Below you’ll find the transcript for Episode 14, How to Select the Best Name for Your Women’s Ministry, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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Episode 14: How to Select the Best Name for Your Women’s Ministry
Welcome to the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. I’m Cyndee Ownbey, your host and women’s ministry mentor. I’m the founder of Women’s Ministry Toolbox and the author of Rethinking Women’s Ministry. The Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast is a podcast for women’s ministry leaders and team members of all stages (from new to seasoned) serving in their local church community. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of women’s ministry, I’ll be asking seasoned women’s ministry leaders to share their best tips and the lessons they’ve learned. Together we’ll learn to build a flourishing, Christ-focused women’s ministry.
Welcome to episode number 14, How to Select the Best Name for Your Women’s Ministry.
Today, we’re going to be talking through the things that you need to consider as you determine the name for your women’s ministry (whether you need a new name or an update).
I’m going to share some key things that you need to consider to make sure that your women’s ministry name is the best it can be.
Sometimes I think we spend more time on this item than we should. We might spend weeks or even months praying about it, brainstorming great big lists of names, debating, and even voting on it. While selecting the best name for your women’s ministry is a big deal, and it does matter, I think we over-complicate it.
Today, I hope to simplify that process for you.
Now, I know I’m going to ruffle a few feathers with this episode. I want to encourage you to listen all the way through, and please consider what I’m saying, especially if it runs opposite to what you want to name your ministry. As we’ll discuss, it’s not about us. It’s about the women we want to reach and what matters to them.
The first thing I want to do is shift your mindset. We have a tendency to get hung up on names that are really creative, but we’re not fiction authors crafting the perfect title or character name for our novel.
We need to think like someone working in a marketing department.
Marketing departments work hard to find the perfect name for businesses and products. In general, there’s one of two directions that they go. The name clearly describes the product or business, or it doesn’t. Think for a moment about these business names or product names.
I’m going to give you a couple of lists. Here’s the first one: Burger King®, My Pillow®, Bed, Bath, and Beyond®, Hobby Lobby®, Home Depot®, Shake Shack®. Here’s the second list: Kohl’s®, Hallmark®, Nike®, Domino’s®, Maddio’s®, Andy’s®, Happy Joe’s®, Belk®.
That first list should have been really obvious; even if you’d never heard those names before as to what that business sells or does. Burger King® – I’m expecting some burgers. Hobby Lobby® – if I have a hobby, I expect to be able to find the things that I want to buy there. Shake Shack® -they better have some good shakes.
But that second list – Kohl’s®, Hallmark®, Nike®, Domino’s®, Maddio’s®, Andy’s®, Happy Joe’s®, Belk®. Unless you’re familiar with those stores or you’ve seen a commercial or heard the promos, at first glance, first time hearing them, first time reading them, first time seeing them, you would not know what their product is or what their businesses is.
Happy Joe’s® by the way, that’s a little shout-out to my days in the Midwest in Iowa. That was one of our favorite pizza joints, in case you’re curious. And Andy’s® another foodie place – that is a frozen custard place that just recently came to our area in North Carolina, and it’s fabulous, but I digress.
We may not think that creative names cause confusion, but more often than not, they do.
Let me tell you a quick story. One of the churches we were new to and attending (we’re no longer there) had bulletins on Sunday morning. In the bulletin were listed the events, groups, and activities for the upcoming couple of weeks or so. Each week I would look through the bulletin, trying to familiarize myself with what was going on. I’m trying to really find things that maybe our boys, who were younger at the time, would want to plug into and keeping an eye out for what the women’s ministry was doing before I got on the team. (We were just new there, I wasn’t on the team yet.)
I spotted a couple of lines advertising the J.O.Y. group – it’s an acronym – and in parentheses behind it, it said “just older youth.” In my mind, “just older youth” meant that the group was for college and career students because they aged out of the youth group. Well, that was not the case. That group was actually a name that the seniors (and I’m not talking high school seniors, I’m talking the older adults), the senior saints of that church had come up with because they didn’t want to call it a senior ministry. I totally get that, but as a new person in the church, I had no idea who this group was for – I assumed it didn’t apply to me, truthfully it didn’t, but it created confusion. It wasn’t clear.
