In 2018, a study was conducted in a school to enhance students’ learning experience. As per the results, they found out that when teachers deliberately foster a sense of belonging by greeting each student at the door of the class, they see significant improvements in academic engagement time and reduced disruptive behavior. The key is to make each student feel special and wanted in the class for them to show their best behavior. In fact, we have seen similar videos on social media in which teachers can be seen waiting outside the class to welcome their students with a high five, a hug, or a handshake. And then they let them enter the classroom. This allows the teachers to gauge and set the mood of the class.
Though it might seem like a small step, it can create a huge difference in someone’s day. Greg Atkinson is of the same view, and in fact, he has been implementing a similar idea in communities globally for years now. He is an entrepreneur, speaker, leadership coach, consultant, and member of the Forbes Coaching Council. What is even more interesting is that he’s been using his unconventional yet effective approach to help leaders develop strong communities.
Greg has worked with different churches, including some of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country, as well as with businesses, non-profits, and organizations such as Josh McDowell Ministries.
Besides being a motivational speaker and leadership coach, he is a bestselling author. Greg has four successful books to his credit. Moreover, he has authored numerous e-books and articles. But one thing Greg is most passionate about is hospitality. He speaks and writes about hospitality and encourages church leaders to be more welcoming and accessible. He puts it as a Biblical mandate, where they are to ‘welcome the stranger.’
Building a strong and connected community requires acceptance and tolerance; when someone feels loved and wanted in a place, he is bound to be inclined towards its offerings too. The idea is simple; if you don’t greet the guests at your house well, they will not return to you or probably would even cut off ties after some time. On the contrary, if you are warm towards others and make them feel welcomed, they will enjoy spending time with you, and in turn, this will strengthen your relationship with each other. A similar formula applies to churches, institutes, and organizations as well.
Greg has been speaking, writing, and teaching for nearly three decades, as well as running a global leadership conference, First Impressions, which encourages all churches to be more inclusive and welcoming. Having hosted hundreds of speakers from around the world till now, the First Impressions Conference organizes both virtual and in-person events. It is essential that people feel at home in their local churches, and that’s where you build a strong bond with your community, making them a part of your bigger family.
It was in 2009 that Greg also started his church secret shopper company called Worship Impressions. It primarily works with large churches in order to create welcoming environments and be prepared for the guests each weekend. Greg visits churches unannounced as a secret shopper and evaluates everything that happens on the weekend. He then presents a report and provides his feedback on the services, which helps the churches get enlightened and improve themselves.
Being a people person, Greg Atkinson loves to be around them, learn from them and teach them something new through his own experiences. He imparts his knowledge as a coach and secret shopper to the people he meets daily. In fact, he strives every day to touch people’s lives around him, which in turn helps build a better society. He makes sure to instill kindness and compassion in people. His approach, though unconventional, develops a feeling of belonging to their community and owning it.
Greg is a very ambitious and driven individual. He gets excited every time he sees someone post a picture of one of his books on social media. Greg gets thrilled walking into a bookstore and finding his book on the shelf. He even gets driven by those around him, whether they are his mentors or friends. With every book, with every mentorship program, and with every coaching session, he learns something new and tries to teach others as well. His work has shaped him as a person and made him a better husband, father, leader, coach, and inspirational speaker over the span of thirty years. And he wants to use that knowledge to make the world a better, more accepting, and peaceful place to live in.