A First Impression That Stuck

When Shaina first walked through the doors of Hoboken Grace, she didn’t know what to expect. She wasn’t someone who typically went to church, and it wasn’t part of her background growing up. But after watching a few services online, she decided to finally give Hoboken Grace a try.

“I was in bad place mentally, having gone through a difficult relationship,” she said. “I was looking for support, and I quickly found that at Hoboken Grace.”

From day one, said Shaina, everyone she met made her feel welcome. 

“They were reaching out and making an effort to introduce me to everyone,” she said. “They filled me in about events going on and encouraged me to attend. It helped me become part of a great group of friends and got me in a better place, so I wanted to give that feeling back to others.”

When she decided to join a team, First Impressions seemed like a natural fit.

The First Impressions Team is made up of several smaller teams: the greeters you see welcoming you as you walk through the doors; the Hospitality Team, which serves drinks, bagels and doughnuts; and the Set-Up and Tear-Down teams, which create (and put away) the space each Sunday. As members of the First Impressions Team, their job is to make everyone — both first-time guests and regular attenders — feel at home.

Shaina liked the idea of serving as a greeter and a member of the Tear-Down Team — so she decided to do both.

For greeters, a typical Sunday starts with a rundown of the agenda, where Shaina finds out where she’s assigned to serve that week. Her favorite spot is by the main doors — where the most people enter and exit. She tries to make eye contact with as many people as possible, so they know they’re appreciated and welcome back. Shaina says it’s a task she loves, even though it forces her outside of her comfort zone.

“There are days that I want to be quiet and by myself, but then I am reminded why I’m there and I work to get people connected,” she said. “I love seeing smiles on people’s faces and seeing them return every week.”

The Tear-Down Team starts its work at the end of third service, packing up the chairs, carpeting, mics, and various other odds and ends used to transform a school gym into the more intimate setting you see on Sunday mornings

“I love it because of the energy factor,” Shaina said of the team. “You really get to physically work, so I can put my extra energy to good use.”

But whether it’s serving as a greeter, on the Tear-Down Team or in any other role on the First Impressions Team, Shaina says there’s a place for everyone.

“I think the First Impressions Team is a great team for people who are trying to decide where they may fit,” she said. “You’re constantly in connection with your leader and your group. The serving time is short, sweet, and simple. It’s a great way to meet new people and make meaningful connections, which may eventually evolve into solid friendships. It’s also a great way to serve God and love others well.”

Interested in checking out First Impressions? Email anthony@hobokengrace.com.

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