I wouldn't usually consider church name tags to be a blog-worthy subject but as I was thinking the other day about our church's plan to create name tags for all our members I decided that there's actually something interesting about it. it got me thinking about what my generation looks for in church and in relationships.
So far I think I'm the only person on our church council that has any real problem with the idea of making name tags. This is surprising to me because it sounds like such a bad idea. But as I was thinking about it the other day I realized that it's possible that none of my problems with name tags would even make sense to our older members which comprise the vast majority of our membership. Our generations simply interpret things differently.
The older generations don't have a problem with wearing a name tag at church, in fact they'd probably appreciate people being able to call them by name without knowing them at all. And that is precisely what my generation wouldn't appreciate. Of all the things people go to church for, the most vitally important thing to my generation is authenticity. We're tired of the stale taste of dishonesty and the masks people so often wear when they go to church (masks of all-togetherness, happiness, and religiosity). We're hungry for authentic community where people are honest about their faith and honest in their relationships. The very idea of people wearing name tags at church would at very least send up red flags for folks like me. We might ask, "if people really care about each other here, why do they need to fake like they know each other? If they knew each other, why would they need name tags? Why don't they just be honest and do the work of asking for each other's names?" People like me would find name tags to be fake at best and intrusive at worst--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.
My generation is hungry for a church that is real, where we can all come as we are without faking anything. We really are hungry for relationships that go beyond the shaking of hands and reading of name tags (even if we spoil that with "social networking"). We want church where people don't just know names but actually know us. Slapping a name tag on and reading other's tags just spoils our apetites for any further intimacy and for the work which must must be put into authentic relationships.