worship.
Following the Bible study time, the greeters invite our guests to join them for worship. This allows our greeters to escort them to the worship center, and discreetly point out restrooms on the way. Don’t assume guests know the way from the classroom to the worship center.
7. Introduce the pastor.
Before or after the worship service the greeter introduces the guests to the pastor and other staff members as appropriate. Our pastor and staff really appreciate this because it makes follow-up on their part much easier as they can now place a name and face.
Your group greeters can be some of the most important people on your leadership team. Look for genuinely friendly people to take ownership of a ministry that does much to help guests feel at home and a part of your group.
Alan Raughton serves as adult ministry specialist at Lifeway. For 19 years Alan has trained Christian Educators and Adult Ministry leaders around the country. He especially enjoys training and coaching Adult Bible study leaders and Adult Ministry professionals. A student of history, Alan enjoys reading biographies and books on historical events. He has been married to his college sweetheart, Ruth, since 1980. They are the parents two grown children.