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.


photo credit: Hello, my name is anonymous via photopin

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  • So based on this logic we should wear name tags at a regular job and just about anywhere we go?

  • I understand the pro name tag people but, honestly as a 15 year member of the church, I just have no use for them. At Annual Conference I find myself constantly in the, “should I ask them to turn their name tag around or ask them out right what their name is,” trap. Both seem embarrassing to me because it means, hey I have no idea who you are and there is no graceful way to get out of this. I find stickers even more awkward because as a woman there aren’t many places to put a name tag that doesn’t make it feel like your inviting people to take a look at your ……….. what’s the proper term in a church setting? Chest, bosom, breasts. Granted one would HOPE in church no one is there to be checking such things out, but for a modest girl who is fortunate or unfortunate enough to be “well endowed”(depending on how they see it) it becomes tiresome in the secular world to remind people that your face is a little further north. Having to endure it at church because that’s the most natural place for a woman to place a name tag sticker is just pushing me too far. For me after so many years at the church, honestly I’ll respond to hey you, over there, heck I even responded to MOM once and I’m not even a mother…………

  • I suppose it depends on the area of the country and the demographics of the congregation, but if I visited a church that had nametags, I would probably conclude that it was having some problems and felt it needed to do something like this to try to stop a slide in attendance. Nametags to me seem forced and stage-managed.

  • We started name tags back in September and while a few of the “old timers” don’t like it the overwhelming response has been positive. We are seeing more new faces than ever at our church and those working in the name tag ministry usually remember the new peoples names by the 3rd week and they are busy introducing them to other people week after week.

  • I’ve been attending a different church because I’m going with the man I am dating. I’ve been attending for a few months, and honestly, just this past Sunday I noticed quite a few people wearing name tags. I can’t believe I never noticed before(the guy I’m dating doesn’t wear one). I guess I thought we were sitting in a section with volunteers. The name tags do not bother me at all, I think its a great idea.
    I am not offended that the people where I am visiting are wearing name tags and would be happy to wear one. It wouldn’t bother me if others were not wearing one. I wouldn’t spend my time thinking about it.
    I would say if you’re not comfortable with wearing one, then don’t wear one. But have the option for those who want to. : )

  • People don’t like being processed. So whatever you do, do it with the Golden Rule in mind. If everyone sucks it up and speaks to people they don’t know, to engage them in meaningful conversation things naturally flow. You can’t remember a thousand names and neither can anyone else but you can remember the names of the people you have a meaningful relationship with. If you need to move a name from short term memory to long term memory put a note in your phone. Name tags … maybe … but get the conversation part right first. Move from mouth-to-mouth through head-to-head to get to heart-to-heart more often and you probably won’t notice whether or not they are wearing a name tag.

  • I have enjoyed reading the post both pro and con. I know of a church that averages 4000 in worship attendance. Everyone attending goes to a kiosk and ‘checks in.’ This accomplishes three things: 1. As a first time guest, you are registering your visit i.e. filling out a guest card. 2. Those regular attenders/members are all getting a printed name tag from a kiosk. This church has multiple kiosks staffed with volunteers in case there are any questions or anyone needs assistance. 3. It captures a very accurate attendance number for each service.
    Having printed name badges looks great and everyone’s badge looks identical except for the name of course.

  • Bill Wimp says on

    Sadly, most church goers don’t want to be known, or know others. They want to attend the service on Sunday morning, go to brunch, check off the box in their list of what “good” Chistians do and wait to do it all again next Sunday.

    Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, the church goers say it’s all about me and my comfort level.

  • Great idea. The book Divine Renovation by Fr. James Mallon points out how a Catholic church tried this successfully.