Thursday, April 11, 2013

What's in a Name?

Since I have an unusual first name, I have always been interested in names. When I started in College Ministry many years ago, we were called Baptist Student Union Directors. Many or maybe even most of us were not ordained. We went out of the way to not be called "Ministers". For one thing, it was the kiss of death with students.

Over some years, our title morphed into Baptist Campus Minister. Why did that change? Did students like ministers better now? Some would argue that the title change came as a part of helping pastors and others see that ours was not a Ministry of ping pong. The accusation actually was that we only played ping pong with students. Did we? Of course, just like pastors drink coffee with their people.

My church has a full time College Minister. Two people back, he went by the title, "University Minister". When he left that position, the new University Minister who came called himself, "the College Pastor". I recently got a communication from a Baptist Campus Minister/BSU Director and it listed his title as "Campus Pastor". I don't know if that is a title he has chosen for himself or one given by those who employ him.

I am struck by the fact that the more we report that today's 20something generation is turned off by religion and the church, the more we have gone to extra religious terminology in our titles of those who do Christian Ministry with college students.

Does our title matter? Who is it aimed at...those we work with or those we work for? Any suggestions for a better title?
Arliss Dickerson

1 comment:

  1. I do think that titles matter, if for no other reason than to accurately describe the job that the person is currently doing.

    I do not think that the language employed in extra religious. I think that the term "Minister" more accurately describes the role and goal of the person serving on the college campus.

    I would add that sometimes in the past, name changes have been useless and arbitrary. This, however, is not the case with the change of the name from "Director" to "Minister"