Guidelines for Ushers and Greeters

Craft J. Burlington

Guidelines for Ushers and Greeters

-“Good morning–it’s good to see you in our church today. I hope you find a blessing this morning.”

-“Hello! My name is Alan and this is my wife Betty. (Visitors give their name). Welcome! Let me take you to our guest register.”

-“Good to have you this morning. Isn’t it a beautiful day? Where are you folks from?”

-“Welcome to our service! I am Lois and this is my son Robert. Would you like to leave the baby in our nursery? Let me show you where it is.”

-Hi! My name is Grant, help me to remember your name. Let me introduce you to one of our elders.”

-“I don’t believe I have the pleasure of knowing your name. I am Ellie DeVries and this is my husband Gordon. (Visitor gives her name). Let me introduce you to our pastor.”

-“Good morning! Have we met before? (Introductions) I think two of your children may want to attend church school during the service. What are their ages? Let me show you from the bulletin the time at which they leave the worship service.”

-“Good to see you! I’ll try to find you after the service–will you look for me? We can have coffee together and get better acquainted.”

On paper these little conversations sound a bit stilted–but in the real situation they can be very natural and much appreciated. Each person will have his or her own style and each visitor to your church will have
his or her own needs. But some kind of welcome is crucial. You are engaged in a ministry of hospitality which will help visitors feel at home and therefore better able to participate in worship. A warm welcome
will open the door to further contacts. Failure to welcome people or even worse giving them a cold shoulder will mean missed opportunities for ministry and church growth.

We can make a first impression only once.

The challenge is to “be wise in the way you act to outsiders; make the most of every opportunity”  (Colossians 4:5), and “Let brotherly love continue, do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:1-2).

Our Aims

To equip ushers and greeters to effectively welcome visitors to our worship services.

To greet and warmly welcome members of the church.

To identify potential new members so that the church can minister to their needs and guide them to people and activities in the church.

To ensure that everyone is properly seated and has whatever information would be helpful to them.

To help people be ready for worship and fellowship.

Other aims for our congregation: ___________________________________________________________


The Gift of Hospitality

Everyone can learn to be gracious and kind to strangers; all of us are to be hospitable. But some people are especially gifted in this area. The “Discover Your Gifts” seminar published by Christian Reformed Home
Missions defines hospitality as the ability to welcome and graciously serve guests and strangers (Romans 12:13).

Some churches assign greeters and ushers by rotation. Others choose young men and women to be ushers and ask the elders to greet worshipers. Everyone who is involved will need some training and instruction. More and more churches are identifying members gifted in hospitality and training them for ministries of greeting and/or ushering.

How are ushers and greeters selected in our congregation? ___________


Has our congregation identified those who have hospitality gifts? ___



The Inclusive Church

Churches that are growing do so because they want to grow and are willing to examine every aspect of church life with a view to growth.

Does our congregation want to grow?

Are we willing to pay the price to make friends out of strangers and willing to make the changes necessary to help guests feel at home in our church and included in our fellowship?  _____________________



The inclusive church views every person as a potential brother or sister in Christ and makes every attempt to help them feel at home in worship so that the message “We love you, we need you” comes through and the preached gospel message is heard in an atmosphere of loving concern.

Christian Reformed Home Missions has a workshop called “Evangelism andWorship” which explores these ideas in greater detail. Has the workshop been held or scheduled in our church? Is it needed? ____________________


We can begin to be an inclusive church by no longer using such terms as “outsiders” or “strangers” and by speaking and thinking of visitors to worship as “visiting friends” or “guests.”

Identifying Guests

Hospitable and growing churches make every effort to get the names of visiting friends.

What is the best way to identify our guests? What is being done now? Could this be improved?________________________________________________



Some ideas to discuss:

-A visitor center.

-Several guestbooks.

-A “friendship ritual” during the service with a pad passed down the pew.

-Information cards in the pew.

-Gifted people keep an eye open before and after worship for visitors.

-Reserved parking for visitors.

-Signing in at the nursery.

-A permanent hospitality coordinator for the whole church or just the nursery.

-Visitors asked to stand up or raise hands at the beginning of the service.

-Members asked to stand up and greet guests who are seated.

Visitor Follow-up

Once we know the names and addresses of visiting friends, how shall we minister to them? Perhaps this is not the responsibility of the ushers and greeters but another group of people. Who is responsible for this in
our church?____________________________________________________________


What follow-up can be done? A letter? A visit? Who writes the letter and who visits? Who reviews the list of names on Monday to decide what action should be taken? ________________________________________________


See also Building Bridges: The Art and Practice of Evangelistic Calling published by Church Development Resources.

Not All Guests Are the Same

Discuss the ministry of hospitality toward the following people who have come for the first time to a worship service.

-Uncle Joe and Aunt Gladys who are visiting their nephew Ron. Ron is a member of our church. His aunt and uncle belong to another denomination in another city.

-Newlyweds Greg and JoAnne who have just moved here from another place. JoAnne is a member of our denomination, Greg is not.

-Carla is a student who expects to be in our area most of this year.

-Laurie and John have just moved into the city because of a job transfer. Laurie comes to church alone. She has a six-year old daughter at home. She and John live together but are not married.

-The DeVries family are members of another church (same denomination) in the city.

