I confess. I did not expect to write an article that engendered such strong emotions. But now nearly 600,000 people have viewed the article, and hundreds have commented.
The article to which I refer was about the simple issue of what churches do that drives first-time guests away. The most discussed issue was that which is typically called “the stand and greet time.”
A lot of people don’t like this time in many churches’ worship services. A lot of people really don’t like it.
So I decided to conclude the series with representative comments from those who said, in no uncertain terms, not to continue this exercise in your church. This sentiment was particularly strong among those who are actively visiting churches now.
Here are some of the comments:
- “The meet and greet or the sign of peace or whatever your denomination may call it, it’s all the same – a personal, psycho-contrived exercise that is not only too MUCH, but too SOON.”
- “As a shy introvert, a stand up meet and greet sounds terrifying. Please let me attend the service without having to do this. I can meet people afterwards if I’d like.”
- “As a visitor to a new church, I can’t honestly say I’ve NEVER enjoyed, or seen the point, in a meet and great period. First of all, I’m an introvert and having a bunch of strangers come up to me all at once expecting to shake my hand and get my name and ask whether I’ve been there before and so on doesn’t feel friendly and inviting, it feels forced and uncomfortable and overwhelming.”
- “This is actually the reason my wife and I left a church and didn’t come back. I have crazy allergies certain times of the year, and I adjust by sitting in the back so if I have a crazy sneezing fit or something I can duck out quietly, use the restroom, and make my way back in without disturbing other people in the service. Well I did that at a new church, and they didn’t want to let me back in. I would’ve just walked out, except my wife was still in the service.”
- “Sometimes I’ve been late on purpose to avoid the forced friendliness and physical contact with strangers – especially during cold and flu season.”
- “Ditch greet time; just get on with the service.”
- “It’s not that I don’t want to participate in a meaningless, obligatory greeting; it’s just that I don’t want to participate in a meaningless and obligatory greeting.”
- “As an introverted first time guest, this moment can be extremely stressful–even if everyone you meet is very friendly and sincere.”
- “Many times we have stood in a church, where it is obvious that we are the only visitors present, and had no one greet us. It is a bit like crashing a family reunion at that point.”
- “I’m nowhere near an introvert but the most awkward part of the service for me is the greet your neighbors . . . one church we attended had a 5 good minutes of meeting those sitting around you . . . our family who was very new to the church called it 5 awkward minutes. I just don’t understand how shaking a strangers hand makes for community?! Honestly I’d rather not!”
- “To this day I continue to dread the mid-service “stand up and greet the person next to you” time. I’m guessing extroverts and old-timers just don’t get how unhelpful of a practice it is.”
- “I’ve gotten up and walked out of churches that do the ‘let’s meet the visitors’ thing.”
- “I am not one to feel comfortable in the spotlight and literally everyone in the congregation smelled new blood and cornered me before I could make an exit.”
Yes, the feelings are strong, Very strong. Do these comments affect how you feel about this time in church worship services?