Does the way I dress affect what happens when leading worship? There are a number of issues surrounding this – tradition, comfort and authority to name just a few. In some Churches, a shirt and tie is fine, others expect the full suit. Light-weight fabrics that allow you to “breathe” are OK in some circumstances while in others as many layers as possible is preferred! “Looking the part” immediately affords the preacher the “right” to speak in some places, while being more “casual” brings with it a certain “approachability” in particular settings.
It’s not always easy to know what is best in all circumstances. However, a quick chat with someone in authority at the Church should help – or does it? Sometimes there is a “hidden agenda”. All the necessary information isn’t always passed on. Lapses in memory can occur all too frequently. So, with that in mind, does it really matter? The short answer is . . . YES!
To turn up to speak in a Church with an aging congregation in shorts and T-shirt is highly unlikely to be appreciated or gain the preacher a return invitation! Speaking in a “progressive” Church wearing the full 3-piece-suit, complete with conservative tie and spit-polished shoes is likely to greeted with polite wonder and a general feeling that whoever this is, is lost in a time-warp bubble!
Is there some sort of “middle ground” we can stand secure upon?
If we prepare ourselves so that we can be comfortable during the leading of worship in terms of sufficient warmth or otherwise in our clothing, we can then consider what else is required. Of course, it cannot be taken for granted that the heating in a Church will be on during the winter or off in the summer, so be careful here!
Generally speaking, the gentlemen can wear smart trousers, a shirt and tie without causing any offense and taking along a matching jacket covers most bases. The ladies cannot go far wrong wearing a skirt and blouse with a matching jacket to make up the ensemble.
So is that all there is to it?
Perhaps it is, but why should we have to bow to such traditions and pressures anyway?
Maybe it is best summed up in the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:32,33. This Scripture tells us not to cause anyone to stumble and rather than seeking our own good to look to what best serves the many.
We need to be sensitive to those whom we serve when leading worship. As preachers, it is better to submit to others in our dress code, so that nothing stands in the way of God’s Word. It is a strange thing, this issue of what the preacher wears. I might feel at my most comfortable in jeans, but for the sake of God’s people I will dress in such a way that does not upset someone looking at me in the pulpit. That is something none of us can afford to ignore.