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Why We Don’t Have a Formal Greeting Time

greeting time

“Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (2 Corinthians 13:12)

That encouragement from 2 Corinthians is now obeyed in the form of “Stand and greet one another…” And we fulfill the obligations of Holy Writ in about two to three minutes at the beginning of our Sunday morning worship.

Well, we don’t. At Calvary we don’t have this formal greeting time. When I first came it was still there but we gave it the axe a few months even before the pandemic. There are a few strategic reasons for this.

What Do Visitors Say?

Many churches have this allotted time for the sake of visitors. After all, we don’t want to risk someone walking through our doors and not be greeted with a friendly face. What better way to assure this happens than to have a three to five minute time during the service to do just that.

But it doesn’t work. In fact, church health guru, Thom Rainer, found that almost 90% of guests were uncomfortable by the practice. (Source) It might be one of the reasons a visitor doesn’t come back to your church.

A Tale of 2 Churches

You roll into the Holiness Tabernacle of Good Will and Sanctimonious Saints a few minutes late. Thankfully, they still have a door greeter who seems only mildly perturbed by your tardiness. He points you to the sanctuary where you’re met by a brood of blue-haired Betty’s. They begrudgingly inch over and “welcome” you among their huddle.

It feels icy-cold around you but things warm up a bit when the congregation moves into joyful singing of their weekly reminders of what ole time religion ought to look like. After the song, Reverend Jenkins stands behind the pulpit, welcomes everyone and then encourages the greeting of those around you.

Hugs are shared. Stares turn into cackles and the cabal of blue-hairs crack a mile-wide smile. With the gumption of a young boy aggressively trying to win a prize at the carnival, their ring leader is suddenly concerned with you’re feeling welcome. Just as you are beginning to believe the façade, the song leader calls everyone out of fellowship and into the worship of the Almighty.

The service itself was quality. The time of worship through song was encouraging. You might even use a words like vibrant to describe it. The congregation seemed to come alive through song. And the preaching was top-shelf. God’s Word was faithfully preached and relevant application was made.

As the time of invitation wraps up and the sermon comes to a close, you stick around for awhile. Nobody come to say hi…well, there was that one little boy with peanut butter and jelly remnants on his face who gave you a shy wave…but other than that, nothing. You slip out the door knowing you’ll never be back.

Next Sunday you roll into The First Church of Holy Awkwardness about 10 minutes late. Well, whatever late means to these people. Worship already started but there are enough people in the foyer that you could create a quorum for a Baptist business meeting. But its not stale business these people are engaged in, but warm fellowship.

They call you over to their group with genuine smiles and warmth. They are interested in you, your family, your career, but more importantly your walk with Jesus. You’ve been here five minutes but it already feels a bit like home.