My high school youth ministry is called FLY, which stands for Faith Lutheran Youth. It’s a name I inherited and truthfully, it’s not one I love… Especially since I’m surrounded by much cooler sounding youth ministries:
I’ll admit it: Sometimes, I suffer from youth group name envy.
As a result, I’ve often considered changing the name of my youth ministry, something lots of youth workers do after starting a position at a new church in order to better reflect who they are, what their ministry’s purpose is, and give teens a cool name they can utter in school without embarrassment.
I’ve even gone so far as to brainstorm new youth ministry names. I’ve spent hours coming up with creative, catchy, meaningful names that cleverly relate to Scripture.
Once, early on in my ministry at my church, I even went so far as to present these awesome names to my student leaders.
They looked at me like I was nuts.
“Why would we want to change the name of FLY?” they questioned in unison.
“Because it’s an awful acronym,” I thought to myself.
Instead, I said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a cooler name? Wouldn’t it be awesome if our name had meaning? Wouldn’t it be great if our name was better known? Don’t you want to be able to talk about our youth ministry with your friends?”
In response, my student leaders explained that I was too new to understand that our youth ministry’s name did have meaning – to them as well as the generations of people before them who were also part of FLY. They reminded me that our name is known to our congregation. They assured me that they do talk about our youth ministry with their friends. If our youth ministry was doing something worth talking about – whether that be an individual discussion or an event – they talked about it. More often than not, when they did, they didn’t refer to it by it’s name anyway. Instead, they called it their youth group so people would understood what they were talking about.
What I learned from that conversation with my teens is that ministry names matter far more to youth workers than they do to students. WE want our name to sound professional. WE want to be able to proudly and unashamedly talk about our youth ministry’s name amongst other youth workers. WE want to be taken seriously in the youth ministry world and we fear that without a good ministry name, we won’t be.
But here’s the thing.
Most of our teens don’t care what we call our youth ministries.
So let’s stop wasting our time creating clever names that usually don’t outlast our tenure at a church anyway.
Let’s stop envying the name of the youth group down the street.
Let’s stop defining our worth as youth workers by something as ridiculous as our youth group’s name.
Instead, let’s get back to loving and discipling teens and encouraging them to grow in their relationship with Jesus and each other.
When teens are known and cared for, they’ll show up – and they’ll invite their friends to come – regardless of whether your ministry is called Elevate, FLY, or simply “the youth ministry.”
Other posts in this series: