How 'Bout a T-Shirt and Logo With Your Ministry?

I have a thought in my head. Dangerous, no?

If you know me very well, you know that these thoughts in my head have the potential to become soapbox diatribes. I figure, if you're going to have an opinion, HAVE AN OPINION. If you're ambivalent -- stay out of it.

I think I'm still in the information-gathering stage of this issue, so I'm reserving my right to get on or off of a soapbox. I would love your input and thoughts.

Keep in mind I have been attending a large church for 10 years now, and a large-ish church for 10 years before that. So if you go to a smaller church you may not have the same experience as I do.

But in my experience, when a church or organization wants to launch a ministry, it goes like so: They gather together a group or committee, or even just a few of the staff members have a great idea to reach out to the community or to encourage their members. Whatever -- some earnest desire to launch the body closer to God or in a better position to serve their community.

In my layperson's humble observation, it seems to me that the first order of business after settling on what the plan will be, is to ... what? You know, right? Is it determine a budget? Decide who needs this ministry the most or will be available to participate? Oh, no. First, before all else, we need a catchy name and LOGO!!
And this logo made me laugh more than anything... *

After we have settled on the name and logo, we have to have it printed on every piece of stationary, banner, and building fixture that doesn't move first. Oh... and T-SHIRTS!! We MUST have t-shirts (t-shirts are really where I'm heading with this...). We can get t-shirts at this great little place for dirt cheap.

For the t-shirts: you cannot get t-shirts free, people. You, as a non-profit ministry entity, have 2 choices regarding the t-shirts.
1) You can count the cost in the budget for the program (if you have one), and order plenty for everyone or...
2) Pass along the (nominal) cost to the participants, asking them to pay the (nominal) fee to offset the cost?

My family signed up recently for a service project that is an annual event. Being new to the area, this will be our first time to participate. With the announcements about the day, I noticed, "Please wear your shirts. If you don't have one, contact (shirt person)." So I emailed shirt person and said that we needed shirts, and here are our sizes. "I'll order those for you. They are $5/ each. We can cover that if it is a hardship."

Dilemma: $20 isn't technically a hardship for my family, no, but I could put $20 to a lot better use than t-shirts that we will literally never wear again, since we don't wear t-shirts. Ever. (Troy and I don't -- and the kids have about 20 apiece from such activities).

So I really started thinking: why? Why do we do this t-shirt thing? Why do we even do the logo thing? And couldn't all of that money for design and printing go to better use? Granted, I am married to a business guy. I understand the need for marketing/ hype about something a church or any entity has going on. But the t-shirts are beginning to get to me.

Partly because of the t-shirt clutter my own family has. It's ridiculous. We are being buried alive by screenprinted cotton fiber here. So I'm examining the usefulness and expense of t-shirts for a program.

If the program is for children or teens, it seems the t-shirt is a given. I get the idea behind that: it is so important for that age to not only have something to be excited about, but also to feel a part of something. Trust me -- we are new here, remember? My kids want to fit in/ belong. A t-shirt like everyone else's (though we have a bajillion like everyone else in a different town) can be a wonderful thing. Honest. As a matter of fact, we had one woman from church hunt us down to meet us because she saw Ashley out in town wearing a t-shirt associated with our new church and she wanted to meet us! Awesome.

Of course that always leaves room for someone that doesn't belong, now doesn't it? Invariably, someone can't go/ can't make it/ can't afford your t-shirt event... and they don't fit in with you. Or they joined your program two weeks after the BEST! OUTING! EVER!! (complete with most awesome t-shirt ever) and are left out.

This is not a cross I am willing to die on and I am CERTAINLY not going to make a stand and say that my teens will not be wearing t-shirts or buying t-shirts. I would love your input about it.

Do you LOVE the t-shirt thing? (Confessing I like a good t-shirt from a race I run while it drives me nuts from a ministry.... but I paid an entry fee to a race) Do you wish we would spend ministry money on ministry instead of clothing ministry participants? Am I looking at the splinter in your eye instead of the plank in my own? Tell it like it is! I'm ready. Speak to me.

Here's what Jesus had to say about if we needed t-shirts to be "in": 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34, 35

* Got Jesus logo shirt found at Fearless Threads


Mindy Clark said...

Girl, you've hit a pet peeve here, for sure:) WASTE of ministry money, IMHO!

Roxanne Langley said...

I have no problem with the t-shirt thing. . .and I've been the whole route. . .members and visitors get shirts for free, members pay and visitors get shirts for free, everyone pays a nominal fee to offset the cost of the t-shirt. Really doesn't bug me. What DOES bug me is if THAT--t-shirt/name/catchy slogan comes first. That I see as a problem. Identify a need/ministry that is relevant to your town/community/neighborhood, pray about it, plan for it, pick the brains of folks who know what's what. . .THEN do the t-shirt.

Sarah S. said...

I think I'm really leaning that direction. When I think about how tight my own budget is, and how far I could make $20 go for 4 shirts... I could do a LOT of good for my family or a needy family or a water well in Africa or on and on. We could even go buy 10 shirts at Goodwill for $20 if people NEED shirts. This world does NOT have a t-shirt shortage.

Sarah S. said...

The more I think on it, the tighter my own budget is, the more I wish my church and ministry should be equally discerning with their budget. (You can see my below reply to Mindy if you want). I just think there is so much else we could do with t-shirt money besides advertise: "Yay! We are doing stuff!" I would just rather actually DO the stuff: feed people, give the people who actually NEED shirts the shirts, or drill a water well in Africa. Just me.

Design by Deluxe Designs