While at my son’s soccer game yesterday, I saw one of the dads there wearing a T-Shirt that caught my eye. It was a shirt from Saddleback Church celebrating the 25th anniversary of the church. Now if you have been around awhile, you know I am not a Saddleback-hater. Yes, there are problems I have with that church, but really no more than any other church in the Americhurch category. But the logo for the shirt caught my attention, caused me to begin thinking and I thought I would ask you guys for feedback.

The slogan on the shirt said:

God’s Plan
God’s Church
God’s Purposes

So, what do you think when you read that? How do you react to a church having that written on a their T-Shirt? I have varied reactions. But I thought it might be worth discussing. Tell me your thoughts and I will tell you mine.

25 thoughts on “Hmmmmmm?”

  1. I’m sure “Saddlebackers” would say that this means their church wants to live out God’s plan and be concerned with His purposes. They probably would even say they intend to mean the big “C” Church (the total gathering of Christ’s followers on earth). To a casual passer-by or someone not familiar wtih church lingo, this shirt says, “Come to Saddleback because we are the ones with everything figured out”. I hope for their sakes that they perfectly know God’s plan and purpose, because if they are wrong aren’t they liable for false advertising?

  2. <>A guy who’s proud enough of his church to put it on a tshirt is no different than a guy who’s proud enough to leave church and dedicate an entire blog to it…<>Jeff, I am not sure if this is directed at me but my assumption is that it is somewhat thrown in my direction… which is fair and might be accurate if you were correct. But you have your facts wrong…. completely and absolutely in my case.For the record, I didn’t leave church and then dedicate a blog to it. When SCP started I was still very active in my church and actually the first few blogs are dedicated to my message prep I was doing at the time to speak at the church I attended.And this blog is not dedicated to “blogging” about my leaving the church. Never has been.I quote from my first blog regarding my reasons for starting my SCP blog: <>Do I hate the church? No. Do I still attend the church? Yes. Do I support the church? By all means. I just wanted to design a place where we can sometimes laugh at ourselves, where the truth is spoken, where light is shed on the darkness and where hurting people can share their pain.<>Of course, I did stop going to church around the first of June. I stepped away in the midst of my personal family situation and the two (church/faith crisis and family crisis) became somewhat intertwined along the way. But hopefully through recent blogs here and on my personal site there is evidence of my discussing ways that I feel I want to reconnect to the church insitution without compromising my dignity, integrity or honesty.

  3. That’s a good point, Jeff. I try to remember that since I myself have been misjudged because of “appearances” and such, but like everyone else I’m human and forget that which I should remember!!!

  4. Hey ciera,I think where the concept of ‘we’re full gospel & you’re not’ is in fact, human nature.I mean, I do it all the time. Ever since I’ve been hanging out on the blogs, I’ve discovered some things about church & christianity. There have been times where I spoke out as if I ‘get it’ and churchy people do not… making them of lesser stature than myself.I think we all have this tendency, no matter what side of the fence we fall on. And church people do it all the time.I’ve heard folks at my church talk about how we’ve got it going on more than any ther church in town because we believe a certain way. Then I visited some other churches and realized we had been left in the dust and didn’t even know it.I say all this to say I agree with your conclusion regarding attitudes of members. People are the ones who are condescending and highbrow or whatever. Maybe there are those who make up slogans or mottos that come off that way. I’m sure it happens a lot. For me though, it’s just difficult to judge without knowing the heart of an individual. (I thihnk it’d be easier if most churches told the truth and simply wore t-shirts saying, <>“Your church is wrong and mine is right. Deal with it!”<>)πŸ™‚

  5. The more I read it, the less I like it, but I’m not going to read anything into it other than that it’s more sloganeering. But then, so is “Religion Kills.” Some slogans are cool, some are SCP. Religion Kills is cool. God’s Plan/God’s Church/God’s Purposes is kinda SCP. It’s not evil, just kinda silly I think.Why silly (which is two steps below ‘stupid’, right after ‘stoopid’)? One, because… well, why slogan at all? Two, because it’s snappy at the expense of clarity (“God’s” plan? How do they know it’s “God’s” plan?). Three, because for a church that’s “purposeful,” I don’t get the purpose of a t-shirt with this on it.And yeah, Dorse and Jeff, this is being critical from the sidelines. But if you don’t make it about Saddleback, then we can have a valuable discussion about how we do church in America.And Jeff, in all my wanderings I don’t know that I’ve come across somebody who created a blog because they were proud they left church. I’ve seen people who have a lot of issues and energy to work out, people who have been (or feel they have been) burnt by the church and are questioning what role the church will play, if any, in their lives going forward.Look, I get sometimes this church criticism goes overboard sometimes or is even driven by less than pure motives. But it’s still valid, in my opinion. But what we fail to recognize a lot is that people can and do get hurt by how we say what we say, and we ought to be careful not to be sloppy in our critique.Fair?

