Knowing the names of your parishioners is the first step in becoming their pastor

Now, folks, you know me.  I am not one to judge.  Mostly.

I am, however, a bit harsher on the Church and clergy than on people in the world.  After all, we can’t expect sinners unsaved to know all of the rules, right?  So providing some friendly commentary on the church for the sake of God’s Kingdom is appropriate, wouldn’t you say?

Photo courtesy of The Christian Index at

…That brings me to this picture, which adorned yesterday’s issue of The Christian Index.  The photo went with an article, “Spontaneous Baptism,” which highlighted baptisms that took place in church on the spot, with little to no preparation.

What gets me, though, are some of the details in the photo.   Take a close look.  Notice anything peculiar?

You guessed it.  Participants are wearing name tags on their shoulders.  Apparently, the baptisms were THAT spontaneous.  I assume that the pastor, Darrell Henry, needed some help with remembering the names.  I also assume that the church is THAT large.

It brings me great joy to see baptisms on the cover of our local, Baptist newspaper.  But one must wonder: At what point should a pastor know the names of the people whom he brings to the faith.  I know that some churches are too large for the pastor to know everyone by name–a church we attended in Florida boasted over 5,000 participants.  I can’t imagine leading a church any larger than 200, so I’m impressed.

You would think that it becomes important to at least know who you are baptizing on any given Sunday.  And if you don’t know the names, get creative.  Quietly ask for the person’s name as he or she descends the stairs into the baptismal.  At least you can be honest about not knowing their names.

Again, I do not want to criticize anyone’s ministry, especially that of Pastor Henry (whom I don’t know from Adam, by the way).  But I could not help but post the picture–it simply tickled my funny bone, and I mean no harm by it.

It’s also a picture that I would send to my sister, who shares my affinity for pictures that seem uncanny, like a recent picture she posted on Facebook of an Italian restaurant in her New York neighborhood:

"Get in the cellar, Stella!"

It’s just like those Italians to have an easy way to get rid of the gaw-bage!  …And unsuspecting patrons, if you know what I mean.  “Get in the CELLAR, Stella!”

But let’s just hope that when Stella wants to get baptized, there is enough masking tape to go around.

Published by Joe LaGuardia

I am a pastor and author in Vero Beach, Florida, and write on issues related to spirituality, faith, politics, and culture.

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