Do you know the names of the names that you minister to?
This question was posed to a group of children’s pastors last night at CMConnect Children’s Ministry Conference in Corydon, IN by family pastor Brad Tate. It was a simple question really: Do you know the names of the next circle?
In other words, if I am a small group leader, and I have seven kids in my group that I minister to, it is assumed that I know those kids names. But do I know the names that surround that child? Do I know Mom, Dad, brother, sister? Do I know their teacher’s name, their coach, their grandparents? Or is my connection with them limited to one name –theirs.
I was convicted by this question. I think it is an important one to ask.
Because knowing the names of those that surround the ones we minister to says a lot. It says that we are interested in more than just the one hour that we see them on Sunday. It says that we are aware of the fact that their lives are full of people and influences and events that are bigger than them.
Knowing the names that surround the names of those we minister to says relationship, says care, says love and belonging. It says, “You, all of you, is important.”
How do I know this? Well, as Brad demonstrated last night, we know the names of the names of the ones we love. Think about your best friend. Do you know their parent’s name? Their kids? Their siblings? Their pets? Of course, because we know them…all of them. And we know that these other names, these other people, have a profound influence on the ones we love.
How does this translate to the larger faith community?
Simply this – if we don’t know the names, they will go to wherever the names will be known.
If we don’t know the names, they will seek belonging and knowing somewhere else. Because that need to be known and loved is in each of us and we will seek it out if we are not experiencing it.
In many churches, it is not unusual for the older generations to not know the names of the younger generations and vice versa. It’s not even unusual for the adults who sit next to each other in a given service to know each other’s names.
Could you imagine what would happen if each person committed to know the names of the names…maybe not of every single person but maybe five, or ten or even twenty? To know the names of the names. To be able to greet by name and ask about family members by name and to acknowledge the importance of the names to that person.
I’ve often heard it is said (and probably said myself) how important it is to know a child’s name; the power in that and the love that they experience. Can you imagine how that would compound if we knew the names of the names? And the message that would send to every child, every parent, every grandparent, every person who walked through your church doors?
Messages like, “Welcome! You belong. You are important. You are known.”
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.