6 Questions To Ask As You Are Naming Ministries/Programs

Steve Cullum
March 30th, 2020

What’s in a name? Does your ministry or program need a catchy name? How do you pick a name that lasts? How do you pick one that will actually get used? How do you differentiate your 180 Youth Group from the dozens of other 180 Youth Groups out there? More importantly, do you even need a name?

This leads me to ask once again what’s in a name? In William Shakespeare’s famous play, Juliet asks that question of Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Perhaps we should ponder that same question and a few more as we consider how to name our ministries and programs. 

Here are six questions you should ask when it comes to naming:

Does your ministry/program need a name?

First of all, it is very important to consider the need for a name in the first place. Do not feel like everything you do must have a name. Some ministries and programs can function just as well without a name. I have found many teenagers just want to call things what they are. But after praying about it and seeking wise counsel, you still feel like it needs a name, move on to the next question. If you don’t feel like it is necessary, then just stop right here, move on, and no one will probably even know you were questioning it.

Should it match the church’s name?

Many churches have been moving away from names that drastically differentiate one ministry from another. While some had names that did fit an overall theme, some church’s youth ministries were called something like Agape, their kids ministry was called Kid Town, and their men’s ministry went by Men of Action. Today we are seeing more cohesion in the names. This especially helps those who are not yet familiar with your church. When they see something like Calvary Students and Calvary Kids, they get it.

What name will make sense?

No matter which naming convention you go with at your church or in your ministry, it needs to make sense to two groups of people: the “insider” and the “outsider.” If either group does not understand the purpose or the meaning behind the name, it will not work well. You should not have to explain your name to everyone. You may have a deeper meaning behind it, which is great, but the basic idea of what you name something needs to make sense without further explanation.

What name will make it unique?

You want your name to be unique, connecting to the vision God has given for your specific ministry. And as I stated earlier, there are names we see over and over again. So make sure you do not recycle a name by doing your research. Figure out what names have been used before at your church and if they did or did not work (and why). Find out what other youth ministries in your area are called, and make sure you do not copy someone. Also do some research on area businesses, restaurants, and more. You don’t want to name your youth group something that gets confused for the coffee shop downtown.

What name will have longevity?

This is a difficult question, as none of us know the future. Nevertheless, it is important to choose a name that you think will be timeless. Why? Because you do not want to go through a renaming process every couple of years. Not only will that add more sideways energy to your ministry, but it also means your people are going to have to learn new language every few years when the trends change. If you need help in this, find some marketing specialists in your church or community to help you.

What name will give you flexibility?

Similar to choosing names with longevity, it is important to choose something that is flexible. This allows you to make small tweaks over time. Maybe you can use that same name for each of your programs by simply adding Worship or Youth Group after it, as in Refuge Worship and Refuge Youth Group. You could also pick a name that gives you a flexible theme. For example, if you picked Rooted for your ministry name, you could go with a tree theme for your programs.

If I were to answer Juliet, I would say there is importance in a name, because it often signifies identity. Whether it should or not, Romeo was seen as a Montague, and that carried certain implications from their culture. What you name your ministry or program will have intended and unintended implications to your culture. 

Yes, naming might seem like one of those things that we should just do quickly and move on, but consider the alternative. Make sure you are wise and consider what a good name will provide for you and your community. 

Of course, as I said in the beginning, do not feel like you have to give your ministries and programs separate names at all. In fact, many church marketing experts claim we should be a “branded house” rather than a “house of brands.”

Steve Cullum

Steve Cullum is the student pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, CO, where he oversees their ministry to sixth through twelfth grade students and their families. He also hosts The Student Ministry Podcast and volunteers for the National Network of Youth Ministries. You can follow him on Twitter @stevecullum.

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