Dear Abigail

What do you suggest I do to learn names and get to know our members better in these early months?

Dear Abigail,

Our family recently moved to a new church. this church is bigger than our last, and it’s taking quite a while to learn names. What do you suggest i do to learn names
and get to know our members better in these early months?


Dear Forgetful,

There are many ways to get to know your new church members. If it’s a smallish congregation and you have the time, you can invite the families over for a game night or for Friday night supper and sundown worship.

If your church is bigger, host an “open house” in your home and invite your congregation to a come-and-go event. Provide light finger foods and drinks (and if it’s acceptable in your culture, ask your elders’ wives to bring snacks also) and let everyone mingle at their leisure. As guests arrive, snap a polaroid or cell phone picture of each person or family and have them sign their names on a small piece of paper to go with their picture. After the dinner you can put the photos and signatures in a scrapbook to help you remember names and to create a keepsake of your early days in the congregation. 

For learning names, here are a few tricks:

  • When you meet for the first time, ask the person’s  name and repeat it several times during the conversation: “It’s nice to meet you, Susan! So, Susan, how long have you lived here?”
  • Repeating the name several times while looking at the person’s face helps your memory.
  • If it’s a difficult or unusual name, ask how it’s spelled. 
  • If it’s a common or easy name, try to figure out an association to go with it: Jack Smith with black hair  (Jack rhymes with black), and so on.
  • if you can, keep a pack of 3x5 cards handy, with one card per family. Write names and details about the family members: church roles, kids’ ages, shared  hobbies, etc.

And don’t be afraid to admit when you forget. Remind people, in good humor, that while they have only two or three new names to learn from your family, you have 150 (or however many people are in your new church). tell people how much you want to know them. Ask them to remind you of their names whenever you see them.

Just knowing that you’re trying is enough to make people feel loved and cared for!

Blessings in your district,