Sunday, January 02, 2011

To Shake or Not To Shake

We were at a church over the holidays as guests and as we entered the building a man opened the door for us and greeted us kindly. Right inside the doors were more greeters holding bulletins. I stuck out my hand to shake the hand of one of the greeters and said "hello." He smiled, but to my surprise, did not offer his hand back to me. He went on to explain that since it was flu season they were choosing not to participate in shaking hands so as not to spread germs. Instead he offered me a "fist pump."

Now, there were many great aspects of this church and we really enjoyed and were encouraged by our time there. It is a church that we would definitely return to. The worship was genuine and meaningful and the message was authoritative and right on the money. The atmosphere inside the church was also very pleasant. I laughed to myself, though, when time came in the service to greet those around you and say "hello." Guess what everyone did during that time? They all SHOOK HANDS! I found it interesting that that the only people who were not open to shaking hands, even of guests, were the official greeters at the doors.

Now, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to spread germs. That's why I think churches should abandon the whole "holy kiss" thing during cold and flu season (in case you didn't get it - that was a joke!). But come on! Do you really think not shaking hands at church is going to curb any cold and flu epidemic? What about all the germs on the doorknobs and door handles of the church and restrooms? What about all the germs on the offering plate as it gets past down the aisle person to person?

I'm just not sure its a great first impression to a first time guest who puts out his hand to shake that of an official church greeter only to be denied any reciprocation due to the threat of sneezing or coughing. Do you realize that back in the days when the black plague was spreading through parts of Europe and people were putting their own family members who caught the disease out on the street that it was Christians who took these disease stricken folks into their own homes to give them mercy and care until they died?

How about you just carry some hand sanitizer in your pocket to offset the risk of catching a cold and go out of your way to make guests, as well as regular attendees, feel welcomed with a warm handshake. With that said, I need to bring this post to a close and go wash my hands! After all, who knows how many germs are on this computer keyboard!

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Anonymous said...

I'm a germ phobe and that's why I said "no thanks" when asked to consider being a greeter at church. I think those that do volunteer to be greeters however, should shake hands with those that want to shake hands.

Pastor Scott said...

I totally agree, Anonymous. I hope nobody took my posting to mean I don't believe in being smart about spreading germs. We all need to be smart. But like you, I do believe that those whose ministry role is that of serving as a greeter should be willing to go out of their own comfort zone to make people feel welcomed, especially guests! Thanks for commenting! I trust you will have a very happy and healthy 2011!

Magic Mike said...

Maybe you can use that as an excuse for the Cleveland Browns 41-9 thrashing at the hands of the Steelers...they couldn't get close enough to actually tackle someone during the flu season!

Amanda said...

I had to laugh when I read this today. I actually had someone sneeze into their hands two seconds before stretching them out to shake my hand at church yesterday. And I'm still alive today!! Thanks for a good common sense posting!

Pastor Scott said...

WOW, Amanda! Now that's gross! Hope you don't catch the plague as a result! Seriously, thanks for commenting. Blessings (and health) to you!

Pastor Scott said...

Ah, Magic Mike, just when I thought mercy was returning to the blogosphere you had to bring up the Browns!!! I'm just glad it resulted in Mangini finally getting replaced. Hey - since I'm still available in the workplace, maybe I'll send in my resume for the head coaching job. Don't see how I can do any worse than the last few! Blessings to you and your wife, my friend!