  6. Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about church marketing. I mean, they’re a church, right? Where do you draw the line? Billboards? Bumper stickers? or should we even advertise at all??Personally, I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with producing such a tshirt. Of course, I work for a company that carries tshirts, so I’m big on image & corporate pride… and I think shirts/jackets are a great vehicle for that.Personally, I’m envisioning a tshirt…on the front: stupidchurchpeopleon the back: church people are stupid!…could be big!

  7. I think you’re right, Zeke. And I hope you don’t think I’ve suddenly hopped over to the “live and let live” camp. I have NO problem criticizing organized religion, not even from the sidelines. But I think some of us have gotten so angry (myself included) that we risk sliding into an “anything church=all bad” mindset. The vitriolic response to what I perceived as an innocuous, if abtruse slogan, just reminded me how easy it is to become dogmatic in the war against dogma.

  8. i would wonder how much the tshirts cost in time and money, and was it a wise use of money.i wonder that about politicians too . . . spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to say “look at me!” instead of using the money to help people which would, more than likely, result in those people saying “look at them!”but that’s just me right now

  9. First, the words create the initials PCP, that’s just crazy. I know people are hooked on places like that but come on….On a much more serious note, I think it’s an admirable vision statement. I don’t think it get’s accomplished but I think it’s something to strive for.

  10. I appreciate all the various input here, it’s given me a lot to think about. I am disturbed by this need a lot of churches have to make brands and slogans and put them on shirts to promote themselves. I wouldn’t fault any particular church member for wearing this shirt; he’s just doing what he feels is okay. Or maybe he just likes the way it looks on him. But whoever thought this shirt up makes me wonder. It does smack quite a bit of a business paradigm. In fact, one of the reasons the Pete and I left our former church is because at many of the staff meetings, the questions we were asking were, “How can we raise awarness in our community about our church?” and the answers given (by the pastors) were logos, “branding” (ie., creating “name recognition”), and doing things <>specifically to promote our church<>, not to promote the Gospel. The reasoning was “well, we got to get them in the door so they can hear the gospel! If they don’t know about our church, they won’t come and hear the Good News!” and I came to believe otherwise. Namely, that as the church <>lives<> the Gospel and <>shows<> people Christ out in the world, those people will be attracted to the church. It seems to me that many Americhurches have got it backwards.But like I said, I wouldn’t fault a typical church member for wearing a shirt like that. I would fault the church IF they thought such items were “witnessing” in place of having a real relationship with those in need of hearing the message of Christ.

  11. Jeff says: <>Of course, I work for a company that carries tshirts, so I’m big on image & corporate pride…<>Well there is the rub now isn’t it. Corporate pride. Freudian slip I am sure. How about organizational pride. Nothing wrong with that. And certainly a Stupid Church People shirt is a possibility…. pretty funny… we’ve never even thought of that! πŸ˜‰————–Regarding this shirt, maybe I should throw in my two cents.So the guy is wearing a shirt from his church… no big deal to me. And the church has a shirt that lets people know they exist… again no big deal really.But the slogan…. I think it is a subtle mindset. Probably not intended but I think it goes to a potentially dangerous philosophy.We are all proud of the churches we have chosen to attend (if we are currently attending). We probably wouldn’t be going there if we felt that our church wasn’t something special or offered something unique to the community. However, to insinuate that our church has God’s Plan and God’s Vision could potentially mean we think that other churches are outside of that plan and vision. To proclaim that our church is God’s Church… although I think I know what they mean, does the average person?Listen, most people probably didn’t even notice the shirt….just hypersensitive me. I am aware of that. And I am not looking to make a mountain out of a molehill. What I am searching for is answers to how the language we use within our churches influences and impacts our worldview.If I think I am God’s Church, with God’s Plan and God’s Vision… is it possible that I might begin to think that other churches are less than that as I seek to “recruit” others to my way of thinking. To use Jeff’s analogy… a Gym uses a shirt to advertise and “recruit” people into it’s community because 1) they think their gym is better than others and 2) they want to make more money. Nothing wrong with that.Within the church… should we share that same mentality? And if so is there any inherent dangers in that?Just asking the question.

  12. Steve,My comment had absolutely nothing to do with you. It was a general statement. Just making the point that it’s cool to be proud of something you believe in. Don’t read too much into it. I remember your beginnings. SCP’s not the only blog out there… (although its the only one I ever visit πŸ™‚Zeke, I think your point is fair. I don’t disagree with you necessarily. This guy just doesn’t bother me. I didn’t see the shirt as exclusivistic or condescending. I saw it as a guy wearing a shirt supporting his church. To me its no different than me wearing a tshirt from my gym that says “Life, Health, Happiness”. It’s just what the gyms about.(Although I DO believe there are a lot of Stupid Gym People… πŸ™‚Sure, it sort-of falls under the SCP guidelines. But this one’s harmless, in my book.(now, where’d I put my ‘God’s Gym’ sweatshirt???)