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When we pick a name, it needs to be something simple that does not require a lengthy explanation.
Your name should clearly communicate who you are and who you are for.
Let me say that again; your ministry name should clearly communicate who you are and who you are for. It can be challenging to view your ministry name from a different perspective, but I think one way to help us overcome that hurdle is to step back and think about our target audience. Way back in episode 2, we talked about our target audience. And that target audience includes seasoned church members, regular attendees, and first-time guests, likely in age from 18 to 100 or more.
Will your target audience know the group is for them just by its name?
Will your target audience know the group is for them without an explanation?
There are three ways by which I judge whether or not a women’s ministry name requires explanation.
People outside of your church should be easily able to figure out that this is your women’s ministry group.
And that means we avoid anything that sounds Christianese. (Christianese are words or phrases that are only familiar to believers, and only believers would understand it. Someone new to the church or who didn’t grow up in the church would be confused by it.)
An example of that would be to call your group Daughters of the King. Someone who didn’t grow up in church is going to be like, who is the King? Why are you daughters of the King? It would just create confusion for them and they would not know that group is for them.
2. It needs to be intergenerational.
The name you pick needs to appeal to all ages. Now I know that that’s a tall order, but what that really means is don’t pick something that is only appealing to older generations. This is usually the tendency we have because the women in our women’s ministry are older. Make sure to check in with your younger women. See if it’s a name (they don’t have to love it, but as long as they like it), they understand it’s for them and feel that it includes their generation.
3. It needs to be short, and it needs to be brief.
It should not take, as I mentioned before, a lengthy explanation if you’re writing it out on publicity materials. We don’t want to take two sentences to explain who you are and who you are for before we even get to the event details.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a training for leaders at Lifeway. Back then, Chris Adams was still in charge of their women’s ministry arm. In one of our sessions, we talked about naming women’s ministries. This was her advice to us – she encouraged us to drop the name “ministry “from our women’s ministry name if we were using it and she suggested that we add our church name to the word women. Grace Women, First Baptist Women, Christ Community Women, Refuge Women, et cetera.
There’s no explanation needed with that. It covers all age groups and it’s short. People will clearly know who you are and who you are for.
I have a compromise for those of you who really want a creative name, and so many of you are so creative! Save your creative names for your events or your regular meetups, your small group names, your Bible study names, your large event name, your retreat names, things like that.
Maybe you want to call your gatherings (your meetups) God’s Girls Gather. You could say, “join the first Baptist Women for this month’s God’s Girls Gather (or Women of the Word or whatever it is that you want to call it).
Keeping the branding and your name appealing to your target audience will make a big difference.
Your attendance is going to increase because you don’t have to go around explaining, “Yes, this is for you.” There will be no question.
Selecting the name of your women’s ministry, as I mentioned earlier, should not be a lengthy process. We get caught up in being creative and selecting the perfect name, and we miss out on gospel opportunities.
And one last note, after your team has come up with your name, or maybe even while you’re in the process, make sure you get approval from your pastor before you make your name change public. They may have a concern that they want to address with you, and having their stamp of approval is important.
Today’s Toolbox Task:
I want to challenge you to evaluate your women’s ministry name with these three questions.
- Will it be obvious to someone new at our church that this is for them too?
- Does this name attract women across the generations? And you may need to ask them (actually, I recommend that you do). Don’t just rely on your team’s feedback.
- Is the name simple?
Remember, if it requires an explanation, it is too complicated.
I know that was a lot, and some of you may be thinking I am putting a lot of emphasis on what our women’s ministry name could and should be, but it matters.
If our goal is to reach women who aren’t attending women’s ministry, we need to make sure our name will draw them in – that they’re going to know is for every woman in our church and in our community.
I would love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to email me, message me through social media, or share your women’s ministry name in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Facebook group.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox podcast. Leading in women’s ministry can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! You’ll find support and ideas you can use in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Community Facebook Group. We’d love for you to join us! Search for us on Facebook or visit womensministrytoolbox.com/groups to access the link. May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may He direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the LORD be apparent to every woman you serve.
You may also want to read:
Defining Your Target Audience
10 Things You Can Do to Reach Younger Women in Your Church and Community