Things Church Ushers and Waiters Should Never Do

via GarryKnight on Flickr
via GarryKnight on Flickr

Restaurateur-to-be Bruce Buschel put together a popular list of 100 things he thinks wait staff should never, ever do. Many of these lessons also apply to church ushers and greeters. Here are the ones (in the original order) worth sharing with your welcoming ministry.

Don’t Act Like a New York Waiter and Other Things Church Ushers Should Never Do

1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.
(Substitute “church” for “restaurant” and the advice still holds up.)

2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?”

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.
WRONG! Wear a name tag by all means and introduce yourself if appropriate. Of course, skip the flirting; leave that to the young adults ministry.

8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.
(A smile will do if your guests are already in conversation.)

9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.
(Speak meaningfully.)

14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.

15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”

23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.
(The corollary for churches is to offer a bulletin or program up front.)

25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.
(Clean up the pews. Make sure the entrance area is neat.)

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.
WRONG! A helping hand or a handshake can be appropriate at times.

33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.

34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.
WRONG! You can display some humanity, but take it easy.

35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.
(Share the doughnuts after Mass.)

36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage. Or the incense.

37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.
(Again, not before Mass.)

38.Do not call a guy a “dude.” 39. Do not call a woman “lady.”
(Ushers probably can greet them without such terms.)

41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.
(Mea culpa.)

42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.
WRONG! It’s not insulting, but it is inappropriate. Don’t suggest that what’s on the outside is more important than the inside.

45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.
(%$@*& good advice.)

46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.
WRONG! Kids and seniors are exceptions.

47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.
(Don’t gossip at all!)

49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.
Don’t ask for the donation on the way in.

50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.
Be sincere.

That’s my take on the dos and don’ts for ushers from the original list. What are the best ushers at your church doing?


4 thoughts on “Things Church Ushers and Waiters Should Never Do

  1. Nice parrallel! I am amazed at how effective #1 is. We had a hospitality team at our parish established and it was funny to see the people’s reactions as they entered the Church. They initially avoided the greeters because they thought that they were asking for donations, but when they realized they were just saying hello they were thrilled. Very interesting. Semms like #1 and #49 go together pretty well lol!

    • Our parish council includes a representative from each Mass slot. They also serve as greeters. The arrangement makes it convenient to identify your rep and to bring up a point with them as needed.

      • That’s a good idea. That would solve one of the problems my father-in-law (who runs the hospitality group at our parish) faces.

        Currently, the ushers at our parish are a tight knit group and have literally made it an exclusive club. They rarely allow new blood in there. It’s as though they feel threatened by outsiders. It’s somewhat understandable, but if there were a rep at each mass, that might stem that attitude.

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