One of the most important decisions you need to make in your ministry is your choice of names. Names for the youth ministry as a whole. Names for special groups/teams in your ministry. Names for weekly programs and special events.
So how do you choose those names?
For Your Ministry
When it comes to the overall name for your ministry, be clear and specific. Yes, catchy names may sound cool and look better on a tshirt, but there is a definite downside to clever names: if they’re not obvious to outsiders, they become a hurdle for new students wanting to join.
If a new student visits your church, you want him to know right away what ministries are designed for him. Think about it, when they scan your bulletin (or more likely, your website), you want to make sure you name jumps out at them. If I’m a high school student, the title “High School Ministry” will grab my attention immediately – I know it’s for me, and I’ll click on it just to find out what this church has to offer me. If your church is filled with ministries like Refuge, Fusion, Edge, and Blaze, I might click one or two, but if I didn’t find something relevant to me in those two, I’ll probably give up.
So if I was naming your high school ministry what would I name it? Something simple like “High School Ministry”. And please, always use the word “ministry” instead of “group” (ministries are outwardly focused and build up the kingdom, groups are focused inward and build up cliques).
For Special Groups and Teams
This one is simple: if the team exists to serve others or if you are constantly recruiting members, their name needs to be descriptive of what they are.
Is it the team of students who welcomes and greets everyone as they walk in the door? Call them the Welcome Team. Is it the team who runs the media and sound for Youth Nights? Media Team seems like a fitting name. Got a bunch of parents who gather together to pray for your teens? Prayer Team.
If it’s a team that isn’t serving others and you’re not regularly inviting and adding new members, then you probably should get rid of that team. Or at the very least, they don’t really need a name.
For Your Weekly Programs
Regular event names can be a little more creative but should still somewhat descriptive. The rule of thumb is that a new student should get some idea what to expect from the name alone.
Every week after Mass, we’d head down to the youth room to have dinner, hang out, play video games and shoot pool. It was a laid back party every week after Mass, so we called it AfterParty. It sounds cooler than “Hangout Night”, but it gives students a heads up on what to expect–they weren’t going to show up on a Sunday night and be caught off guard by an in-depth bible study.
For More Specific Things
Some programs need a little more creativity to really shine. Your weekly Youth Nights for example: Don’t get rid of the descriptive program name (Youth Nights works just fine), but feel free to come up with names for individual nights or series. Keep calling it your Fall Retreat, but make sure you’ve got a brandable, interest-grabbing theme for the weekend.
For the Love of God: Get Rid of Acronyms
Church people are really good at creating acronyms. Too good. Acronyms are confusing and quickly make people feel like they’re on the outside looking in. Do whatever you can to get away from using acronyms, or if you HAVE to use one, make sure you explain it every time you use it around any student who might not know what it means.
So what do you think? How are you naming your ministries? What’s working / not working?