I know I will ruffle a few feathers with this post, but I want to address something that annoys me every time I visit a church that does it. I'm talking about the time when we're told to "Greet your neighbor." For the next five, ten, or even fifteen minutes we walk around shaking hands with people we've already spoken to. Exactly what does this add to a worship service?
Studies consistently show that most church members don't enjoy it. Neither do most first-time guests. Yet, churches continue to do it. Why? So they can continue to believe they are "the friendliest church in town?" I've never felt it made a church friendly when people had to be told it's now time to be nice to one another.
In yesterday's post I mentioned the importance of having a flow to the service. This welcoming time is a major disruption to that flow. In some churches it takes forever to get everyone back to their seats.
There is no question that many churches need to improve their hospitality, but this is not the way to do it. It feels forced. I want people to speak to me because they are genuinely glad I'm there, not because it's the next item in the bulletin.