Every year, I interview jr. high youth for the leadership board of the Junior High Youth Program at our parish; also known as the Junior High Youth Council. Every year we try to come up with a developmentally suitable theme for the group and a t-shirt design that encompasses the overall feel of the upcoming faith development year. I usually let the kids think of the theme and design since they never fail to impress me with their creativity and thoughtfulness with such things. Tonight was no exception.
I asked two of the council members the typical question that I always ask at the beginning of the faith development year: "OK guys, what are jr. high kids into these days?" They respond with T.V. shows, the latest electronic games, candy, food, hang-outs etc. We get the juices flowing with such questions. Youth Group t-shirt design can be a tricky business. As a youth minister, I would love to have the youth wear something blatantly Catholic or Christian on a t-shirt, but that is not necessarily what the kids desire. I want them to WANT to wear it to school, not just youth group events, but that may be asking for too much depending on what they expect. It normally has to be a somewhat subtle design in order for them to wear it outside of youth group. That is why it is imperative that the youth are involved in the planning of the shirt. They know what they will wear and they don't want to listen to what the "old adult" thinks is cool.
In no time though, one of the boys mentioned the "Life is good." t-shirts with the stick figure people on the front. You know the design; you've seen these t-shirts in sports stores in all colors accompanied by mugs, p.j. pants,boxers etc. They are very popular around these parts but are expensive when you compare them to regular 'ol t-shirts that are similar. My young Catholic 7th grader continued with his idea: What if we place the statement, "Life is Good." on the front of the t-shirt along with a stick figure holding a bible and a Rosary. On the back we can print, "Heaven is better." and design another stick figure jumping on a cloud with a halo on his head? All this will resemble the popular t-shirts seen in stores, but we can change it up a bit and make it our own.
We all agreed that the theme and design was perfect for the Council, but still needed a good scripture that would be the focus of the year for the larger youth group...and that matched the design. I think I found the best scripture a few minutes ago. Let me know what you think:
"There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." Matthew 19:17
This scripture will be added to the t-shirt underneath the design, but I won't add a thing until the youth give me the green light go ahead. They know what is best! Youth ministry is so much fun!