Greeting 101: Easy Steps to Greeting in the Local Church By Buddy Bell

Posted on January 21, 2012. Filed under: Book Reviews, Church Ushers |

A Review by Bryan E. Walker

January 2012

If you want a lively, interesting, and uplifting book on how to be a Church Greeter, read Buddy Bell’s book Greeting 101: Easy Steps to Greeting in the Local Church, Harrison House: Tulsa, OK 1998 (110pp.) Written in an informal, encouraging style with many biblical references, this book will benefit any church Usher or Greeter who reads it. Though not nearly as thorough or as polished as Thomas L. Clark’s A Guide for the Church Usher, Buddy Bell’s book may be the best introduction to the subject of Greeting. The only caution I would give is that Dr. Bell’s theological background is from the Charismatic side of the Faith and that may offend some of my Baptist brothers. I found it refreshing, perhaps because the book I reviewed just prior to this one was Alvin D. Johnson’s The Work of the Usher which did not impress me.

Chapter 1 “You Are a V.I.P.” opens strong with “Being a greeter, or a host and hostess as some churches call them, involves more than just standing at the door and shaking people’s hands as they enter the church. It is a ministry. First Corinthians12:28calls it the ministry of helps,” (p.3). Right from the start Dr. Bell grounds the work of the Greeter in the Word of God. He contrasts those who would just look at the Greeter as a job anybody could do with those who look at it as genuine ministry. For Buddy, the Greeters’ primary responsibility is “to let visitors know they are welcome.” Buddy’s warm style oozes over into his explanation of how to spot a visitor and share with them about your church as you guide them to where they need to be.

Bell is careful to point out that the Greeters are not just for visitors, but have a valuable role in greeting other church members and refers to Heb. 13:24 “Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints.” While I am not sure his exegesis of the text is too precise here, his application is fitting!

In chapter two Buddy tells us that we Greeters are “Representatives of the Kingdom of God”. He strongly says, “You are an ambassador of the Most High God to His people, and you need to look and act your best because you standing in His behalf.” That sentence is worth the price of the book! And again he ties it in with scripture, Col. 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

In all the books on ushering and greeting I have studied, there is some mention of how greeters/ushers should dress. Dr. Bell says: “follow the examples of your pastor and his wife.” Sound advice. He discusses cleanliness and even urges us to use mouthwash and underarm deodorant. That’s basic, and needed in some quarters. Bellwrites, “First impressions are critical, and your appearance and attitude can make the difference between someone being drawn closer to God or being pushed further away,” (p.25).

In his third chapter, “Getting Started”, Buddy says the greeters need to get to their places 30 minutes prior to worship starting and we need to pray together before we go to our doors, “All you need to do is to ask God to assist you in being the best greeter you can be today,” (p.32). Bell thinks that a church needs two greeters at every door as a minimum, and churches over 200 should have 6-7 greeters at each door, and as many married couples as possible should serve together. This allows for greeters to escort guests more freely. It is at this point that greeting and ushering seem to be combined by Bell (although he has a separate book on Ushering 101) but he later indicates that ushers are the ones who take the guests to their actual seats.

In chapter 4 “Extending a Warm Welcome” Dr. Bell states, “I believe that one of the most important aspects of our job as greeters is to surround every person who walks through the doorway of the church with the love of God,” (p.39). He gives us practical tips on how to do this with a “A Warm Smile”, “A Firm Handshake”, “A Kind Word”, and “Just a Simple Hug”. After his section on giving a simple hug, he goes into more depth explaining hugs for twelve pages! He is correct and very helpful to give this much detail to hugging because in our litigious and perverted society hugs have become controversial. Again Bell links his ideas with some Bible texts like Matt.8:3 as well as some medical research.

A rich part of the book for me, but that may irritate some, is Dr. Bell’s anecdotal stories of miraculous things that have occurred with Greeters. One such story is at the beginning of chapter 5, “Called to a Ministry of Love” on p.58, where he tells of a greeter who grabbed somebody’s hand and shook it, “and the person just broke out into tears and began to weep crying, ‘Oh, my God, I need Jesus.’”

We Greeters need to be “Walking, Talking Information Centers” in chapter 6. The Church Greeter should be able to answer questions about the church ranging from the practical, “Where is the nursery?” to the historical, “How did the church get started?”, to the convicting, “How many people have been saved since you have been here?”Bellsuggests that in order for Greeters to be effective they need to attend monthly meetings so they know what is going on in the church. The last section of ch.6, “A Word on Faithfulness” seems out of place for this chapter and should be in chapter 7 “Requirements for Greeters” which includes a section on the administrative aspects of becoming a greeter but then moves into a section “Be Committed”.

Chapter 8, “The Qualifications for Overseers” is a bit confusing because he misuses the word, seemingly referring to Greeters as Overseers but I think he is referring to the head Greeter. He is referring to Acts 6:3 and to the men who were to oversee the feeding of the widows, but normally the term “overseer” is meant as bishop, presbyter, elder, pastor. Nonetheless, Bell’s chapter is excellent as he speaks of some of the qualities you need in your Greeters. Bell believes that Greeters should be formally presented to the church with some kind of a commissioning service.

Bell’s final chapter, “Tips for Overseers” discusses how the head Greeter sets the example for the Greeter ministry. He goes into how he corrects Greeters who are making mistakes by coming alongside them and doing the job with them. Bell holds meetings, gives informational handouts to his Greeters and even gives them pop quizzes! On page 107 Bell has a brief discussion of Greeters and security, saying that one reason for hugging people is to check to see if they are carrying guns! This book was published in 1998, the year before the tragic shootings at Wedgewood Baptist here inFort Worth. I would suggest that many people in Baptist churches in Texas carry concealed with a license now. That is a good thing. Bell closes his book with an excellent prayer for Greeters and gives an Afterword that presents the gospel.

In conclusion, Buddy Bell’s book was very encouraging, biblical and practical; a joy to read. I can highly recommend this book as very possibly the best introduction to being a Church Greeter.

Here is a link to CBD for purchasing Buddy Bell’s book:

http://www.christianbook.com/greeting-easy-steps-the-local-church/buddy-bell/9781577948872/pd/948874?item_code=WW&netp_id=465393&event=ESRCG&view=details

Here is a link to Buddy Bell’s ministry:

http://www.buddybellministries.com/

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