What’s in a name?

25 May

Stop confusing people with insider language.

Church leaders as a rule are creative people, and we often get caught in our own web of creativity. We dream up ministry concepts and church programs, and in order to make it shine just right, we want to give the creation the perfect, clever, creative name. Alternatively, church leaders use acronyms to name areas, events or programs in the church. Both of these approaches create confusion.

Here are some thoughts on why you should simplify terminology in your church.

Make disciples, not noobs.

1. Confusing terminology creates a hurdle between your guests and your congregation.People who are coming into your congregation want to know if they belong with your tribe. Confusing terminology presents the image that there are insiders who “get it” and everyone else are outsiders.

2. Confusing terminology disrupts assimilation. New members in the congregation want more than anything to fit in and become fully integrated members. Cute names and acronyms become a reminder that new members are still “rookies” and not full members of the congregation.

3. Confusing terminology works against your communications. Speakers and writers have to work around the clever names or the acronyms when communicating information and this works against clear, simple communication. The energy spent explaining these words could better be spent communicating the essential information.

4. Acronyms are easily misinterpreted (and reinterpreted). When people do not know the meaning of the acronym, they will begin creating their own meanings. As a former student minister, trust me when I tell you this is not a good thing. Sometimes people will make their best guess and get it wrong. Sometimes people will simply take delight in making up their own meanings that serve to erode your credibility.

5. Figure out what it is and call it that. Imagine the conversation that you have to have in order to explain what something is. “The luncheon will be held in the FLC.” “What’s the FLC?” “The Family Life Center.” “And that is what?” “The gym.” “Oh!” Figure out what it is and then do as best as you can to name it what it is. This example can be used to designate areas of your facility, publications, ministry programs, minister titles and more.

Recently, we started sending out daily email updates to our congregation in order to update people on prayer needs and any breaking news. A conversation started over what we would call this. “The Belton Blast,” “The E-vangelist,” and other names were thrown out. I thought about the confusion we were building and suggested calling it the Daily Update.

It is a small thing to be sure, but it speaks to the passion to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Every little thing counts to create a certain culture in your congregation. Simple terminology is an intentional decision to make it easy for people to belong, to assimilate and to communicate. In short, it is a healthy choice for your congregation.

What is the most confusing name you have heard at a


Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “What’s in a name?

  1. riley watkins

    May 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm


    Abididing in Christ, Believing His Word, Living Epistles, Active Witnesses, Zealous Soulwinners, Excited Examples….yep. Saw this one at a Baptist church back home. Sometimes we try too hard…especially youth ministers to make up a catchy acronym and we end up with ^^^^ that kind of result. Here is an acronym for ya…K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid =) haha

    • jordanhubbard

      May 26, 2011 at 1:16 am

      I can only reply with LOL!!! I have seen some pretty dense acronyms. And I have to admit, I made some pretty bad ones in my time!

  2. Donny Vaughn

    May 26, 2011 at 3:17 am

    There was a church in the Southlake area called “Christ Our King” that posted a banner outside their church advertising their VBS obviously done by their children’s ministry … at the end it said “sponsored by COK Kids” …

    Uh … I’m not joking and sorry to turn this comment into a NC-17 rating! 🙂

    I think I almost drove off the road watching and laughing!! Probably not exactly what you were looking for but it immediately came to mind!! Off to the FLC for our pre-worship meal!! 🙂

    • jordanhubbard

      May 26, 2011 at 4:45 am

      Ok Donnie, you have drawn my worst one out. A few years ago we had a weight loss group form called “Sticks of Butter.” No joke. They started abbreviating their meetings in the bulletin. “S.O.Bs will meet in the FLR”


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