Ministry Tips From a Shirt


About a month ago, I came across the image that you see at the top of the page. Drawn by Roman Nurik, a designer who works for Google in New York, it wasn’t his first attempt; he’d drawn two prior versions. Roman didn’t publish the first one but this is what the second one looks like:


It’s called a wireframe design which outlines the contours of a proposed product. The collar struck Nurik as too formal, so he redesigned the shirt. By contrast, the final icon is fuller, textured, and casual. Nice improvement!

I learned some spiritual lessons from both of these graphics.

Keep your eyes open

If Jesus could illustrate the kingdom of God with fishing, farming, parties, and money, then I figure we can learn a thing or two about ministry from pretty much anything. Why not the icon of a shirt?

Don’t make formal final

Initial sketches outline what artists imagine. They have to put things down so they can see what their ideas actually express. In the case of Nurik’s shirt drawing, he felt that the collar conveyed a “tuxedo effect.” That wasn’t what he had in mind!

So, too, in Christian ministry, don’t reduce the spiritual life to an outline of principles or stiff theological categories. They may work in your head, but real life doesn’t conform so easily. If your theology is too tight for people, it’s too tight!

Avoid overcompensation

Nurik cast the wireframe in a bold green background. Unfortunately, that color competed with the outline of the shirt and overwhelmed it.

Likewise, if you discover that your ministry lacks vibrancy, you don’t have to flood it with shocking ideas, practices, or values. Too much of a good thing detracts from achieving your goals. Attract people’s attention; don’t bowl them over!

Comfortable is familiar is good

Just about everyone appreciates flannel shirts. They’re familiar, comfortable, and a perfect fit in cold weather.

Similarly, you can present the gospel of Jesus in a manner that soothes hurting souls. Explain the truths of the Bible simply; use commonplace vocabulary. No need to alienate people with esoteric thoughts or ideas they can’t grasp. Go with the familiar and see how God honors it.

Surprise people

Nurik livened up his shirt by introducing “delightful details,” limited amounts of color on the back of the collar and on the buttons. These splashes catch your eye! Not what you’d expect in a typical flannel shirt.

If you want people to notice you, do the unconventional. If you worry that people tune you out because they’re so accustomed to what you have to say, then startle them. No matter how familiar with God’s Word people may be, there’s more to it than they imagine. Show them!

These are some spiritual lessons I picked up from the graphic image of a shirt. What has Jesus used in your life to teach you about His kingdom? What did He show you? I’d like to know.

(For Tausha Cameron, my co-worker in Christ. Your service comforts and sparkles!)


About Bob Condly // Associate Pastor

I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, husband to Grace, father to three children, and associate pastor at Victory International Fellowship in Brookfield, WI.
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