categories: church, community, customer service
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August 28th, 2007

by Craig Groeschel

20 comments (+ Add)

5-Star Service 2 (of 5)

Everyone Greeted Us All the Time

After two days at this resort, I was so enamored with the quality of customer service that I intentionally began studying it. (I even interviewed several of the staff members to learn more about their training.)

When I visit one of our campuses, I generally come unannounced. On a recent weekend, Amy and I visited one with great excitement. Walking into the building, I wanted to see how long it would be before someone greeted us. Believe it or not, I walked by two staff members who didn’t even look up or greet us. Once inside the building, we stood still for several moments, wondering if anyone would say “Hi.” We seemed to be invisible to dozens of people who passed us by—and we’re the pastors of the church! Needless to say, we’re working on improvements at that campus.

At the resort, I noticed that everyone greeted us all the time. We never passed a single resort employee who didn’t greet us. Even the housecleaning crew—who were learning to speak English—went out of their way to be extremely nice. No one was intrusive. Everyone was friendly.

I’d love it if ALL our church members (and especially staff members) greeted everyone all the time. For most of us, it will take some intentional effort. But the effort will be worth it.

It’s sad to me that a resort has better hospitality than most of our churches. Let’s work to change that!

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  1. Aug 28, 2007 at 7:15 am

    Great post, I could not agree more! I think that we all can learn from this post, I am forwarding it to my team right now. :-) I like the comment “No one was intrusive, Everyone was friendly.” I believe the non-intrusive part is key for first time church visitors.

  2. Aug 28, 2007 at 7:17 am


    I hope those “former” staff members learn their lesson.

    I don’t if you are talking about the Ritz-Carlton but I got to stay @ the one in Naples,FL for a conference several years back and they did all you talk about. We invited their manager to come explain how they operate & he gave us a “cheat” card that every employee keeps in his or her pocket @ all times. Every employee has their mission statement memorized.

    I was in Chicago 4 years ago on a mission trip. Our group was ministering to some people & a woman inquired about what we were doing. She got so excited & said “I’m a fully devoted follower of Christ.” I said you must be a member of Willowcreek & she said “yes, how did you know?”

    It was obvious!

  3. 3Jillian
    Aug 28, 2007 at 7:52 am

    I do agree with you to some extent, but have to say I am an under the radar type of church goer. I dont mind the initial “Welcome” but feel very overwhelmed if it is constant or over the top, and sometimes it can feel a little fake. Maybe I speak for a small percent but I just thought I would post my thought.

  4. 4Patrick Sievert
    Aug 28, 2007 at 7:53 am

    You can see the power of a greeting when you encounter the greeters at Wal-Mart. These people get paid to greet people, yet their greetings are often ignored. I intentionally go out of my way to greet the greeters before they greet me, calling them by name (I read the name tag).

    For someone whose job is to greet people, it’s amazing the reaction they have when someone greets them, personally, first.

  5. Aug 28, 2007 at 8:21 am

    this past Sunday, our pastor talked about hospitality, and how “the service starts in the parking lot” .. and he aluded to a Disney Cruise he’d attended a few years ago…

    Apparently, Disney gets it. From the time you arrive at the terminal until the time you disembark, it’s one huge, royal bathing of incredible service and hospitality.

    So .. at the church you visited - nobody even recognized you were there. But on a Disney cruise, they line up and pretend you are a celebrity as you walk .. they call you family’s name over the loudspeakers and welcome you.

    Can we learn from Disney?

    For the Kingdom,

  6. Aug 28, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Craig, I get what you are saying about the need for hospitality in our churches. I do feel a bit uncomfortable with your example though and I’m not completely sure why.

    I personally resonate with the care you received, the gift of acknowledging you as a human being by using your name and the amazing fact that they didn’t have to ask you repeatedly for information that you gave them once. Great stuff. E-Myth kind of stuff.

    Maybe my discomfort is with the idea of a 5 Star hotel being compared to a church. They are such different entities with such different purposes… so comparing the level of service seems a bit like comparing apples to a pillow. On one had you have a corporation who pays staff to please it’s customers so that the company can make a lot of money. You also have customers who are present in that business (and pay exorbitantly to be there) to relax, to be catered to and to be pampered.

    Then you have the church.

    So, I’m a fan of elegant solutions and beautiful systems. I’m a fan of big care and gifted hospitality. But if we are trying to be a 5 star hotel the end result will be something we don’t want.

    Craig, thanks for your openness and vulnerability with this blog, I hope you don’t hear this as critical, but as someone who desires dialogue and is open to learning.



  7. 8Mike C.
    Aug 28, 2007 at 8:51 am


    I had a friend of mine make a great point in our fellowship group last night: “there’s a problem when culture shapes the church, and the church is not shaping culture.”

    Do you think this point is relevant to what’s being discussed in this post?

  8. 9BrandonP
    Aug 28, 2007 at 9:07 am

    I am in that same small percentage as you. Like Craig said fake never works. When someone overly friendly barrages me with questions it feels eerily like a car salesman. One simple request if I look to be lost is sufficient.

    Our church discussed this the other day, only our question was whether or not we should post a person at the information table. We decided that people would rather be able to grab what literature they wanted in peace and not feel like we are looking over their shoulder.

    One exception is children. I have found that parents almost always want to get a tour of the area they will be leaving the little ones in; and who can blame them?

  9. Aug 28, 2007 at 9:51 am

    I’m in the camp that loves to be greeted once, maybe twice, but then I want a less intrusive experience. I’m an introvert.

    I like to hide in the crowd sometimes.

    So, could teams be trained to be responsive to different personality traits. We may want to identify the people who are hurting to make care connections with them, all the while making energetic connections with the extroverts….

