Designing a Crest

What does it mean to be a mentor?

So I spent yesterday designing this crest. Tonight we are doing something we’ve really not done much of in our congregation, kicking off some official mentoring relationships. Adults (men in this instance) will be joining with teens and kids (boys) to become mentors and role-models in their lives. I wanted there to be an official start to this so we’re holding a ceremony of sorts to mark the journey’s beginning. As I was deciding what I wanted to do I had the thought to design a type of crest that would appear on any materials handed out tonight, something that was full of symbolism and myth.

The good kind of myth that invites you into something bigger than yourself.

As I worked up the crest, I began to wonder if we might use this in future mentoring situations, and if so would I need to design something separate for girls. Rather than separate the two genders out, even though these mentorship relationships will be gender based, I decided I would try my hand at designing a crest that could be embraced by both boys and girls. It seems so easy to focus separately on boys and girls in this situation, but I liked the idea that even when we split into genders, the church is still whole and focused.

What do you think? Should boys and girls use separate imagery, or can a shared image be embraced by both? How do you think the above image works in this capacity?

So…What Does It Mean?

The imagery in the crest is all important to its meaning. I’m sure some of it seems a bit cliché, but I think when designing a crest rather than a logo that’s ok. I plan to use it to communicate the ways adults can help teens and children grow up in their faith into mature adults. The symbols include:

  1. The cross. The crest is built on the cross, as our faith is built on Christ. Central to everything the mentor is to do and to be is the call to point their disciple to Jesus.
  2. The dove. The dove has dual meanings. First is represents the Holy Spirit and the reality that the mentor and disciple are not alone in this relationship. The Spirit is engaged in the process by providing guidance and conviction to both parties. Secondly, it represents the call to be people of peace. Certainly men and women are both called to be people of peace, but it seems especially important to remind men and boys of this today. The glorification of violence and of brokenness in our culture has a strong impact on the hearts of our boys as they grow up. We must teach them that to be Kingdom men is to be men who are peaceful and whole by the work of God in their lives.
  3. The Grapes. Similarly the grapes represent the fruit of the Spirit which are to be cultivated in the life of a believer as they mature. There are nine grapes for each fruit from Galatians 5:22-23 and they remind us that as grapes grow in bunches the fruit of the Spirit grow together in the life of the believer. The vines also grow from the cross as a reminder to work together and find ways to constantly abide in Jesus, which will produce both fruit and life.
  4. The Towel. Buffeting each side of the crest is a stylized towel. The towel harkens back to Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet and a reminder that mentor and disciple are to be servants above all else.
  5. The Crown and Turban. My favorite part of the crest is the crown and the turban. They represent the fact that as Christians we are called a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). This call goes all the way back to creation when men and women were made in the image of God, in order that they would cultivate and rule God’s creation as God’s stewards while being the reflection of all of creation’s worship back to God. How much differently might we all live, youth and adults alike, if we live knowing we are to fulfill these two roles in life? Also, how important is it to remind boys and girls that in Christ they have been given the roles of dominion and praise in their lives? (I could say more here, but I won’t for now)

I have wrestled for a while with how to set a marker in the lives of the people involved in mentoring relationships in our church. My hope is that boys and girls, men and women, can all embrace the symbolism of this crest in a way that helps them understand how to better build one another up into Christ.

To him who created all things and through whom all things live and breathe and have their being be the glory forever. Amen.


6 Replies to “Designing a Crest”

  1. I am glad that you made the shield gender inclusive. I think the separate imagery is dangerous. I think that with concepts such as mentoring and large church practices, separating them by gender gives credence to those who would say that the genders should be separated because of the value or superiority of one over the other. Even if we aren’t separating for those reasons, people will read that into the separation. I think we have to be constantly saying the opposite (if we believe it) and taking every opportunity (such as this) to make statements for gender equality. We have to be, at all times, intentional, clear, and consistent when it comes to this topic.

    1. Thanks Jen, I think you’re spot on. It’s tricky in a situation like this because I do think that these sorts of mentorships are best done with people of the same gender for a number of reasons, but I think it inappropriate to communicate a gospel that says that men and women need to always be separated in order to be faithful and growing.

      Any thoughts on the use of a shield? I was going back and forth about whether or girls could embrace a shield like this.

  2. Every mentoring relationship is unique – not simply men vs. women. Your relationship with your mentor will be different from another man’s relationship with his mentor. Same for women. The uniqueness to be honored and cared for exists on a much smaller level than simply gender distinction.

    re: the shield – any kind of militaristic imagery within xianity is going to be difficult for me personally. and i wonder if there is a tension between the symbolism of the dove and the military connotation of the shield.
    I like the use of Christian symbols presenting a holistic picture of the people we are to be. Because of my completely personal aversion to militaristic imagery, I think, were I participating in this mentoring program, I would resonate more with imagery such as a stained glass window/mandala/seal kind of image. It would still carry the variety of symbols historic to the faith tradition but in a slightly different manner.

    1. I’m moving your direction as it pertains to military imagery for sure, which is why the shield shape is about as subtle as I could make it. I think there is some basis in the NT to use shield imagery in relationship to spiritual warfare, but unfortunately today the spiritual war and the physical war get too mixed up in Christian discourse.

      Interesting that you mentioned the stained glass window because my mind went that way too. I even pulled the shape and some of the symbolism from the Miller Chapel stained glass. I have in my mind a color version of it that would look like a stained glass window rather than seal. Maybe I’ll have to work that up for future use. So very glad you’ve commented Jen, you have pushed me further in my consideration of this piece.

      Collaborative Creativity – woot!

  3. Love the idea of the towel and the idea that we are to be servants above all else. I wonder, then, if the towel should be represented above the crown and kingly things (as a way to represent the upside down-ness of the kingdom of God)?

    1. The theologian in me says “yes!” and the designer in me says, “but it’s balanced so well visually the way it is!” Isn’t that how it always goes though? I love the upside-down nature of the Kingdom being depicted in the position of the symbols. I’ll have to play with it and see what happens.

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