Many Ligonier students have asked us over the years about our logo and if there is a particular meaning behind it. It’s a good question. For a ministry that seeks to be biblically wise and intentional in all our words and actions, many guess that there must be a story behind the Ligonier “tree” and how it came to be the symbol of this international Christian education and broadcasting ministry. After fifty years of ministry, it’s good to remember our roots, so to speak.
Symbols are important. From cave paintings in Lascaux to Egyptian hieroglyphics to the pictures carved on the signs of medieval shopkeepers for the illiterate masses, symbology is something very human. Mathematicians live in the realm of symbols. At the mundane level, companies and their advertising and graphic design agencies spend billions of dollars every year on brand development exercises. Communicating with symbols allows us to quickly communicate concepts, ideas, and movements.
The idea for the Ligonier “tree” logo came from the ministry’s first patron, Mrs. Dora Hillman. The land on which the Ligonier Valley Study Center was established in 1971 was filled with trees, and Mrs. Hillman was always planting more. Rumor has it that she even had Dr. R.C. Sproul out on the property doing some planting in those early days.
Embodied in this idea for the Ligonier “tree” is the idea of growth for the Christian. The Lord in His Word exhorts His people to grow in dependence on Him. While we are called to retain a childlike faith, it is no sign of health to remain a babe in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1–2). Ligonier serves those Christians best who are purposeful in seeking to grow in their love and obedience to Christ.
The biblical symbol we are given in Psalm 1 is also instructive. The growing believer is pictured as a mature tree growing heavenward, planted in good soil beside life-giving water. The Word of God is the soil in which the man or woman of God grows. There is a direct correlation between our focused study and retention of God’s Word and our joy, stability, and productivity as Christians. The contrast in Psalm 1 is with the scoffer who refuses to hear the Lord and is therefore like chaff, blown away by the slightest breeze.
But the tree does not grow unto itself. Trees beget trees. Such it is in the church as the Lord moves mightily in His people to bring about the benefits of His gracious covenant in Christ. For His promise and our hope is a covenantal one: Those who love the Lord will grow strong in Him, and that growth will produce fruit, and that fruit will produce seed that grows into saplings who will eventually become enduring arbors in their own right. From the beginning, there was a multi-generational vision of faithfulness and fruitfulness for Ligonier Ministries.
The truth of God’s Word in the head, heart, and hands of His people multiplies to others as we seek to obey Christ’s Great Commission. In the same way, it is engrafted into Ligonier’s mission, passion, and purpose to reach as many people as possible with the knowledge of God and His holiness. The desire of this ministry—the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul—is to come alongside the church to proclaim, teach, and defend the character of God until all of the elect are gathered.
Therefore, the iconic logo for Ligonier Ministries is a simple picture of promised growth as Christians follow the sovereign Lord of the harvest.