Witness-Wear: Clothing or accessories emblazoned with Christian logos, phrases or messages. Its purpose is to communicate the wearer’s Christian identity while simultaneously “sharing the message” with others.

In case you think that I’m exaggerating about my former Jesus Freak levels…there’s this picture.

It was taken by my best friend in junior high in front of a sheet that we’d rigged over my closet door. (And, yes, we had a fan blowing to give our hair that natural, super-model breeziness.)

We were twelve. In one afternoon, we went through two rolls of color film, one roll of black-and-white film, a dozen Christian t-shirts, and a variety of extra-cheesy poses.

The pictures were for our modeling portfolios. Our dream was to be “discovered” by Models for Christ. Cause, yes, that was (and apparently still is) a real thing.


Anyway, I’m blogging today over at Cru Press Green, which is the website for ministry resources for Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ.)

The cool thing about this is that Crusade was hugely significant in my mom’s life. It was through them that she discovered the depths of God’s love for her and was changed by it. It’s a unique piece of my spiritual heritage, one that I haven’t spent much time thinking about or exploring.

In my post-Super-Christian life, I have found that I have a sort of a knee-jerk reaction to words like “witness” and “evangelize.” They instantly raise my stress level and my defenses, and I’m not sure how to navigate the choppy waters of speaking my faith out loud anymore.

Still, the fact remains: my mom knows this Love because someone told her about it. And for me, a generation later, that fact changed everything.

I am grateful for the way Cru is engaging in the discussion around faith and sharing and loving and speaking. I’m thankful for the chance to say my piece.

If you get a chance, stop by and read it. It’s about witness-wear and this ugly t-shirt and the boldness of real, honest love.

27 thoughts on “Witness-Wear

  1. We have a “Models for Christ” billboard right here off the I-80 in Omaha! My wife and I threw up in our mouth a little when we saw it…

    1. Wow. I remember them clearly from my junior high Christian-girl modeling dreams but never imagined they were still a thing. Crazy.

  2. Addie, I had that exact same Go Against the Flow shirt! I’m pretty sure it was the theme of a vacation Bible school one summer. It went “great” with my black shorts and neon zig-zags. Early 90s?

    1. Excellent. I think I wore it oversized with a pair of bike shorts and a rad side-ponytail. 🙂

  3. It’s not that “witnessing” and “evangelizing” are bad words. But we’ve done them SO many HORRIBLE ways. And we keep doing them horribly. So I don’t really do it at all, because I believe that horribly done is worse than not done at all, even though, like you say, there are some REALLY GOOD results.

    So, what the heck. Maybe I’m just lazy and I’m making excuses for myself, but I honestly think that all the relationships I maintain through Little League and football and basketball and work MIGHT somehow be influence in some measly way by the fact that Christ lives in me and sometimes I let him show up through me, and MAYBE somebody, somehow, somewhere, and sometime, will be a little bit interested in Jesus because of me.

    Or maybe not. It doesn’t seem very likely, most of the time. Seems more likely that I’m becoming less Christlike and getting my nose into things that make “church” less of “me” rather than the other way around. Or is that the whole idea?

    1. Honestly Bernard, the whole area still feels a little blurry to me too. I have a lot of baggage to sort through from years of trying to master those high-pressure techniques. I don’t know. Right now I’m choosing mostly love and prayer and hoping that I’m brave enough to speak grace words if anyone asks.

    1. I mean, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to hire me. Nothing says “professional” like a sheet on a closet door.

  4. I never had that shirt, but I wanted it! I think it was advertised in Brio. I definitely had the hot pink “Have you got spirit?” one with the dove, though, which everyone asked about and which I had a horrible time explaining because I mostly just liked the pink.

    1. Ah Brio/Breakaway. That’s another discussion for another day. 😉 Love that you had that shirt! So funny.

  5. The mid- to late-1990s brought christian kitsch to a new level. One of my favorites was Testamints, a pack of Certs-like mints that had some Bible verse on the package. I never bought any. I wondered if 3:16 was imprinted on each mint so you could taste and see that the Lord is good.

        1. Funny. 🙂 Watch out for Christmas, friends and family! (And very cool about the Cru heritage, Diane)

  6. There’s a thin line between what is tasteful and what is yuk basically! Although England is a nominally Christian country, we don’t really get things like this; maybe it’d be nice if we did, now and again?! However, she’s a sweet looking girl and would probably turn heads whatever she wore!

    The serious side is I suppose how far we mix the world ‘out there’ with the ‘inner reality’ of Jesus and his coming Kingdom. Testamints sounds funny I think, but how much is Christian merchandise or Christian rock music and so on really about Jesus, and how much is it about grubby commercialism? If we’re honest, we probably already know the answer… I’ve always considered Christian ‘rock music’ music that wasn’t good enough to be secular, so they become all Christian and hey presto! Big sales… oh well

    1. Yes, Tim, it’s definitely a tricky line. Certainly there are Christian “products” (music, books, etc.) that are encouraging and helpful to people, that minister to them in ways. But it is a delicate balance and so easy for that greedy spirit of commercialism to take over.

  7. I had that SAME shirt when I was about 10 I think. I remember shopping for it. I was very shy and got picked on a lot, AND we had so little money. But I let myself believe that having a Christian t-shirt was the right thing to do, because that’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians, right? Make everything we do a starting point for an EE 5-step conversion. (I don’t actually remember the number of steps). Everyone we so much as walked past in the grocery store should know I’m a Christian, and we should support Christian businesses to boot. Plus I had to measure up to my older brother…. whew.

    Did you ever see the Justin McRoberts shirt from about 10 years ago that read, “They will know we are Christians by our t-shirts”?

    I’m going to go check out your “Wear Love” article. I have a feeling that I’ll like it.

    1. Hey, as far as Jesus shirts go, it was a fairly cool one. 🙂 I love finding out that so many people had this shirt. It makes me feel like I’ve found my tribe!

  8. I, too, wore that shirt with ridiculous amounts of self-righteous pride. I also had a cheesier one that featured sheep in a convertible on the highway to hell. Oh, and there was one with a cartoony grim reaper and the phrase “many who plan to seek God at the 11th hour, die at 10:30.” Yeah. The nineties were a great time for witness wear. Gag. :0)

  9. Totally Old Post I know but my Dad totally had that shirt! But I think it was a non-hooded sweatshirt… remember when thee used to make those!

  10. yep, I wore that shirt in my middle school days too. I’m glad I saw the Light.

  11. The worst thing about these was when someone wore it and then acted like a total jerk while wearing it. Great way to turn people off to the message. Kind of like people who go to restaurants after church on Sunday and act rude toward their servers and leave lousy tips. I had a waitress tell me that Sunday lunch hour is the worst time and none of the servers want to work it because the tips are pathetic and the patrons are awful. We need to be so careful in our behavior in public, especially when our clothing announces that we belong to Jesus.

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