  10. Aug 28, 2007 at 10:08 am


    I’m one of those people thats “over the top” outgoing. I love the fact that I been blessed with the opportunity of doing First Impressions team leading.


    There is a balance. A hi! I think is important to all. If you can followup with a handshake or even a hug awesome. But I think we get ourselves so tied up doing this it becomes fake or a five star experience. I remember in the word where Jesus came to dine, all Martha was doing was scurrying around making things feel comfortable and Mary was actually being comfortable.
    When I help train my greeters, I tell them make them feel at home, READ THEIR BODY LANGUAGE!! Invite them into your home, see church is your home, don’t smother them.

    On the other side, it’s not only the greeters responsibility either, staff, and people inside the church need to do their part also. It’s a team effort like that resort you visited. It’s our church, Our ministry, our guests!!

  11. 12Rob
    Aug 28, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I think the whole welcoming culture is awesome. I think it strives from a desire to really connect with people. I find it hard to get the balance between really taking the time to connect and walking around like a politician kissing babies.

    I am always amazed at how self centered and unaware I can be. A friend of mine who works for a large church told me of one staff lunch where the pastor called on one of his staff people and asked what their server’s name was…he didn’t know.
    He said “You should always know your servers name.”

    I thought about that and I was terrible about it. I realized that I just saw the people serving me food as a means to an end (my food). Now I make sure I get their name and go out of my way to call them by name while they serve me. It is also great to learn their name and do the same trick to the people with you, so you can feel superior. ;o). I am just being honest.

  12. 13Anonymous
    Aug 28, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Heidi beat me to it…that’s what I get for taking a long lunch (and being competitive!) :)

    *Read their body language*

    I think a smile is always a safe bet when you’re not sure.

  13. Aug 28, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Craig, I completely agree! Two things:

    1) I went to a bar (a what? a bar, yes, a bar) with my little sister and I was MORE welcomed, “loved” on and accepted (even loving Jesus and not drinking) than I had ever known or seen in a church. It made me start wondering “why is the bar so much more accepting of people than the church.” A friend of mine still cusses at church and he says, “I try to be good at church, but I just keep failing.” There is a false perception that the church is for the healthy and not the sick. Possibly everyone is so busy (working so hard) trying to be someone they are not (on the inside) that they are not comfortable greeting, hugging and loving others at church. (I am going to post the bar story on my blog page if you want to see it.)

    2) You are the teaching pastor. We see you on the big screen, but not in person. Seeing you at a campus you don’t regular is most probably like having a “celebrity” in the building. Most people are not going to greet a celebrity because they don’t want to look like the stalker of the week. :O)

    God is love! He IS! As we get to KNOW HIM, not work harder, but TRULY KNOW Him, we will start to LOVE and greet others with that love – everywhere (not because we are told or it’s a standard – it will be like a bubbling over of Him in US – for you word picture people – like a Burp).

  14. Aug 28, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    I waited tables since I was 16 and all through college. So, for me, I tend to view people that serve me as real people. My wife was annoyed at first at my insistence to tip at least 20% but has gotten used to the over-tipping. When people disrespect or treat service people as objects instead of people it really gets under my skin.

    A FORMER staff member had a reputation at our local car rental agency. We had an all-staff event that required travel. I went in to pick up a car and the person behind the counter asked if the unnamed staff member was coming in? I said I believe so…he jokingly said that he would give him the crappy car. I prodded him a bit and found out that this staff member routinely demanded better cars, complained if it wasn’t clean enough, smelled, or didn’t have enough gas. The sad thing was that the rental agent knew he was on staff at our church. I had two emotions, first was extreme embarrassment and I apologized for his behavior. The second emotion was wanting to wring the neck of the former staff member!

    To me, it really boils down to viewing people as people and not just someone who can do something for me.

  15. 16Valerie Blankenburg
    Aug 29, 2007 at 8:57 am

    I have also been to such resorts. I think the treatment is how Christ Followers ought to always act, in every circumstance. If your love overflows and is sincere, which God’s love always is, it will not intrude or offend others. It’s always kind of a challenge to befriend people who think they don’t want befriending!!

    “How much more can a man do than to lay down his life for his friends?” We should treat all of God’s people as Christ himself would treat them. As deciples of Christ, they should ‘know us by our love’, which should show in our welcoming everyone!!

  16. Aug 29, 2007 at 10:34 am

    [...] post info By Brad Martin Categories: Host Team and RiverPoint Church Man, Craig is hitting it out of the park with this series of posts. You can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. This is great stuff for me to read right now because RiverPoint Church is about to launch and with that comes our very first Host Team. Here are some of my thoughts on these posts. [...]

  17. Aug 29, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    On reading this entry, I thought I would respond to this one.

    I agree with Sheri on what she said. Initially, I was going to talk mostly about that but want repeat too much of it since she touched on it. I’m not sure which campus you visited but I can assure you that the ones who didn’t greet you knew who you were. They probably didn’t say anything out of respect and thinking you was “busy” there.

    What I would like to suggest is to send out “spies” to the churches. That is, have them to go to different campuses and act like they are visiting the church. That would probably get you better results of how well they were greeted or not greeted.

  18. Aug 29, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Well said! Thanks for the challenge.

  19. Aug 30, 2007 at 10:03 am

    I talked with my husband about this and he agreed with Burt. Most people probably know how busy Craig is and just wanted to respect that he was going to church with his family.

    Anyway, someone shared this with me about the bar/church comment…”It is so true. My father in law (50 years ago)was an elder in a small rural chuch at a time when individuals still dug graves by hand. One of his biggest peeves was that he would ask for help in church and maybe get one or two but he could go to County Line, our little red light district, go into a bar and ask and everyone there, sometimes including the bartender would load up in their pickups and go “git er done”.