I love this posting by Jon! I wish more people were like this...I want to to be more like this.
Last Sunday, I grabbed seats in church while my wife brought the kids to Sunday School. I usually use those few minutes of wait time to dump every idea I have in my head into a moleskine notebook or evernote on my iPhone. (Idea generation is one of the parts of my brain I have to quiet a little if I’m really going to focus on worship.) A few minutes after sitting down, a couple in their 50s slid in next to me. The wife, immediately said, “Hi, I’m Patty and this is my husband Mark!”
I was honestly flabbergasted by this gesture.
Not that it was rude. I was touched that Patty wanted to meet me. I was honored that she wanted to introduce me to her husband. I just wasn’t expecting it. Why?
Patty had executed a perfect “Preemptive Meet and Greet.”
She didn’t wait for the guy running the announcements to tell us, “turn to your neighbor and say hello.” She didn’t wait for the pastor to ask us to turn to our neighbor with an assignment, “Ask the person next to you if they enjoyed the snow last week.” Nope, Patty just went for it and it was actually pretty awesome.
I think there are a few reasons this was such a great experience:
1. Patty didn’t front hug me.
Shaking the hand of a stranger on a Sunday morning is a great. I got to meet Patty! Things would have been very different though if she slid next to me and said, “Hi, I’m Patty! I’m a hugger. Get over here. It’s going to be a long one too, you person I’ve never laid eyes on before.” (Hard to say if a side hug would have worked in that situation or not.)
2. Patty kept the handshake simple.
It always kills me when you meet a stranger and your very first handshake is a complicated, 12 step, snap + half hug move. I feel like I’m being inducted into the secret Stonecutters guild. Patty kept the handshake simple and straightforward. We locked hands, shook approximately 2.3 times and broke it off. Anyone who saw it could not have mistaken us as members of the Crips or the Bloods.
3. Patty didn’t race our pastor Pete Wilson.
Our church doesn’t usually do the “meet and greet.” It seemed like Patty knew that and was taking the situation into her own hands. If Cross Point did regularly do a meet and greet, then Patty’s gesture could have been interpreted as her beating Pete Wilson to the punch. Kind of an “in your face, been there done that,” meet and greet touchdown dance.
At this point, some of you might be thinking, “I always greet people I sit next to, I guess my faith is rich and warm and filled with community, you cold hearted monster of a man.” I think that’s a little extreme considering all I said was that I didn’t want to share a long front hug with a stranger, but you’re certainly entitled to your own opinion. I personally think the Patty interchange was perfect.
When my wife slid into our row a couple of minutes later, I excitedly said, “Jenny, this is Patty and her husband Mark!” We felt like old friends by that point, which I think is ultimately the goal of the preemptive meet and greet.
Have you ever experienced a preemptive meet and greet?
Does your church do the meet and greet during service?