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Tonight I was reminded about the importance of greeters in our ministry.  They are literally the “front-line” of our church. Every Sunday, they are the first faces seen, the first voices heard, and the first impression left on regular attendees and first-time families.  Given the magnitude of their role, we need to evaluate the message that we’re sending (or not sending) through our greeting team.

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Meet Willie. Or as he’s known around these parts, “Willie the Wal-Mart Greeter.”  (And yes, that’s his name on Facebook.) Tonight I watched as Willie did his job, and I was filled with ideas and inspiration.  Willie is a living legend because of his role as greeter at our local Wal-Mart.  Here’s why…

When you walk into the store, a seemingly mild-mannered man greets you.  As you get closer, he holds out his arm with hand clinched in a fist.  As your fist bumps his, he lets out the loudest “BAM” that you will ever hear.  Then he smiles a HUGE smile and says, “All right now…my man!”  As you continue walking, you hear that greeting repeated over and over to the customers coming and going.  When you’re in the very last aisle of the store, you can still here his greetings resonating over everything else. 

Here are a few things I learned from Willie that I think are transferable to greeters in ministry areas:

Willie is always smiling.
I’ve never seen him in a bad mood.  People enter frustrated, stressed, lonely—but they are instantly cheered on by the greetings from Willie.
Do our greeters understand the emotions and stresses that people are dealing with when coming to church?  How are we preparing them to counteract those emotions and prepare people for worship?


Willie is always stationed at the same entrance.
You can’t miss him.  He is always working the same entrance, the same hours, the same days.  People will intentionally park on that side of the store so that they can be greeted by Willie.
Do we promote consistency in our greeter team in the same way that we do so in our small groups ministry?  Why would it look like if we did?


Willie is always “on.”
Willie doesn’t let anyone pass without a greeting.  He doesn’t take a break from greeting or get caught up talking with other employees.  He knows that his job is to greet everyone entering the store, and he makes sure that he does his job. There can be 60 people walking in at the same time, and Willie will make sure that each of them get a personal greeting.  He does the same for those leaving the store.  He makes sure that they are thanked and invited back soon.  Even when someone walks through the door in a foul mood and tries to avoid the greeter, Willie finds a way to reach out to them and say hello.  (I can’t even put into words how amazing it is to watch)
How do we train our greeting team to approach those that are seemingly “unapproachable”?  How do we make sure that every individual receives a greeting?

I have to admit that greeting team is often overlooked in my ministry.  I know the importance of the position, but I don’t have a strategy for that ministry.  Willie does his job with excellence because he has a strategy.  He may not have it written down (or maybe he does), but it is clear that he has thought about it and took action to do his job well.  I will definitely be using what I’ve learned from him to train our greeting team.  Or better yet, maybe Willie can come train them!

If you’re ever in Maumelle, AR and need to visit Wal-Mart, let me encourage you to enter on the grocery/pharmacy side of the store.  Willie works everyday 3pm to 11pm.  Every day, except Wednesday and Sunday because he is also a minister at a local church.   You will immediately understand why Willie is a living legend.  The impression that Willie has left on people as a greeter will live on way past his service as a greeter. Would someone say the same about you or your greeter team?

 

A lot happens in my world on Sundays, and I usually don’t sit down and evaluate it all until Monday.  But the problem with that is that I tend to only recall the things that didn’t go well and need to be changed.  I see and hear powerful stories on Sundays–stories of celebration and life-change.  So I’m starting the tradition of Sunday Celebrations so that I can record to things God is doing each week in our services at Fellowship Bible Church

Today’s celebration was a powerful testimony from an awesome guy.  We’ve been talking about the how to’s of sharing a personal testimony with our 6th graders, and it’s been awesome to see them working through that.  And as a part of those lessons, we had one of the mentors stand before the group and share his testimony.

A little background…this mentor is a very successful business leader.  He has made a name for himself in several venues of business across our state, and he is looked up to as a leader in all of those fields.  He manages thousands of employees and deals will millions of customers. I won’t speak for him, but I will say that I think he has a great life!

This highly successful man stands before 70+ 6th graders and says “I don’t know much else, but I do know that God is changing me.”  It was such a powerful statement.  He explained the feeling of brokenness and lostness that he could not escape.  He talked about how he thought that God was something he could use when he wanted and then walk away from and still be okay.  Even with the success and the name that he had built, he realized that he needed something more.  Through a mentoring program in our church, he was discipled and loved on until he realized his need for Christ.  He shared how that point in his life, when someone shared Christ with him, changed his eternity, and he told how our story can do the same for someone else. 

I just stood in the back of the room watching the students and other adults.  Their attention never left this man has he shared.  It was a powerful moment to think that our story could lead someone to salvation through Jesus Christ.  It was even cooler to think that that person might have the influence and ability to witness to literally millions of other people!

I don’t know if he’ll read this, but if he does…thank you for sharing your testimony.  It is definitely worth celebrating!

What did God do in and around you today that you should be celebrating?

 

It’s recruit and train season for ministry workers.  And as we are prayerfully seeking those that God has called to serve, we need to be evaluating the expectations that we’re placing on our leaders.

The trend has been to lower expectations and commitment levels to attract more volunteers.  I’ve definitely done it, and I’m sure you’ve at least thought about it doing it.  Take it from my experience, IT DOES NOT WORK!

Lowering the expectations will lower the quality AND the quantity of volunteers.

Don’t believe me?  Have you heard of the Pygmalion Effect?

The Pygmalion Effect is based on research of Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson.  The Pygmalion Effect says, in short, that if you believe someone is capable of high performance, then that person will perform highly.  The reverse is also true.  If you believe that someone is incapable of high performance, then in subtle ways you encourage & facilitate the lower performance. The conclusion of research by Rosenthal and Jacobson found that simply believing in the individual’s potential could raise performance. 

The reality is that it’s not just “belief” in potential, but the development of that potential.  If we believe someone has potential, then we spend more time with them and focus more on their development.  If we think that person is incapable of meeting our expectations, then we tend to compromise and lower our expectations to a mediocre level.

Tom Shefchunas had a great line in his breakout at Orange ’11.  He said over and over, “You can’t drive people to do something but the culture can.”  What I took from that statement was that we create a culture of excellence through our expectations.  If we expect great things, then we create an opportunity for our volunteers to rise to that level.   If we celebrate the wins in our ministry and communicate a strategic vision, we can ask great things of our leaders.  And research has proven that if we will ask more from them, we be pleased with the outcome.

This one is hard for me because it’s just hard to ask for more from someone who is “working for free.”  But I when I consider the eternal outcomes that are at stake, I realize that we must call our leaders to do whatever it takes to introduce kids to the Savior.

What are you doing to “raise the expectations” of your leaders?

Are there certain requirements or personal development things that you require of leaders?  (required readings, training events, mentoring, etc?)