or “For the love of all that is holy, stop wearing matching mission team t-shirts”
If you know me, or have even seen me, you will find this next piece of information hilarious.
My college degree was Fashion Merchandising.
And I did graduate.
I won’t tell you which institution actually granted the degree, because it might just be considered slander.
Truly, jeans, flip flops, and t-shirts are my uniform. To me, dressing up is black jeans instead of blue. High fashion is putting on a dress, and still wearing flip flops.
My clothes never go out of style, because I still have clothing that is over 20 years old, and fashion recycles itself about every 20 years.
Other than my daily fashion crime of not caring, there is one fashion crime I have intentionally committed, with unintended circumstances.
Wearing my shirt inside out? I admit, that has happened.
Wearing two different colored socks? Only in the winter.
Forgetting to brush my hair? Well, yes, but that’s not it, either.
What then, could my fashion crime possibly be??
The beloved, iconic, matching short term mission team tshirt.
I have said it.
Not only have I done this, I have enabled others to do it, too. C’mon, I know you have done it. You might have done it recently. You might be wearing your matching team t-shirt now. You didn’t know… and neither did I.
Our shirts were things of beauty. Sky blue, with Go Global across the front, proclaiming to all that we were servants of God. There were 17 of us. We looked like a smurf village. We CALLED ourselves smurfs in these shirts. We wore them for a group photo. I don’t remember wearing them as a group, but that might be because the memory is so painfully awkward.
I don’t hate team t-shirts. I think they are fun, especially AFTER the trip. I have seen amazing shirts crafted after a trip with one liners that only the team would understand, or a meaningful scripture for the group. Hey, you can even have them before the trip, but for the love of all that you want to be on the trip…
PLEASE DON’T WEAR THEM AT THE SAME TIME!
Security – You’re already a foreigner in a foreign land. Why advertise it by wearing neon orange shirts… all 20 of you? You make yourselves a target.
Community – Do you want to build community? If your intention is to go into a community, be the rich outsider coming in to fix things, stay in your clique, and hang out together, only to dip your toe into the culture by walking through the neighborhoods and taking photos of you and the children, then STAY HOME. If you want to walk alongside of your brothers and sisters in the community, learn from them, and BE with them, then one of the barriers you’ll need to consider is your clothing. Especially your matching shirts. Nothing says exclusion like clean, new, matching shirts. And no, bringing enough for everyone isn’t a solution… because there is never enough for everyone.
Your message – In Matthew 6 it says “So when you give to the needy, do it with matching t-shirts on, so everyone will know you are going to do good deeds and help the poor”
Oh, wait. That’s not what it says… It does say… “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6: 1-4
WHY? If you need to dress alike to find each other in the airport, maybe you need to reconsider who is going on the mission trip. Seriously, if your team can’t be responsible in the airport, stick together, or follow instructions, how will they function in another country?
So, go for it…. Get the matching t-shirts. But wear them in the US. Wear them during your presentation. Wear them till they wear out. Schedule days to wear them while you are volunteering, just reconsider wearing your t-shirts as a group.
What to wear? You can’t go wrong with choosing your wardrobe from Colossians 3:12. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.