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

  • I have recently taken a new call at a church that is 2 ½ years old. The congregation implemented name tags before my arrival, and a clear majority of folks wear them. They are printed out with the church logo and look very sharp.

    Having name tags has been very helpful for me as I am learning names, but even more significant to me is that the whole church learns to be a friendly and welcoming place for attendees AND guests.

    I agree that guests shouldn’t be asked/expected to wear “guest ID.” Rather, the fact that they don’t have a name tag can serve as the signal that they are new. If they decide to take the next step and get more engaged (even before membership) they can sign up for a name tags to be printed for them too!

    There are challenges (like multiple entrances), but most people have opted in, and it seems good.

    To those who don’t use name tags, I would say that this approach is worth doing.

  • Judy Taylor says on

    At our church we asked “friendly” people to volunteer to wear name badges. We recognize some are more outgoing with others, so we ask them to sign up at the welcome center and through small groups. We use clip on badges and most pick up their badges at the welcome center each week. We designed our badges which are printed to say: Every family has a story….welcome to ours…(we use a graphic that says I love my church) and at the bottom it says “the Church at dorrisville”. We run 350-375 in attendance and have many new people attending so this helps everyone. We do not ask visitors or those uncomfortable to wear badges unless they request them. We want to love and accept people and this is one way we are able to accomplish this….I love to be able to call people by name or to be called by name. We have all ages participating, love this simple act!

  • i would argue that nametags are wasted work. I do think volunteers should have church branded lanyards with name tags, so they are easily recongizable and approachable.

    I wrote a whole series on name tags a few years ago, and I’ve been in churches that have tried them. All have been failures due to poor implementation and resistance from members in wearing them.

    http://www.evangelismcoach.org/2009/using-nametags-in-church/

    I would argure toditch the nametags on Sundays but use them in smaller metings as needed.

  • Our church did this when we were 50 people and still do it at 500, for all the reasons noted in the article. We love it and see it as important. No one is “made” to wear tags; in fact, people must sign up to have one printed. The majority do. Guests may, or may choose not to, hand write a tag by our greeters. Our leadership wear tags with name and title. I can see the difficulty at a truly large church but I would encourage those who find it cheesy or unnecessary to talk to a church who uses them successfully and ask how, and why, it works for them. Send someone to visit on a Sunday morning and watch the tags in action. If you merely sit at your desk and decide it’s a bad idea, you might be missing out on a valuable ministry tool.

    • I’d love more information on your name tag system. Can you please send me more details or put me in touch with a staff member? Where is your church located? I’d be interested in seeing this system in action.

  • Like the math test on the sign-up section.
    You may need to add a #11 reason for name tags (or the #1 reason); that the Lord says in the scripture to greet people by name. It’s very special to people. It goes right to their heart. We all know how nice it is when people remember our name.

  • This is one of those ideas that may have more to do with geography , size of church and demographics of the congregation than we realize.

    One size never fits all in our churches. Having preached all over the US for over 40 years I have learned there is no cookie cutter solution. Pastors and churches need to explore and try new ideas and be willing to quickly ditch them when they do no work.

    Failure is a key part of innovation and success. The church that refuses to change and try new things is destined to die. That you can be sure of.

    • This is probably the best response I have seen. Every church culture is different. Our church has done this for years, but now at the size we are only the 45 and up crowd does it and the younger people avoid name tags like the plague. I think in a different context/area/church this could be effective. It seems like it has lost its luster at our church but old habits die hard with some people…

  • As an introvert I’m too shy to ask people their names, but I would really LOVE to know! And I would love wearing a name tag so I don’t have to actually introduce myself! I’ve been in a great church for 2 years, but I’m sad that I’ve seen people regularly for so long and still don’t know their names. True, some people won’t participate, but many of us would be eager to.

  • Chuck,

    A couple of thoughts on this…

    I worked as an interim staff position at a larger church about three years ago and noticed that the head pastor and the full-time staff ALL wore professional name tags EVERY Sunday. They asked me to do the same even though I was just a short-term interim. At first I thought it was silly. Then, I realized that not everyone who was attending (visitor and member, alike) knew me by name and some did not even remember all the full-time staff members by name. Guess what, they never had to worry about that…because the leaders were wearing name tags. It also, helped me as I was learning the names of my fellow staff members. And then I thought, “If all the church members wore name tags, it would be so helpful to me in learning their names!”

    By the way, the argument that all the church members know each other by name is simply not true. I have served in 10 churches over 30+ years of ministry. These churches have varied in size from 100 in attendance to nearly 1000 in attendance. In EVERY church I have served it has amazed me how many times I would go up to long-time church members, point out a person in the distance, ask them if they knew that person’s name, and have them tell me they did not know them.

    Yes, it is a bit of organizational work, but it ends up being a win-win because (as you noted) you don’t have to struggle with coming up with creative ways to cover up the fact that you don’t know their name AND it creates opportunities for you to say a person’s name. It is a proven reality that the more you call a person by name the quicker you learn their name. It is also a psychological principle that when a person hears their name called it makes a positive impression on them.

    A last thought…..I especially resonated with you on #8. Most people who visit a church are either searching or hurting and are not offended if someone cares enough about them to call them by name. Sometimes, I think we worry too much about this “anonymity” thing. If people want anonymity why are they going to a setting where there will be anywhere from 50 to 5000 people all around them? Besides, the ones who don’t want to wear a name tag won’t wear one…visitor or member. No problem. But that doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. This idea can only help in the fellowship and social dynamic of a church.

  • I think SOME kind of effort needs to be made along these lines of helping people get to know each other. Quite possibly in smaller communities where more people are already connected and visitors are less frequent this is not AS much of an issue, but any church that is reaching people from different communities, towns, and social circles needs to be name-tagging or something. To hear a name AND see it helps you remember a name MORE (contrary to what someone posted earlier). In our setup/teardown church, I’m afraid that we do not have as much time to socialize and get to know others as we would like to, but I think we will make sure we do name tags for special events (even on some Sundays).

  • Mike Dowler says on

    Our goal at church is not to make everyone feel comfortable in their own little bubble, but to be growing disciples of Jesus. Name tags can help us to do that, even if not everyone takes part: it may highlight hidden issues with pride or lack of submission.

    I say this as an introvert who finds it difficult if I have to talk to more than two people on a Sunday. If Jesus was willing to go to the cross for us, should we not be willing to endure some very minor discomfort for the sake of each other?

  • I am in the process of church shopping. Most of the time when I go to church no one speaks to me other than a quick hello. It seems that passing the peace and greeting people is not part of most services anymore. I am told the to meet people, I should go to smaller Sunday school groups, that sort of thing. But it would be nice to be able to talk to someone at the service. I understand that introverted people may not like to have attention drawn to them in this way. I’m an extrovert and would love to meet people and make connections. I think the name tag idea is brilliant. It opens the door for conversation that normally would not have occurred. Thank you for bringing this up, Dr. Lawless!

  • While I would think it difficult and perhaps odd to do this every week, I was part of a church (600+) that did this every quarter or so. I’ve always thought that was a great idea and would like intorduce it it in my current setting as well.