I wouldn't usually consider church name tags to be a blog-worthy subject but I was thinking the other day about our church's plan to create name tags. Some members including staff, deacons and their wives have already received their name tags, lucky me. I'm not exactly sure when "church name-tag launch day" will take place but as you can tell from my tone, I'm not too thrilled. To top things off, I just received a message that my name badge will be needed for our marriage retreat this weekend. I'll be leaving mine at home on purpose.
Upon receiving my name badge a couple of weeks ago I immediately thought, "HOW DARE WE STEAL THIS IDEA FROM THE MORMONS!" Our church even bought a machine specifically for making name badges on the spot so no one would miss out on the fun. I typically would feel uncomfortable at a church where everyone had a name tag on.
Regardless of my bitter rage and sarcastic tone, I do have legitimate justification for my negative opinion. But so far I think I'm the only person at our church that has any real problem with the idea. However, it's possible that none of my problems with name tags would even make sense to most of our members who are older than me (which comprise the vast majority of our membership). Our generations simply interpret things differently.
I'm sure my church sees this as an opportunity to embody the whole idea of "loving relationships" and granted learning everyone's name could be a start. I'll be the first to admit our church is quite big and with the mixture of diversity remembering 16 different Chan's, Li's and Tsang's can be quite challenging. There are people I speak to every Sunday and it's hard for me to recall their name. But whatever happened to asking someone's name and remembering it? I'm not saying I'm a rockstar at name memorization, but the principle is pretty universal. If you care enough, you'll remember it.
I think the majority of my church doesn't have a problem with wearing a name tag because they would probably just appreciate people being able to call them by name without knowing them at all. And that is precisely what I don't appreciate. Of all the things people go to church for, the most important thing to my generation is authenticity. I'm really tired of the stale taste of dishonesty and the masks people so often wear when they go to church. I'm really hungry for authentic community where people are honest about their faith and honest in their relationships. If we really cared enough and truly knew each other, why would we need name tags?
I'm truly hungry for a church that is real, one that extends further than Sunday morning. I'm guilty as charged, but am I really the only one who is hungry for relationships that go beyond the shaking of hands and reading of name tags? I don't want you to know my name unless you're interested in getting to know me. I want authenticity, so please ask for my name.