“I can’t concentrate in flats!” —Victoria Beckham
Outside of music style, the way we dress on stage can be the most commonly divisive thing discussed among those in a congregation. There are three camps that people seem to fit into. Those who believe that the the pastor/worship team is overdressed, underdressed or just right. If you find people who fall into one of the first two camps you are more than likely going to have the opportunity to hear why they feel the way they do. Those who think your church dresses just right aren’t usually as aggressive. Maybe it’s because they feel like they are already getting what they want.
No matter whether you find people in your church thinking those on stage are overdressed, underdressed or just right it is an important topic to discuss. Having a heart for those in attendance is a principal part of your job. Being aware of their concerns is also important. You certainly don’t have to capitulate to each person’s preference, but you should have a handle on majority-rule. If you are constantly swimming upstream in your approach to dress then you’re taking the focus off of Jesus far too much. Below are some reasons for being sensitive to your congregation’s needs and some ways to work through the heart of the matter with your teams.
In everything we do unto the Lord it should be done as our best. Our best thoughts, preparation, organization, resources…everything. As a matter of what we wear there should be no less forethought. Choosing our best clothes to wear doesn’t necessarily mean the fanciest or the priciest. Rather it means choosing clothes that best honor the worship gathering that you are participating or leading in. In some churches, suit and tie are the best and right fit for their congregation. Other churches, like on a sandy beach in Kona, Hawaii, it might mean your best surf shorts and t-shirt are the correct choosing. The answer to this question is always in the circumstances, not in preconceived notions.
The best way to determine what type of clothing ought to be worn is to think of what the majority of those in attendance will wear and try to up your fancy by one or two intervals. When Jerry Seinfeld was asked why he always wears a suit and tie when he performs he responded that people paid money to see him. He ought to be dressed at least a degree better than most in attendance. Ultimately his look honors those who come see him. While Seinfeld may not be the next person you turn to when looking for a quiet devotional book, his principle is pretty good. When we come to the stage looking prepared we gain a keen level of influence from most in attendance. On the other hand, if we dress several levels below the audience I imagine that we begin our worship sets having to earn that leadership that was lost, but could have been avoided. Again, we aren’t talking suit and tie in every congregation or situation. I’m discussing the ability to discern what will give you credibility and respect through what you wear.
Another important part of how to dress and the one that is commonly argued the most is that being fashionable means being relevant. Most churches in America are trying to find ways to stay culturally relevant. Clearly we all know that this is a sliding scale and hard to grab a hold of. What is important is to stay current with what most culturally relevant people are doing. Don’t be a fringe sitter on this. You have to do some homework. If you are dressing 90’s and just waiting for that decade’s style to come find you again then you are annoying. Being relevant to our current day is pretty easy to do. If you are asked to wear suit and tie on Sunday then make it a suit and tie that would work in today’s fashion-sense. If your entire wardrobe is 20 years old then begin to save for some new pieces. Even the smallest budget can find ways to have a new piece of clothing every now and then. I am betting if you needed a swim suit in a new size due to some weight loss you’d find a way to get one.
Truthfully I can only speak to men’s fashion about being relevant. For women’s gear I recommend growing close to some ladies in your sphere of influence who seem to be getting it. I’d be careful to not gravitate toward the avant-garde. Again, our strength in what we wear on stage is that it helps to bring credibility to our leadership. In no way should we be out to shock. Leave that for those who aren’t following Jesus. They seem to be doing just fine with that.
To finish, what we wear matters as much in our preparation as how we prepare musically and spiritually. If it is an afterthought for you put some thought into it. If how you dress is the only thing you think about before you get to church then relax! There are more important things in life than how people perceive you. You’ll get the girl someday dude…you probably want the girl who is attracted to your character more than your skinny jeans.
Does any of this resonate with you and your team? Do you need to have any fashion conversations with anyone? Should you be getting some fashion advice from a trusted source ASAP? I’d love to hear how this hits you! Comment or private message…