“1 O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”
There is something significant in knowing someone’s name. There are over a thousand references to the word “name” in the Bible, including references to Adam’s giving names to the animals at creation, name meanings, names for God, and names written in Revelation’s Book of Life. The name for God is holy. From all of this, we can safely conclude that names are important.
When it comes to church and youth ministry, there are few things more welcoming than being known and called by your name. When I first began volunteering in youth ministry, my complete training for working with junior highers consisted of this bit of wisdom: “All middle schoolers want to know is 1. that they are loved, and 2. that they belong.” I imagine this is true for all ages, and I believe calling someone by their name is the first step toward expressing interest in who they are, and creating a culture of love and belonging.
The problem is it’s very easy to forget a person’s name. There are few things more unwelcoming than having everybody forget who you are. After you’ve talked to a person a couple of times yet you cannot recall their name, you have to make the awkward decision on whether or not to bluff like you know their name, or you have to admit you don’t know it and ask. The worst is when you’ve known someone a long time and you just simply blank out on their name. At church on Sunday, I missed every word a man was saying because I was just trying to recall his name. The struggle is real.
After years of ministry, I’ve come to the conclusion that wearing name tags is an essential act of Christian love and hospitality. Wearing a name tag makes it easier for long-time group members to remember each other’s names, and more importantly, it makes it easier for newcomers and visitors to be able to fit in and call people by name. If everyone is wearing a name tag in the ministry, it puts everyone on the same level.
To think about: Do you like your name? How well do you remember people’s names? How do you honor God’s name?
A Prayer: Holy God, thank you for loving us so much that you call us by name. Help us to intentionally learn the names of the people we meet. Help us to remember that when we make someone feel welcome in the ministry, we are helping build up the Body of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.