When I became a volunteer at my previous church, the youth ministry didn’t have a name. ‘Youth group’, that was basically it. As my husband and I became involved in the youth ministry’s leadership, we convinced the other leaders of the importance of a name, and thus an identity.
So instead of coming up with names ourselves, we ran a contest. Everyone in the church could enter: students, parents, members, visitors, you name it. We announced it a few times in church, which also increased awareness something was happening in the youth ministry. Our price for the winner was very simple: a home-made apple pie (which turned out to be a huge succes with the winner by the way!)
This resulted in a list of about 30 names. We then crossed off a few ones we felt didn’t meet our requirements and put the rest on a short list. We checked this list with the senior pastor and the board, just to make sure they didn’t object to any of them.
Now it was time for the students to make their choice. In a special event, we let all the students cast a ballot to pick their favorite name. It was a close race, but fortunately we had a clear winner.
And it worked. Our new name ‘stuck’ fast and after just a few months, everybody in the church used it when referring to the youth ministry.
Choosing Your Youth Group’s Name
Obviously, this is just one way of going about it and there are many more ways of choosing a new name for your youth group or youth ministry (did you know there’s apparently a difference between these two terms?). But keep a few things in mind:
- If you run a contest of any kind, or do a brainstorm with others, come up with ‘requirements’ for the possible names first. For instance that it has to be short, or that it has to say something about your denomination, or that it should somehow have the word ‘youth’ in it.
- make sure the name is cleared with the senior pastor and the elders, or whoever is ‘in charge’ in your church.
- check to make sure there’s not a youth group close by with the same name, or if there’s somehow a trademark on the name.
- very practical issue: if you want a social media account or website with the name of your youth group, check to see if the option is still available. Saves you a huge headache later on.
- involving students in both brainstorming new names and choosing a new names is a huge step in getting them to enthusiastically embrace the name. The same is true for your leaders.
- involving the rest of the church is a great way of making your youth ministry visible, of creating a positive ‘vibe’.
How did you choose the name of your youth group or youth ministry?