10 Reasons Everybody at Church Should Wear a Nametag

April 16, 2015

By Chuck Lawless

At many conferences and meetings I attend, I am expected to wear a nametag. The business world thinks about nametags, but the church world gives them too little thought. Here are ten reasons EVERYONE in church ought to wear a nametag.

  1. Few people know everybody in the church. Even in the smallest churches, it’s sometimes difficult to remember everybody’s name. If/as the church grows, that task becomes even more difficult. Nametags allow us to admit that struggle while providing a way to overcome it.
  2. Leaders need help with names. I want to know everybody’s name in my church, but I’m not gifted with that kind of memory. I admit I need help if I want to be the best church leader I can be. I would much prefer calling people by name as I minister to them – and nametags allow me to do so.
  3. Nametags invite conversation. Knowing another person’s name breaks down one barrier to conversations that church folks ought to feel comfortable having. It’s simply easier to talk with others when you are on a first-name basis.
  4. Knowing names makes fellowship more personal. While calling each other “brother” or “sister” sounds good (and is theologically on target), that nomenclature is often a cover up for “I’m sorry I don’t know your name, and I’m embarrassed to ask.” As long as conversations remain at the anonymous “brother” and “sister” level, fellowship will remain surface level.
  5. Nametags save embarrassment. We’ve probably all called someone by the wrong name, only to realize it later (or perhaps even within the same conversation). If “brother” or “sister” is a gentle way of saying, “I don’t know your name,” using the wrong name is an undeniable way of doing so. That’s embarrassing for both parties.
  6. Nametags are an inexpensive way to promote outward focus. The church that says, “We don’t need nametags since we already know everyone anyway” is probably saying more than they care to admit. My guess is they see few guests at their church, and they probably aren’t expecting any. On the other hand, using nametags is one way to say, “We expect God to send us guests, and we want to be ready for them.”
  7. Guests feel less conspicuous. I understand why we might give guests a nametag, but doing so for them alone actually makes them even more noticeable – and puts them at a disadvantage in conversations. I know their name, but they don’t know mine if I’m not also wearing a nametag. Guests should never be the ones who must do the asking.
  8. Saying to someone, “Please let us know your name” also says, “We want to know you.” Much has been written about guests’ desire for anonymity in churches, but I take a different slant on that issue. People who come to a church are looking for something. They often welcome care and concern. What they don’t want is to be smothered and made uncomfortable. That’s a different issue, though, than simply wanting to know them by name.
  9. A “nametag” ministry provides opportunities for service. Somebody must purchase the nametags. Somebody must distribute them. Greeters must remind folks to get their nametags. And, likely, somebody must clean up the “peel and press” nametags that wind up on the floor after the service. The opportunities for members to get involved in a simple but significant ministry are numerous.
  10. Leaders risk little by trying this approach. We’re not omitting a ministry from the budget, re-writing the church constitution, or killing a sacred cow with this approach. We’re simply asking people to wear a nametag to promote fellowship and welcome guests. If this ministry fails – and I don’t think it will if leaders promote it properly and patiently wait for it to enter the DNA of a congregation – the church has lost little.

What are your thoughts about nametags?


Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

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photo credit: Hello, my name is anonymous via photopin

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83 Comments

  • Chuck, your article AND all the comments are very thought-provoking. Our small church is beginning a name tag program. I think I know now to encourage a few actions:
    1. Do NOT force them on visitors. If they would like one, that’s great.
    2. Encourage their use, but respect everyone’s right NOT to wear them.
    3. I didn’t know about a “name tag ministry”. What a neat idea.
    Thanks to ALL of you who wrote about this controversial issue. Lots of good ideas.

  • After reading all the comments, it seems to me that the only way to know if name tags work at your church is to plan it thoroughly and test it with enough support and follow-up to emphasize the clear purpose of the tags. In time, your congregation will surely let you know what they think.

  • Question: How does one measure the impact of nametags?
    I am not talking about measuring if people wear nametags rather how does one measure (quantify) if nametags encourages/discourages people getting to know others?

    What is the metric?
    e.g.
    1. Rate on a scale of 1 to 10 if name tags are effective in helping you know someone at church?
    2. Yes/no – Nametags encourage me to talk to someone new?

    Who would you ask the questions to? New visitors, ushers, pastors, staff, members, long time visitors

  • Question: How does one measure the impact of nametags?
    I am not talking about measuring if people wear nametags rather how does on measures quatify if nametags encourages/discourages people getting to know others?

    What is the metric?
    e.g.
    1. Rate on a scale of 1 to 10 if name tags are effective in helping you know someone at church?
    2. Yes/no – Nametags encourage me to talk to someone new?

    Who would you ask the questions to? New visitors, ushers, pastors, staff, members, long time visitors

  • Tomorrow I am going to our head pastor and pitching this very idea. I believe strongly in community and I think that people who LOVE name tags is about 30% The people who will wear them just because they like to see other peoples names is about 30% and people who will HATE them is about 40% I say it need so be very clear that they DON’T have to wear them. This is for the 60% that want to know others names and desire a stronger connection with others from the church.

  • Where else in our society do we expect people to wear a name tag in a public meeting?
    Conferences have them – but everyone gets one and everyone expects one and only booked-in delegates attend – not people off the street.

    We are the Church – the family of God – the body of Christ – a place where we don’t do anything to exclude people. A board full of name tags as you enter immediately tells you who is ‘in’ and who is an ‘outsider.’ I could not think of a more anti-Christian way to greet newcomers.

    The fact is, there will be people who will definitely not attend a Church because of the presence of name tags – however I am sure you will not lose anyone because you do NOT have name tags. That fact alone should kill this divisive practice.

    We are supposed to be getting to know people the normal, old fashioned way, by actually talking to them and introducing ourselves and asking them their name and learning how to remember names … not by gazing at each other’s chest and reading a printed tag!? How clinical and ‘seminar-like’ can you get?!

    Name tags make us lazy and far from encouraging genuine fellowship, they actually work against it. Some suggest that nobody is ‘left-out’ because we can make up name tags for new comers on the spot do they don’t feel left out. How intimidating is that?! A total stranger wants to stick your name on your chest before you even get in the door and decide if you even want to be in the this place!!

    A certainly degree of anonymity when people first arrive at a Church is actually a good thing – it gives them the freedom to just slip in and not feel pounced upon and branded like cattle being put through a crush! If nobody knows that person’s name before they leave that first time, then we have failed to be a normal, friendly Church … but there are far less threatening ways to find their name than drafting them into the name badge union!

    I am now part of a denomination which seems to love name tags and yet I doubt that 99% of people who think they are a great idea have ever stopped to ponder some of the issues I have raised here.

  • wes henson says on

    We have just started wearing nametags in our congregation. The youth initiated it on their own. AND, it just spread. I have to laugh at all the controversy presented in the comments.

    As in all other aspects of church, no one forces anyone to do anything. Those that want to, wear them; those who won’t, don’t.

    And we ALL move forward…

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