The Welcoming Guests Dilemma

Things at Elevate Student Ministries have been CRAZY lately. I mean just nuts! It seems like I’m just running back and forth from one issue to another. This past Wednesday, I didn’t introduce myself to one of our visitors and I’m okay with that. Here’s why:

We have a fairly intricate system for welcoming our guests, but it takes into account 4 very important variables.

Guest Intimidation

I know that I can’t meet and greet everyone. In fact, I try not to meet and greet everyone. You see, I am not a small person. In fact, unless you know me, I can be pretty intimidating. The last thing I want to do is accidentally intimidate someone. Sometimes keeping myself out of the mix, at first, helps visitors acclimate to our environment without my grumpy-faced, bear-of-a-self getting in their way.

Guest Comfort

A lot of people that come into the church want to be welcomed. They want friendship. What they don’t want is the pastor to come proselytize them. That’s often what they expect. I’ve found that — not every visitor, — but many of them, want to be met by everyone but the pastor. I want to respect those wishes. Thus, my students know that it’s their job to welcome every warm body that walks through the door and include them in our activities.

Guest Introductions

What I’ve done is make sure my kids cover introductions. If their guest don’t want to meet me, they don’t introduce them. If I see a student for more than one week, I do go and introduce myself, but by that time they’ve gotten to know me a bit through the service and it’s not as weird.

Guest Body Language

I do my best to pay attention to body language. When a new person is in my presence, I watch them. If they make eye contact and smile in my direction, I know they are willing to connect. If they act shy and turn their eyes away, I know they don’t want me to bug them. That’s fair, and I don’t need to break into their comfort zone just so I can feel good about greeting every single person in the room.

Now, obviously these aren’t going to be acceptable practices for every group, but I think that each of these 4 variables exist in your scenario and you should be asking yourself:

What kind of person am I? Am I a fair representation of who our group is? What are peoples first impressions of me, and does that give a guest a good handle on who we are as a ministry?

What kind of guests come to our meetings? What do they want? How can we respect their feelings and allow them to explore our group in their own way?

What is the best way for our guests to be introduced?

Do I want to force my guests to connect with me? Do they need that? Do I need that? What is the best way to introduce myself to our guests?

Every NextGen ministry is it’s own organism, with it’s own needs and it’s own culture. Really all I want this post to do is help you to start evaluating what you do, and who you are, and who your NextGen ministry is. The better you know yourself the better you will be able to reach your community.


Do you have any seemingly odd systems in place in your NextGen ministry? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment’s section. Seriously! We’re all in this together.