The Christian Standard had some really good articles a couple weeks ago about how to be welcoming in your church. In an age where we are constantly trying to bring people to church, people jump from church to church to where they feel the most 'welcome'.
Now, I'm not going to get in a large discussion about how to make people feel welcome in your church. It's pretty straight forward: Go up to someone you've never seen and introduce yourself. That's pretty easy.
But one thing that is absolutely critical...and I mean ESSENTIAL that you absolutely DO NOT do: hug people as they come in the door.
Let me repeat that: DO NOT hug people!
It's weird and violating! I have a personal bubble! Respect it please! Let me give you a short story to illustrate this:
The year is 2006. We have our High schoolers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at a fairly large Baptist church. We bring our students to this church because it's Sunday and we need a place to worship before we head on our way towards New Orleans.
We have several young girls in our group ranging from 14 to 17 years old. As we approach the building I saw him. He was about 60 years old and heading straight towards us. No big deal, I'm familiar with larger churches and their greeter policies. But as he approaches our Senior Minister, he gives him this great big bear hug then proceeds to hug each and every one of us. His hugs linger a little too long for my liking on our young girls. I was a bit uncomfortable (I tend to be the overprotective father type when it comes to our girls).
So please, if you want someone to feel welcome, do it with a hand shake. Hugs are not necessary. Hugs are for relatives and good friends. Not for creepy old men and young teenage girls. Make someone feel welcome with a hand shake and remember their name!