The language we choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time. And one of the most obvious ways to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.”
In helping churches get unstuck and make vision real I’ve run across a number of insider focused ministry names. In fact here’s a link to a post with a free tool that you can use as you begin to evaluate your own ministry names and language you’re using in your church. Remember it’s always more important to be clear than clever. Here’s a quick list of 10 insider focused ministry names to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Nation2Nine: A Young Adult Ministry in a church targeting people age 20-29. While it may be clear to people inside the church what this is, it doesn’t say anything to people outside of the church.
Romeo: “Real Old Men Eating Out,” a once a week gathering of old men who eat out together and talk about God’s Word together. Acronyms are the quintessential example of insider language. If your name or brand needs an explanation it’s not clear enough.
Men on Fire: A Men’s Ministry at a church. The only problem is people outside of the church don’t think the same way or have the same filter as people inside the church. While “church people” notoriously talk about being “on fire” for Jesus, that brand may elude to something different in the minds of people outside of the church.
Chicks with Sticks: A Quilting Ministry in a church. Yes this is real. This one came from one of the participants from a recent Leadership Coaching Network that I led. It was too good not to include in this list. Let’s just say people outside of the church aren’t thinking the same things as people inside of the church when they see this ministry name.
Girlfriends Unlimited: A Women’s Ministry in a church. Again while this may be clear to people inside the church any single 20-something young man is going to sign up for this one in a heartbeat. What young man who doesn’t know Jesus doesn’t want to sign up for unlimited girlfriends?
XYZ: “Extra Years of Zest,” a ministry to Senior Adults. This is another example of an acronym that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t an insider.
Body Builders: A Bible Study at a church. It may seem cute but when an outsider sees that name they’re probably going to be asking you where the gym is.
MOPS: “Mothers of Preschoolers,” a ministry to mothers of preschoolers…or is it a cleaning ministry? Again…acronyms are dangerous.
Equally Yoked: A Marriage Ministry at a church…or an egg ministry. Outsiders have no idea what the scriptures say so be careful about using Biblical names like this.
JAM: “Jesus and Me,” the name of a Student Ministry at a church…cute…just not clear.
This post has consistently been the most popular post I’ve written over the 6 years I’ve been blogging. A lot of people end up at this site because they’re searching Google trying to find a cool name to call the new ministry at their church. I rarely re-post old content (this post is 3 years old), but the principle in this post is still relevant today…and I keep coming across insider-focused ministry names and language at churches I consult with. Why can’t churches just call things what they are and make language accessible to people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church?
I’d love to hear other examples that you’ve run across in your ministry experience, so leave a comment.
Posted in Leadership