Things Youth Pastors Should Stop Wasting Their Time On: Designing T-Shirts

Early on in my career in youth ministry, the time came for us to go on our summer mission trip. When it did, I freaked out because I realized I had no mission trip t-shirts.

As with retreat booklets, I thought that for something to count as a mission trip, it had to have a corresponding t-shirt.

So despite the fact that I have no drawing ability whatsoever, I dutifully sat down and designed a t-shirt for our mission trip team. I spent hours making a simple design: The outline of a body containing the names of everyone participating in the trip. I spent even more time stressing out about the t-shirt.

The day we left for our trip, I handed out the t-shirts I'd designed and forced our team to wear them so that we could arrive in style, proudly modeling our team unity. Amidst moans and groans, our teens reluctantly wore their t-shirts.

But I never saw anyone wear them after that day.

After that, I stopped designing shirts myself and instead bought professionally designed t-shirts.

One year, it was pink. (Imagine how well that went over amongst some of our students!) Another year, it was bright orange and featured a huge monkey on the front.

While buying professionally designed t-shirts allowed me to stop wasting valuable time doing something I wasn't good at, it still didn't make my teens want to wear our youth ministry shirts.

Then, I started work at another church. Shortly thereafter, I was informed it was time to order sweatshirts for our youth ministry. I thought to myself, “Oh great. Here we go again.”

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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