Church, Ministry Connections

Too Casual?

I am all for casual dress. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy during the week. I like to be comfortable. I love my driving caps, and my pair of bright red Converse All-Stars. I do not, however wear those things when I am ministering publicly.

That’s not to say I somehow transform into Fundy-Pastor on Sundays or on hospital visits. Sometimes, I wear a coat and tie to our congregation’s worship gatherings; but generally, I wear a nice button-down shirt and khakis.

Like I said, I am all for casual dress.

But (and you knew that was coming!), can church leaders be too casual? I submit that they can.

What do I mean by too casual? Here’s a checklist:

  1. Ripped jeans – actually anything that is ripped or torn.
  2. Skin tight t-shirts (particularly with horrendous pseudo-hipster silkscreening)
  3. Belts made of canvas
  4. Suit jackets with epaulets
  5. Paint splatter (nothing bothers me more than intentionally dirty things)
  6. Mascara (ok, ladies you can wear it. I was referring to men.)
  7. Unkempt facial hair
  8. More than one stretchy bracelet around either wrist
  9. Any kind of “ironic” advertisement, like a mechanic’s shirt with a nametag embroidered on it (especially if it says “pastor”)

(#5 and #9 do not apply if you actually ARE a mechanic or painter and have to come to church straight from work.)

I just think that a pastor should be clean, neat and together when he is speaking or leading. His clothes should be clean and ironed. His appearance should communicate preparation, not primping. (I have written similar things about leaders who dress to gaudily and showily as well.)

What gets me about this too casual look adopted by some church leaders is that it is intentional. They are adopting a slovenly appearance because they believe it makes them more relatable, that it helps them connect with their audience.

And I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything “relevant” about wearing dirty, ill-fitting and/or damaged attire. There is nothing in me that says, “Wow, that guy tries really hard to look cool” and equates it with Scriptural instruction or moral authority. All I see is the legions of youth leaders I encountered as a teen and rolled my eyes at when they tried to act my age.

People are going to disagree with me, and that’s ok. I am not a bishop telling my underlings how to behave. This is just my opinion. I don’t have Bible for it or anything. In fact, since those who dress too casually use “cultural relevance” as their justification, I will as well.

I believe it is “culturally relevant” for church leaders to communicate a certain level of maturity when performing the functions of their office. (How can you argue with cultural relevance?) My standards of dress are simple – clean, neat, in good repair.

I don’t care if you wear a shirt designed not to be tucked in. I don’t care if you wear jeans. I don’t care if you wear sneakers. I don’t care if you have a fauxhawk or a soul patch or sideburns or a lumberjack beard (I think those are kinda awesome, actually!) or you frost your hair.

Wait. No, I do care if you frost your hair. You’re a dude, embrace your manliness and do not frost your hair.

Wear pink (if you must!). Wear salmon. Wear pastels. Wear dress shoes. Wear a tie (if you can tie one correctly). Wear whatever.

Just be clean and neat. Respect the congregation, and they will respect you.

Ok, tirade over. Now to go check Facebook and see how many people defriended me over this.

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