Have you ever visited a church for the first time and wondered what on earth the Ignite Ministry could possibly be? Is it a group of pyromaniacs who light things on fire? And should you be worried about sending your kids to Aftershock? Will this be registering on the Richter scale?

Many churches get caught up in trying to find unique names for their ministries. A cool name and trendy logo will set them apart and get people interested, right?

But typically these distinct brands end up having a negative impact for a few reasons:

1) They confuse and alienate people

Using obscure ministry names and acronyms is a great way to keep visitors from returning to your church. Sure, the insiders might understand your reference to a lesser known verse or Bible story, but everyone else is left wondering. Your guests shouldn’t have to decode acronyms or analyze names to find out where they fit in.

2) They compete with the overall church branding

If your church has separate branding for the kids, teens, young adults, young parents, empty nesters, senior citizens, and 27 other groups, all these logos and names will begin to compete for attention. Your goal is to get people into the church community and help them through the discipleship process, not identify with a single age-based group only.

3) They are focused on you, not the people

When choosing names that leave guests confused and compete with the church’s branding, ministry leaders are usually focused on what they want, what will be best for their ministry, and how they can be successful. But what about the people those ministries are meant to serve? If you choose a ministry name and logo with those people in mind, you’ll probably opt for branding that welcomes newbies and complements the church’s brand.

So what’s the best way to brand individual ministries at your church?

Choose names that are self-explanatory. This is a lesson that Elexio had to learn, too. Amp Vibe could’ve been anything! But Elexio Website clearly refers to our church website CMS. Likewise, if Lakeside Community Church is starting a group for the teens, Activ8 doesn’t indicate who the ministry is for or what it’s all about. But Lakeside Youth is crystal clear.

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Your ministry names don’t need to be clever or catchy; they need to make sense.

But if you’re sold on an elusive name like Underground, be sure to also include an indicator—Underground Kids Minstry. Parents will still have questions, but they’ll at least know who belongs there.

If every ministry is still fighting for a distinct brand that doesn’t complement the church’s brand as a whole, you might be dealing with more than a marketing problem. Lack of unity could signal departmental silos and a power struggle threatening your church.

Address the branding issues in your church ministries now so you can begin effectively reaching people and making disciples.

[Editor’s Note: Elexio recently launched a new website and branding. They ditched the elusive names, cheesy colors, and outdated logos in favor of a simple, streamlined approach. The old system created a lot of problems, and many churches struggle with these same issues because of the silos they create when individually branding smaller ministries.]