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Does It Matter How the Preacher Dresses?

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Does It Matter How the Preacher Dresses?

(I posted a paragraph on Facebook calling for pastors to dress “to inspire confidence”—and not look like they’d been out hitchhiking all night. It’s important to note that I did not say he should wear the uniform of the previous generation—a coat and tie—but merely to “dress one step in front of most of the men in the church,” whatever that means. Twenty-four hours later, we had 245 comments. Clearly, people have strong feelings about this.)

“If I see you standing at the pulpit wearing a suit and a tie, I’m out of there.”

I smiled at that. The fellow who said it is so dead-set on making sure the church does not put too much emphasis on appearance that he…well, puts too much emphasis on appearance.

As I write, the television set in this motel room is running the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses. At some point I noticed something about the [male] candidates for nomination for president.

All were wearing suits and white shirts and ties. Why? Watch any newscast. The anchormen are wearing custom uniforms. How come? This cannot be accidental. It cannot be because they are stuck in a rut. Nor can it be because they are trying to flaunt their wealth or impress the world. These people never do anything—repeat, never do anything!—without good cause. So, why do the candidates and the anchor people dress up when they go to work? We will pause here while you consider your answer.

At the same time, drop in on the typical church and you may be stunned to see that the fellow who looks like a hitchhiker just in from a day on the highway turns out to be the preacher. His jeans need pressing and the t-shirt he’s wearing looks like he has worn it all day. His shoes? Sneakers with lots of miles on them.

Some in the congregation actually take pride in the sloppiness of the preacher’s attire. They say the object is to make the outsider comfortable on entering the Lord’s House. They say the preacher is making a statement against the over-emphasis of the previous generation on externals, on “dressing up” for church.