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When visitors and church members walk through the door of the church, church greeters are the first people they see. And believe it or not, what people see first is what they believe they will continue to see. Even though the worship hasn't started yet, they have received, through you, a glimpse of what is to come.

You are an ambassador of the Most High God to His people, and you need to look and act your best because you are standing in His behalf. Colossians 3:17 (TLB) admonishes us saying, "And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus."

In a very real way, you are also an extension of your pastor and his wife. You may be thinking to yourself, "If being a greeter is such an important position, then shouldn't the pastor and his wife be the ones to greet the people as they enter into the church?" But, as you and I know, the pastor and his wife can't be everywhere at once.

If they had to greet everyone who walked through the door, the church service wouldn't start on time. Not only that, but the pastor wouldn't have the opportunity to still his mind and spirit before coming out to preach.

So that is why they have asked you and me to assist them. Just by being a greeter, you help the pastors fulfill the vision that God has given to them.

Follow the Leader in Attire
As far as dress is concerned, I use this simple rule of thumb with my greeters: follow the examples of your pastor and his wife. If you pastor always seems to wear a suit and tie at the Sunday morning service, then the men should wear a suit and tie if they are greeting at the doors. If your pastor's wife is wearing a dress, then the ladies should wear dresses.

If on Wednesday nights, the pastor wears an open color shirt, and he does this quite often, then I think it is okay for the men to wear open collar shirts. If the wife comes in a pantsuit outfit or slacks, then I think the women should feel free to wear pantsuits and slacks.

You may say, "But Brother Bell, our pastor's wife wears a new dress every week and gets her hair done all the time." Well, then you ought to have a new dress every week and get your hair done all the time, too!

Now, all of you ladies might be saying, "Amen," about now and all of you men, "Oh, my!"

But seriously, whether or not you carry it to that extent, do remember that you are representing the pastor and his wife and, as a greeter, you should follow their example when it comes to your attire.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
One time one of my greeters said, "Brother Bell, I want chapter and verse on why I have to wash my hands before I go to the door to greet people." I said, "Great! Turn to Second Corinthians 7:1. Notice that it says here, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh."

In other words, "wash your hands!" Of course, I was just kidding with her, but there is some truth in what I'm saying here.

Now, some people don't need to be told to wash their hands, but some people do. Please understand that, most of the time, it isn't their fault, that is the way they were raised. I can talk about people like this because at one time in my life I was one of them.

I remember when I came to church for the first time. I was a farm boy from Illinois who had a high school education. I didn't have running water or an inside bathroom until I got married. I didn't own a suit, and I only took a bath once a week because I would always have to heat up two hot kettles and pour them into the old steel tub hanging out on the porch along with one cold kettle in order to bathe myself. It was quite a task.

As far as mouthwash was concerned, I didn't even know what it was. I remember the first time that I came to church and listened to someone go over the guidelines for being a greeter which included using mouthwash. I remember thinking to myself, "How do you wash your mouth?" It just didn't register with me.

Thank God, they didn't single me out. If they had singled me out and said, "Brother, you need to use a little mouthwash," my first response would have been, "What is mouthwash? And why are you telling me this?" I might have been hurt and left the church altogether.

It is usually easier to help a person in a group than it is to single them out Eventually I figured out what mouthwash was, and I began to use it. It changed me and made a better person out of me. Now I use mouthwash all of the time and take a bath every day (aren't you glad?). I own more than one suit and tie and have discipline in my life.

I didn't have discipline in my life at that time. Now I'm so disciplined that one person asked me if I stack my change at night before I got to bed. Of course, my response was, "Doesn't everybody? Quarters go on quarters, dimes on dimes, nickels on nickels and pennies on pennies."

None of these changes came about in my life until I became involved in my church and was given some guidelines. Guidelines are important. I recognized that I needed to follow the guidelines as they were given if I wanted to serve where I believed God wanted me to serve.

After I began to follow their guidelines, I noticed that more people held longer conversations with me. More people had more fellowship time because I was now using mouthwash and wearing underarm deodorant! I even got to the point that I would carry breath mints around with me or one of those little spray bottles.

Do an Attitude Check
Not only is your appearance important but so is your attitude. The person walking in the door thinks that your attitude is the attitude of the pastor and his wife.

If you have a bad attitude when you greet someone, they may approach the sanctuary thinking, "If this is the attitude at the door, then this must be the attitude at the pulpit. And if this is the attitude of the minister who is ministering the Word of God, I'm going to have a hard time receiving from this church. So, maybe I'd better go somewhere else."

This poor soul hasn't even made it into the sanctuary yet, and already they are thinking about turning around and walking out the door after having met you.

Your attitude and the spirit in which you receive people has a lot to do with how they will receive from the minister during the service. If you are in a bad mood and you pass that on to others as you are greeting, then they won't be able to receive what they need to receive.

So if you have cares and strife, leave them outside the church door when you come in and stir up the peace and joy of God within you instead so you can be a blessing to those you welcome. One church I visited had a unique idea to help remind them of this very thing.

They fixed up a trash can for the greeters and placed it just outside the church door. On the trash can was a little sign that said, "Place All Cares and Strife Here." So when the greeters arrived at church and saw that trash can, they were reminded to leave their cares and their strife outside.

Now I am not suggesting that every church get a trash can and put it outside of their church door, but I am suggesting that when you as greeters walk through those doors that you have some way of checking out your attitude.

If you notice one of the other greeters seems to be a little down this week, then sincerely ask them how they are doing. Sometimes just the simple act of listening can help to life another person's burden.

Or you may want to address it more indirectly and just give that person a hug or a smile and let them know that they are loved regardless of what they may have faced that previous week. Maybe just a short prayer with that person will be all that is required to help them make the necessary adjustment in their attitude before going to the door.

Of course, the person you are totally responsible for is yourself. So make sure when you enter that church door that you have done whatever is necessary to have the kind of attitude that would be uplifting and encouraging to someone else.

I am saying all of this not to be negative or harsh, but to impress upon you how vitally important you and your ministry are to the church and to those that God brings to the church. First impressions are critical, and your appearance and attitude can make the difference between someone being drawn closer to God or being pushed further away.

Source: Greeting 101 by Buddy Bell
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Dr. Buddy Bell
Web site: Ministry of Helps International
"A Pastor's Friend" Since 1977, Dr. Buddy Bell has been serving pastors and families in the local church. Because of his faithfulness and commitment to serve, God has anointed him to teach on the Ministry of Helps.

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