I may get some heat on this topic. It may get me put in the boiling pot, lol… But every Sunday I say the same thing to myself when I go to church. We have what’s called “Meet and Greet” time. Basically people stand up after the announcements and they greet each other and then are suppose to sit down when the music starts.
Now, the reason I have been thinking on this is because it is hard to get the attention of those around to sit for the service to begin. Everyone is standing and talking along the walls, in the middle and just visiting. There have been times when I have needed to get to other areas of the church and found it impossible to get past everyone. Good thing I didn’t have to go potty or have an emergency. And there have been times I needed to get to the restrooms and that was not going to happen since it was blocked in all directions. It can get pretty loud in the sanctuary when you have 100 people talking and trying to get back to their seats. It could actually dangerous in some ways if there was an emergency.
My way of thinking is this. So bear with me and I know many will think it is a horrible thing to do away with or modify this part of the service. We have Sunday School from 9:30-10:30 am. Our church begins at 11:00 am. Between Sunday School and the Worship Service we have Fellowship Time. That’s where there is goodies and people visit with each other as they prepare for the Worship Service.
Around 10:50 am people that are where the Fellowship time is moves to the sanctuary. As people come in, they make their way to their seats and visit with those around them or those they haven’t seen. Service is about to begin now and the pastor and the lay leader go to the front. We then have announcements and the Meet and Greet… OK! Now this is where people may think I lost it. Why in the world do we have to have meet and greet if they are visiting before church and as they are sitting down? Not only do they mingle during the before and meet and greet times, they do after the service. I sometimes wonder if it is more of a social hour instead of a time of worship. I know it must be me, but seems chaotic to me.
I know most churches do this and people love the meet and greet time. But it seems to me just by observing that it is difficult to get people to sit down and stop talking. I know that many of the people at church only get a chance to see their friends and such on just Sundays. But for Pete’s sake, it gets out of control.
Now I always have things reeling in my brain. This is no different. I wonder if they put the meet and greet before the announcements while people are still in high gear and wanting to chat, then maybe it would be less disruptive and come to order easier. I wonder how many actually hear the music starting and the singers singing because of all the noise and talking. I’m all for visiting and catching up. But it seems to me that we are there to Worship God and be in His presence.
We have a fairly newer pastor which is awesome. Like most new pastors they like to change things up and they each have their own style. He may be figuring out that I can be a person that stirs the pot, lol. People may shanghai him if he got rid of the Meet and Greet time, but personally I think they get a lot of time and opportunities to talk and meet each other.
Speaking of our pastor and I’m probably guessing when he reads this he is shaking his head, and wondering what I’m doing. There is another opportunity for people to meet and greet and that is as the pastor and his wife goes to the Narthex and greets each person as they leave the church. As people are waiting to leave, they are visiting then too. Like I said, I’m guilty of this myself. I am a gabby person.
I think about when I visit a new church and while I love visiting new churches, I hate being put on the spot. I look over the bulletin to see the order of their service and I notice they have a time to welcome new comers. I dread this time of the service. They ask if there are any new people and if you don’t raise your hand or stand up, they point you out. This has actually stopped me from going to churches a second time. I don’t like being singled out and I don’t like being put on the spot. I actually feel sorry for people when they are put on the spot like that. And if they don’t stand up and they are called out. I know that sounds bad, but otherwise pointed out that they are new, all eyes are on them.
I have no problem raising my hand if they want to give me a new comers packet or those around me introducing themselves. But not all people are into the whole swarming over ya like a swarm of bees. You can see it in their eyes that they are headed your way. There has to be a better way to welcome newcomers to church without making them feel like they are on display. Once I get to know others, then I have no problem with them. But not all people are huggy squeezy kind of people. When they go to church, they want to worship, listen and go on their way.
I did like it how my church did it when we lived in Arizona. We had a Meet and Greet time. But we stayed where we were and just greeted those around us. If someone was new, then during the announcements they would be welcomed and given a first visitor packet. For those we wanted to talk to personally, we would talk to before the service or after the service. It was less distracting and safer. All I can imagine is one of our seniors with walkers or canes go crashing to the ground and nobody can get to them and you can’t hear then yell for “HELP”. I know this may be extreme, but you never know what can happen. We have a lot of seniors in our church and this last Sunday it seemed like a stampede down the aisle and everyone trying to get seated. Not cool to have a stampede of people at church when there are handicapped people trying to sit down. Bad IMAGE in my brain!
Personally speaking, it can be overwhelming to have a swarm of people that have you targeted in their eye-site when you are new. I feel bad for those who are trying to do the “Call to Worship” because nobody hears them…
We have a overly friendly and loving church. During the meet and greet it can take some time. And that is because people (myself included) get gabby. We want to catch up and say hi to everyone and welcome the newcomers. Some churches even have the Meet and Greet for newcomers and for those that want to take part right after church. This is actually pretty awesome. Instead of overwhelming the newcomers, you have snacks and drinks that would be also available like during the fellowship time and give them a chance to meet the pastor and his wife and others who would like to participate. That way if they have questions about the church, they can meet on a more intimate level. I have been to these and they allow for some awesome opportunities for the newcomers and the church. Some churches also have a newcomers lunch where those who are on the Welcome Team (which we don’t have) take part in. But those on that team would be at the luncheon and all newcomers that have been coming during that month or would like more information can attend.
Having a time of welcoming can easily become something we dread and want no part of, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Meeting and greeting those around us can be a wonderful time to connect to those in the church. I do have to say our church is great at this and the people are awesome when it comes to being genuine and sincere to those who have been there a long time or to those that are newcomers. You will for sure be leaving as a friend and as a family member.
When we first came to St. George Community Church, there was this lady Kathy Grey that shook our hand and introduced herself to us. What she did next was what I think is a perfect way to get to know those who are in our church or new. She invited me and my daughters to lunch and since we didn’t know the area, she drove us around town. That made a lasting impression on my family. It meant a great deal to us. I hated the that I had to stand up and introduce ourselves and say where we came from. But what Kathy did. This small gesture is something we all can do.