What’s up buddy? Hey pal! Hey, how are (you) today? Hello friend! Hey bro! If you are a youth worker, you have (without question) used these phrases in the last week. It can be crazy difficult to remember the names of the students in your small group, let alone, the names of EVERY kid in the entire ministry! However, names matter in student ministry. I was reminded of that this last Wednesday…
After our mid-week programming, all the High School students go grab fast food together. We are stuck in a Chic-fil-a, Canes, Whataburger, In-and-Out rotation with the occasional Panda Express. We usually have a good showing and fill half a restaurant.
This past Wednesday as I was carrying my food and making my way around to all the tables, I stopped at one table of chatty girls. After a few minutes of dialogue, one girl looks at me with doubt in her eyes and asks, “Do you know my name?”
You’ve been here before. This one question, sparked the rest of the table to look at me and ask one-by-one, “Do you know my name?” “I’ve been coming here a year, do you know my name?” “You better know my name!” “I know your full name, so you better know my name!”
Here’s the deal. I’m not what you would call a “names guy.” I have a hard time memorizing names and remembering the names of people who come and go. However, this hasn’t stopped me from doing my best to remember names. At this particular moment, I happen to know the names of everyone around the table, except one with whom I simply hadn’t had much interaction.
The questions kept coming… “What’s my name?” “What’s my name?” “What’s my name?”
No getting out of this one. No leaders at the table to help me out. No sidestepping or moving the conversation along…they were adamant that I demonstrate my knowledge of their identity.
I used wit. “Bailey, stop asking me that.” “Maddie, I don’t know your name,” “Alexis, who are you?” (Two more left…can’t remember one of them…oh man! Play it off!) “I can’t believe you guys are making me do this! Haha! (I walk away as they are laughing.)
I know this scenario hits home. I probably should have just asked the girl her name, apologized, and moved on, but I’m pretty sure I did that last time I saw her…sigh.
Our students long to be known. In a social media driven culture, where students can be followed by everyone, they are truly known by few. This makes the job of a Small Group Leader all the more important. Small Groups should be a place “where everybody knows your name…dnuh dnuh dnuh…and you’re always glad you came.”
If you don’t know every kid in your ministry, make sure that someone does. In larger ministries, make sure you are pushing your Small Group Leaders to memorize names. Names matter. Names matter, because there is a soul behind each name that needs to know:
1) there is a God who knows them better than they know themselves and desires a relationship with them and
2) they have a gospel community and small group where they can be known in the midst of their hurts, pains, joy’s and successes.
Challenge: Name every kid in your small group. Convicted? Good!
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David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava, Ben & Madelyn, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.