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.

PhD_ThomRainer

photo credit: Hello, my name is anonymous via photopin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

83 Comments

  • Agree 100% that I hope this is satire. Our church would be horrified if we implemented this, as would most guests. In studying church plants I have heard several stories of this being tried and guests really not liking it. This is like the mid service greeting time, it comes off as phony. Our church is a family, and you don’t wear name tags with your family or ask new guests to do this. I’m the ex pastor of a church of about 350, about half millennial.

  • I HATE name tags with a passion. When I wear one people put their faces all up on my personal space trying to read my name! I get a lot of “Car, Car, uhhhhh Cathy??? From there I have to waste a lot of time trying to help that person pronounce my name and explain why my parents chose it for me.

    I think name tags would just be to awkward for new comers to a church. New comers want to feel welcomed but not put in the spotlight, especially if they may have unique name.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Appreciate your taking the time to contribute, Carrine.

    • Try it as a part of a high attendance campaign or a revival meeting. Always wear it on your right side as it can be read as you shake hands. Our post-modern world respects people building relationships rather than maintain the status quo.

  • Wearing name tags every week has it’s advantages, but their are significant challenges. Having visited a name-tag church, 1) It’s weird…no place else in life has everyone wearing a nametag every time they are together. Church is weird enough. 2) Guests may feel “singled out” if the tag is different, they’ll notice the color difference right away. I did. 3) Some guests prefer to be a bit anonymous and this forces them to NOT be invisible and they will know it. 4) Slows people down getting into worship. Our cultures tend to run late as it is, this is one more step/line/process that will get people in later.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Thanks, Dave, for your reflections.

    • Andy Monk says on

      Hi Chuck, I really like the idea and have been thinking of promoting this idea to my church for some time. I’m a bit surprised at the numerous negative comments about this simple concept, such as .. as David’s comment..”No where else in life to people wear name tags”. Really? I served in the military and wore my name and rank on my uniform every day – as it is not an option to not know the members of your unit by name. Many large corporations require employees and contractors to wear picture ID/name badges in plain site at all times. Why could Christians not be bothered with the simple task to wear a name badge to help identify themselves to members and guests alike? For those who wish to remain anonymous in your Church congregation – that strikes me as not wanting to truly belong to a body of Christ and become a community of like minded servants.

  • Nametags ? Really ? To a congregation on a Sunday morning. Humm, uh no
    It won’t go over very well. We try it all the time at special events and fellowships. We see about 50% participation and yes someone must clean up. Also it is difficult to read hand written names and there are visitors who would be too shy for this.
    Name tags don’t even work in our small groups and bible studies. Shy people refuse.
    Nice thought but not practical at least for our church.

  • Charlie Wallace says on

    Don’t want to be a Debbie Downer…but…most churches would have a very difficult time getting the majority of people to wear them. Our greeters wear them. But imagining some of our members wearing (or even choosing to wear) name tags, makes me chuckle. I imagine in many churches, this could even lead to discord.

    • Start from the top. The leaders on the platform, elders, deacons, and ministry team leaders. Some will naturally resist, but leaders casting the vision and giving the initiative credit will work long-term.

      • Chuck Lawless says on

        Thanks, Brian. It doesn’t always work, but I agree with your proposed process.

      • Craig Giddens says on

        …. ahhhh …. there’s that phrase again …. “leaders casting the vision’ …

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Thanks, Charlie, for your input.

  • As I am on a new field this would be a huge help to me! I also know that everyone doesn’t know everyone else so I plan to employ this right away!

  • I feel that this is quite silly.
    A congregation that is too big for people to know each other ought to consider developing/planting another church.
    Bigger is not better, in terms of fellowship, or the dissemination of biblical doctrine.
    As a pastor who has been in. Church of 800 and now a church of 50, the 50 get more done, percentage wise, than the 800.

    Those in the bigger churches believe that their size gives them the authority to teach a smaller church how to “do church”.
    My experience is that the bigger church can learn a lot more from the smaller church.

  • Good article! We did this when we were smaller, running around 450, but we’ve almost tripled in size. Our church was built in 3 stages over 55 years, and we don’t have a “main entrance,” we have 4! We’re now consistently over 1,350 on Sundays with 4 different services. Anyone have any practical ideas on getting this done without it being burdensome (i.e. people having to wait to enter b/c other people are at the doors writing out their nametags, etc.). I like the idea, but I can’t see how it would work with our present set-up. Thanks!

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      You’re right, Bill, that the process gets more complicated in situations like yours. I suspect, though, that you could have enough folks at each entrance encouraging the name tags to facilitate this process– especially if you have some folks who still remember when it worked. Blessings on your work.

    • jonathon says on

      When a person becomes a member, they get a plastic name-tag.
      When they become an elder / deacon/ Sunday school teacher / whatever, they get a new name-tag.

      If a visitor wants a name-tag, they can have a paper one.

      That leaves out the regular non-member attenders. If there are enough of them to be noticeable, then you have a different set of issues to deal with.

  • Interesting.
    I wonder if the size of the church makes a difference here? Would it be more or less beneficial for name tags based on the size of the congregation?
    I also wonder if you have seen different size congregations use this practice?

    Our church is at the 250 barrier in worship services.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Thanks, John. I have seen both small church plants and larger churches move in this direction. It’s not easy at any level, but I still believe it has merit.

  • It can promote laziness when remembering names. It can also make an outsider feel like they stand out too much. I have heard of one church who prints out labels of members each week and then new ones for guests. They then mark the role based on name tags not taken.
    We currently do nothing, but it has forced me to get better on names.

  • I’m really surprised that is presented as a good idea. It’s not written as irony is it? I’m really sorry but I think this is a terrible idea. I think the folks who don’t like the meet and greet time would find this idea even more difficult. Personally I couldn’t imagine this working in any church with which I consult.

    So am I really missing the point or does any one agree with me?!?

  • GREAT idea! I’ve been for this, for years. I think it maybe be members’ pride …. “I don’t want folks to know I don’t remember their names…” … that keeps this from happening.

    One big advantage: you could use one color for members and one for visitors.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Thanks, Bob.

    • Jim Watson says on

      I would not color code visitors like that. That is just another version of having all of the visitors stand up during the worship service. Few visitors want to be singled out. None want to be seen as the next target for the tally sheet. I would use the same color for visitors, members, and others. It promotes the idea that we are all basically the same.

      If you want to color code someone, make the name tags for the church leaders different so that the visitors will know who to go see for more information. Put their title on the name tag, too. It will also tell the person that their first grader is being turned over to the proper first grade Sunday School teacher, for instance.

      The first step toward having a person join your church should not be to make them feel (and look) like an outsider.

1 2 3 4