  13. Holy bitter presuppositions, Batman!Does anyone <>really<> believe that Saddleback members think they’ve got <>everything<> figured out or that they’re the only true Church? If I wore a shirt that said, “Hey, I like what’s going on in my church! I’m growing there,” would it be considered a taunt to people who don’t go there? Would you really think I consider myself morally superior just because I’ve found a place that makes me happy enough that I want to tell people about it?Don’t get me wrong. I have my share (more than my share) of problems with how the church (small c) operates, but when I see that shirt, it doesn’t say anything more to me than, “This is the journey I’m on, this is the place it’s led me, and I like it.”To be honest, I’m a little envious.

  14. I like it!If I weren’t in God’s plan by attending my church, I’d leave…If I didn’t believe God had ordained my church, I’d leave…If I thought attending my church was not in God’s purposes, I’d leave…Granted, I feel my place in my church fits in with His plan & purpose for my life… just as I would hope that those who do not attend church feel that their lack of attendance is part of God’s plan & purpose for their life.Should we all put it on our t-shirts?? Who gives a crap? A guy who’s proud enough of his church to put it on a tshirt is no different than a guy who’s proud enough to leave church and dedicate an entire blog to it…(The ‘PCP’ thing is still a little odd, though… πŸ™‚

  15. Zeke,I’d say it means that people are tossing aroudn the name of God. I seem to recall a commandment about that. I hear you on your questions and complains.Re: the post,It sounds like a mission statement to me. I expect to see words liky synergy and paradigm. Since when did church become business-modeled? How does that work?

  16. No worries Jeff…. although you can probably see where I (or others) might think you were referring to me. Nonetheless, it gave me the opportunity to share a bit of the beginnings of SCP for anyone just stopping by.And my reason for bringing the shirt up wasn’t about the person wearing the shirt (as NinjaNun has pointed out), it was about the church producing the shirt and the message that was on it. You have hit the nail on the head. The shirt shares what Saddleback believes about their church or as you put it, what they believe their church is about.So I was interested in what everyone thought that this church thought they were about….more interested in that more than the guy wearing it, the whole idea of marketing the church or the even the church that this shirt came from….

  17. I really don’t mind churches marketing themselves by inviting people to join them on a journey to know God more. If a church can really help people who are hurting or seeking for direction, then why not make sure people know where they can go?The problem is that most church marketing only attracts Christians from other churches because of the techniques and the church jargon. When I first came to my current church, we had “Christian” bands play concerts all the time. The people who organized these concerts called them “outreach events”. When I asked why we were reaching out to people who wanted to come to Christian concerts (assuming most in attendence were already Christians), no one had a response. We quit doing those types of concerts and stick to other techniques. A shirt like this one from Saddleback uses Christian jargon which is only really understood by Christians. When Christians read this shirt we can all know the heart of the message on the shirt and most people will just let it go. People not familiar with Christian slogans may think this church is saying they are the only ones who know the purpose. I would actually love the shirt and be attracted to a place like this is they added one small phrase like:Saddleback ChurchSEEKING TO KNOW………… God’s Plan………… God’s PurposeAND TO BE…. God’s Church

  18. Seeing a person wearing a shirt like that I would have to go over to them and say “So if I’m not in Saddleback, I’m not a part of God’s church?” “Ya know I’ve always wanted to meet someone who knew the ins and outs of God’s plan for mankind. Since you know all this, when can I expect the rapture and subsequent judgements? I wanna get my affairs in order first.” “And since you know God’s purpose for me, could you clue me in, because I seem to have missed it.”There’s just an air of relgious bigotry and superiority there that bothers me. I would expect to see someone like Marguerite Perrin (she’s the crazy Christian from Trading Spouses for the last two weeks) wearing a shirt like that. All it is in my opinion is a way for the church to go trolling for potential attendees/contributors. Put the bait out there and see who bites. It also sends the message that if you’re not at Saddleback, you won’t know God’s plan, you won’t be a part of his church and you won’t know what your purpose is.Sounds alot like what Joseph Smith believed he was told by God when he started the Mormon faith.

  19. <>Kind of like naming the church “Full Gospel”…kind of implying that all the rest in town aren’t. <>I’m not sure about the logic behind these types of statements.If someone tells me they’re smart, does that necessarily imply that the rest of the world is dumb?Saddleback saying that they’re God’s Church is no different than me saying I’m God’s child. It doesn’t mean that I’m the only one… or that they’re the only one. And I really don’t believe they feel that they’re the only church that can be called “God’s church”.To accuse them of exclusivism in this situation is a bit defensive, in my estimation…This is a good blog subject! (Not implying that the rest are not… πŸ˜‰

  20. Is this any more presumptuous than to suggest that God is “blessing” a church that, like Saddleback, is growing? I hear that all the time. ‘God blessed this, God blessed that.’ If my church is losing members, does that mean God is cursing it?

  21. Sigh.We have talked much about renaming the church I am presently going to and this name was ruled out because my Pastor didn’t want to offend the other churches in town and this was the reason given.Perhaps it’s my own fault for not thinking for myself {shrug} but I tend to get into deeper trouble when I do that.A lot of it would have to do with the members attitudes as well, how they present themselves to the community. We already have a reputation for thinking we are better than everyone else in town, why add to it? I can’t even begin to speak of Saddleback, because I’ve never heard of them before.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.