How NOT to Name Your Youth Group

Many thanks to Youth Specialties for choosing this post to trend on their Website, August 2014!

Here beginneth the rant…

Lts xart wiv da obViouz…. we’re not five year old delinquents and the s and t keys are not missing from our keyboards.

Starting names randomly with ‘X’ and misspelling words does not make the brand cooler or more ‘uth’ friendly. It just makes us look stupid and out of touch. Xube, Xcite, Xcel, Xnite, Xplode, Xtreme… these sound like adult shops, not youth clubs!

Then there are the fire metaphors. Ignite, flame, nflame, blaze, purge… I know we want to raise passionate young people but do we really want to raise pyromaniacs? I’m sure ignite sounds cool (just like the other fifteen thousand youth clubs with that name) but what is it we are insinuating the youth club does exactly? I know there is an argument for the Holy Spirit coming down in fire… but the consuming fire that the Bible talks about might not be the fun passionate experience we’re thinking of when we came up with the name.

Then of course we have the onomatopoeic names, the louder and more zappy the better. Surge, blast, blaze, boom.. it sounds like we’re selling high speed internet.

There is also our habit of putting ‘club’ (or worse ‘squad’) after everything – just in case we didn’t get that’s what it was. Bible club, Jonah club, God Squad etc.

Finally – when all other ideas are exhausted we just mix them up:
“Hey mate, you coming to the Xblaze klub tonight?”  “No man, I’m at the zappy, flamers Xcite nite.” Awkward much?

So here’s some dos:

Spell properly!
Pick a name that represents who you are
Use words that reflect what the vibes and activities of your community look like
Be creative and think ‘outta-da-box… man’
Think longevity
Think easy to remember and brand adaptable
Think how it will translate to other generations
Think how it would look in other fonts
Get your youth group to help out (biggie!)
Try to aim slightly above the age group, not way below it
Look for something that can be spoken out loud without blushing or putting on an American accent
Think of something you can say without hand signals
Use words recognizable to people outside the Church
Think of community driven words and phrases…. rather than torture chamber driven words and phrases (strap in to da surge zone tonite!)

Get back to me (comment!) if you have any other ideas, or want to get some other horrible names off your chest!

Here endeth the rant.

Will Jesus Always Be Called ‘Jesus?’ (Questions Teenagers Ask 3.)


Part three of my series on Questions Teenagers Ask. All posts in this series are responses to questions I’ve had from young people written in the style I answered them.

Question: Will Jesus Always Be Called Jesus? What About At The Second Coming?

Answer: Yea, I think so.

Names in the Bible are hyper-important. They usually tell us something worth remembering about the person. Naomi changed her name to ‘Mara’ (meaning ‘bitter’) after she lost her husband and sons. Saul was called ‘Paul’ (meaning ‘small’ or ‘humble’) when he came into the freakishly big presence of the risen Jesus. Jesus’ name also means something pretty significant.

The name ‘Jesus’ is actually a wee bit weird as it’s a compound of two Hebrew words stuck together. It’s the word for Lord and the verb for save or deliver. So it means something like ‘the Lord delivers’ or ‘the Lord saves.’ Makes sense really when you think about it.

When Jesus returns He’s still going to be the Lord, the Saviour, and the Deliverer. In fact he’ll be doing those things by returning and putting an end to all the evil in the world. So it makes sense that He would keep His name as it is.

Also, in Revelation 1, the second coming dude is actually called Jesus. So that kinda clinches it I guess.

A wee bit more food-for-thought:

In the same Revelation 1 passage (verse 7) it says ‘Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.’ What’s really important about this is it basically says no one will miss the second coming! Jesus isn’t coming back as a baby for some to see and even less to believe in. He’s coming back with noise, and trumpets, and angels, and rock n’ roll. He’ll be ripping holes in the sky and bringing a whopping great city with Him.

So yup. I think Jesus will still be called Jesus (although He will have other names too like Lord, King, God, Holy One, Legend… etc.), but even if He didn’t we wouldn’t miss Him coming!


More In The Series, ‘Questions Teens Ask’:

Part 1. Is Self Harm A Sin?
Part 2. Can Demons Cause Sin?
Part 4. Are There People In Heaven & Hell Right Now?