Recently I visited a church and went by their guest center to find a Bible study group to attend. I was warmly greeted and asked to complete a form. I was also provided a stick on name tag to wear. Within minutes I was escorted through the building and shown the room of the group I had chosen.
Though I had arrived on campus prior to the start of the Bible study hour, my time in the guest center meant arriving to the classroom after the group had begun. I quietly sat down while others in the group were sharing prayer requests.
Recognizing a guest had entered the room; the teacher stopped taking prayer requests and announced, “Class, we have a visitor with us today!” Spotting my name tag, he then introduced me to the class by name. Everyone smiled and said, “Hello!” in a friendly manner. The teacher then asked everyone in the class to introduce themselves. Down the row they went, calling their names: “I’m Mark.” “Hi, I’m Mark’s wife, Julie.” “I’m Melissa.” “I’m Trent.” On and on — 22 people calling out their names! Though everyone was friendly, the problem I faced was no one had on a name tag except me! Picture the situation: I was to remember 22 names and the class members had to remember one name. But who had on the name tag? Me!
Name tags create a warm, inviting atmosphere among your group members. We wear name tags, not for the members of our group, but because we expect guests and new members every week. Name tags make guests feel welcome, lower their anxiety, and make them feel more a part of the group.
My friend, David Francis, says name tags provide confidence to members and enhance discussion and prayer. People can confidently call one another by name. Name tags (especially if you print first names larger than last names) prevent people from saying, “I’d like to add to what she said …” or from praying, “Lord please provide for our brother who lost his job.” The bottom line is name tags do much to build community.
Name tags don’t have to be fancy or expensive. The simple stick on “Hello! My Name Is …” name tag works perfectly fine. Get a box of self-stick name tags and a Sharpie marker, and you’re set. In fact, I prefer self stick name tags to computer generated name tags. When a guest or new member attends, his or her name tag will look just like everyone else’s in the room. Otherwise, guests appear to have the “cheap” name tag while everyone else has the “premium” name tag. With self-stick name tags you also don’t have to worry about a member inadvertently wearing their name tag home and forgetting to bring it back the following week.
Name tags can also help your group members learn more than each other’s names. For example, everyone could print something different below their name each week, such as their favorite color, the high school they attended, favorite food item, or anything else. This can also help your members connect with one another.
Start wearing name tags this week. They will help your group members connect more deeply to one another, and it will serve as a reminder that we expect guests and new members every time we meet!
Alan Raughton serves as adult ministry specialist at LifeWay. For 19 years Alan has trained Christian Educators and Adult Ministry leaders around the country. He especially enjoys training and coaching Adult Bible study leaders and Adult Ministry professionals. A student of history, Alan enjoys reading biographies and books on historical events. He has been married to his college sweetheart, Ruth, since 1980. They are the parents two grown children.