When you begin the work of starting a new church, you usually begin with 1: you. You may or the people who join you on the journey, well, they come because of a relationship that began because you, as the church planting pastor, reached out to them, you engaged them. Scott Ginsberg, calls this “approachability”-being ready to engage. The idea behind approachability came about as Scott went about wearing a nametag, everyday, all day. as of Monday of this past week Scott has worn a nametag now for 5,408 days straight.
While I am not as prolific at “nametagging” as Scott has been, I found his idea intriguing and began nametagging as a church planter. I’ve discovered it isn’t always easy to nametag but it is a great way to meet people and start conversations. The Dale Carnegie Tip #6 states: “A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. ”
Forgetting someone’s name is also one of the most uncomfortable moments a person can experience too.
Scott has transformed wearing a nametag into a brand. He has written over 30 books, written 3,000 articles, and given more than 600 speeches throughout the world. His goal has been simple: to make the world friendlier. I know that wearing a nametag is not on the top of your list but let me ask you, doesn’t it feel good to know people’s names? Knowing names is like the “ooey-gooey warm chocolate brownie with ice cream” for your soul. Don’t believe me? At lunch today, call your server by their name with a smile throughout the meal. I’m fairly sure they’ll have a nametag. See what kind of difference it makes. Then, imagine the difference it makes to guests who arrive in church and find that we were expecting them!
Why would I make such a big deal about name tags? Here is why: Before people meet Jesus, they meet you. How will they think about Jesus after that moment?
Scott observes in one of his books, “The Power of Approachability” he has observed 5 motivators for engagement:
1)To help: console, minister to the needs of others
2)To learn: acquire info about others, themselves and the world
3)To relate: establish and maintain interpersonal relationships
4)To influence: inspire, direct, lead, manage
5)To play: enjoy themselves, escape from work
Let’s look at two important moments in Jesus’ ministry, both are all about engaging:
Mark 1:16-17 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’
The other is from John 4:9-10. 9The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’
To the fisherman, Jesus appeals to a calling or yearning for these men to learn how to make difference in other people’s lives. To do that, Jesus met them where they were - fishing. Jesus was starting a movement and was looking for just such people, people that Jesus could influence and help.
While wearing a nametag, I have served on the staff of Dollar Tree, Target, and Home Depot just to name a few places. People were willing to engage because they believed I knew something they did not. If anyone was motivated in history, it was Jesus. At heart, Jesus' motivation was love (God loved the world remember (John 3:16)). But Jesus alsot responded to the motivators in others.
I think this is what happened at the well. Jesus recognized a need in the life of the woman at the well. On the surface, she thought she knew her need and experienced the need through thirst. But Jesus engaged her there and spoke to another need, a need she had to be in relationship. She had been looking for it in unhealthy ways. In Jesus, found one who could fulfill that hole in her soul.
If just knowing names was all it took, the world would be a vastly different place. Remember what I said: before people meet Jesus, they meet you. Imagine people arriving here for the first time, not as a visitor (think - stranger) but as a guest (someone you wanted to come!) Jesus lived expecting to engage and be engaged by others. Hospitality is all about making room in life for others. This is the kind of church I believe Jesus is desiring us to become.
May I Ask? Are you going to be Jesus for another? How?