Everybody knows who I am!
This week’s tip for integrating church and community – The wearing of name badges
For many years I resisted the idea of wearing a name badge on my chest at church services or other public gatherings. Perhaps I was a bit shy about revealing my identity. Perhaps I thought it to be something of an ego trip and that I would be just big-noting myself.
I have now changed my mind when it comes to church services or to public gatherings where there are strangers. Perhaps it has become even more important when there are very few strangers who may feel somewhat isolated within a group of others well-known to me.
The trouble with assuming that everybody knows us when it comes to integrating church and community, or simply making strangers welcome, is that we are seeing the question from our own point of view.
What about the stranger, especially one who is coping with growing deafness? She or he is feeling uneasy about being in an unfamiliar environment. Being enabled to learn somebody’s name without the embarrassment, potential discourtesy and perceived “forwardness” in asking for it, can go some way to making the stranger feel comfortable in that environment.
And this need not only be in incorporation of brand new people. Sometimes it can take a very, very long time to get to know the names of people whom we may greet from week to week and yet never manage to put a label to the face.
To my chagrin and shame this week I was told of the untimely death of a person connected from time to time with our congregation. I could not recognise the name but was staggered to find that he had been associated intermittently with us for the past 10 years!
There is a most damaging implication from the declaration, “I don’t need a name badge because everybody knows who I am”. It reveals a mindset that assumes that the membership of the group is static and there is no expectation of new people coming along.
So let’s not be shy of displaying our names when it is our hope to make people welcome.
To have the name of our denomination or congregation on a badge may be additionally helpful but the more space available to make the lettering easily visible may also be an advantage.
I am not the first male to feel some nervousness at misperceived intentions in staring intently at a lady’s breasts because of my unreliable vision.
Badges are readily available from the Internet and probably other sources and in my case, recently, cost about $10 each.