-Sally and Gordon have just moved into our neighborhood. They have four children and no church affiliation.

-Keith is a rather unusual and unkempt person who appears to have no fixed address.

-The Boss family has just moved into town. Art Boss is a Christian school teacher. The family membership is in our denomination.

Add any other type of guests that may be common to our congregation such as seasonal visitors or military personnel. ____________________________




In discussing these visitors and how to welcome them, talk about the welcome you extend at the church service; the type of literature, if any, you give them; what follow-up is needed; and whether or not they
should receive a coffee and Sunday meal invitation. Some churches appoint “host families” who, by rotation, are prepared to take visitors home for dinner. If no visitor comes, they invite church members and get better acquainted with them. Lyle Schaller writes, “The most influential question that can be asked of a first time visitor is, ‘Would you like to come home with us for dinner?’ Does anyone ask that question?”


-are members who help worshipers find suitable seating and who assist in smooth traffic flow. They are also to assist in emergencies. In some smaller churches ushering and greeting is done by the same persons.
Remember that both men and women can serve in these roles.

-Make sure worshipers have a bulletin, a songbook, and a Bible. Point out the visitor card if you have them.

-It is helpful to introduce visitors to others already in the pew.

-Be sensitive to special seating needs. If possible, match visitors with like people.

-Be prepared to assist anyone who leaves the worship service to seek out a washroom or for some other reason.

-Know the location of fire extinguishers, the first-aid kit, and the fire exits. Be sure that emergency telephone numbers are permanently – displayed next to the church telephone and that the telephone is
accessible (not in a locked office).

-Do whatever you can to be helpful to everyone but give special attention to guests.

-Wear a smile and your name tag.

-Be prompt. Arrive on time. In our church, ushers should be a their station at least minutes before the worship service begins.

-Be familiar with the procedure used to seat latecomers.

-When a full house is anticipated, encourage people to move to the center of the pew. When adding people to a partially filled pew, ask those already seated to move over and indicate how many seats you need.

-It is a good practice when returning to the back of the sanctuary to scrutinize the pews to ascertain the number of vacant spaces.

-If you are unable to serve, find your own substitute or notify someone.

-Be familiar with the usher schedule and the term of service.

Administration of Greeting and Ushering

Any program that involves people and materials requires administration. Good hospitality doesn’t just happen–it is prayed for, planned, organized, evaluated, and celebrated. Some churches have a hospitality
committee responsible for this. Others ask the worship committee to look after this kind of hospitality. Still others give major responsibility to the evangelism committee. In any case, there should be good cooperation between hospitality and evangelism. In some churches, a head greeter or head usher is appointed who, in turn, appoints others. How is greeting, ushering and hospitality organized in our church? Does it run well or should it be changed?

Here is how one church describes the duties of the head usher and coordinator of greeters:

-Keep and up-to-date roster of all ushers and greeters.

-Call a yearly meeting of all ushers and greeters to be held sometime during the first or second week of September for the purpose of coordinating efforts and making improvements in the service offered.

-Make a schedule showing when ushers and greeters are to serve. Check with them to make sure that they can serve according to schedule. The schedule should include evening as well as morning services.

-Be prepared to make last minute substitutions when necessary.

-Observe ushering and greeting procedures with a view to making improvements.

-Prepare a list of ushers and greeters during the summer months so that it can be presented to the Worship and Fellowship Committee for approval and passed on to the Council for information at the August meeting.

-Inform the ushers and greeters of the date of the September meeting, and lead this meeting.

Regularly evaluate what you are doing. Work closely with the pastor–he will find that a congregation where people are warmly received and are cared for is more ready for inspiring worship and good listening. Thank ushers and greeters publicly from time to time. Celebrate achievements and remember that the work of greeting and ushering is a ministry that glorifies God and helps the church to grow in worship, fellowship, and numbers.


-are members who act in an official capacity, on behalf of God and the congregation, to greet and welcome all who have come to worship, in response to a public invitation.

-Discuss the significance of the words printed in bold.

-Begin with an attitude of joy and expectation. Be thankful to God for this ministry and for everyone, especially guests, who come to worship.

-Be warm and friendly. Greet with a smile. Take the initiative with an extended hand.

-Take extra time with visitors but also greet the members.

-Look people in the eye, be ready with a cheerful comment. A sincere compliment is always appropriate.

-Assess any special needs–for nursery, Sunday school, special seating for a handicapped person, etc.

-Lead visitors to a guestbook and have greeters stationed by the guestbook. If you use pew cards you may wish to hand them to visitors as they are about to be seated. Churches with a “friendship ritual” have a
different arrangement.

-Be prepared to talk to guests after the service and to introduce them to the pastor or to someone of similar age or interest.

-Invite them to stay for refreshments after worship if your congregation has a fellowship time.

-Wear a name tag. If you provide name tags for visitors, what procedure do you use?

-Be in place on time. Decide in advance how many greeters you need and what time they should be there.

-Be faithful. If you are unable to be there, find your own substitute or notify someone.

-At least one greeter should be prepared to greet latecomers. Do the greeters have assigned seating? When do your greeters enter the sanctuary?

-Even when you are not on duty, try to spot visitors and extend a welcome.

-Any special guidelines for your situation?

(The above material was Church Development Resources, Grand Rapids, MI.)

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