Wear this, not that

6

Several weeks ago, I decided to preach wearing an attire that could be referred to as unusual for my congregation—namely blue jeans and white rubber shoes. I did so in an attempt to drive home a point in the sermon. However, due to time constraints that occurred in that particular service, I wasn’t able to get to the illustration and I simply left it at that. Most people, of course, noticed the unusual attire but didn’t give any awful remarks about it (my church is very accommodating). However, if this incident were to occur at another church, the pastor may no doubt have an earful after the service.

In my over six years of ministry, I’ve seen all sorts of outfits and getups on stage. From basketball jerseys and dog tags, to khaki shorts and sandals, to designer jeans and shirts, and to suits and ministerial gowns. Don’t you just love the variety?

So can a preacher wear whatever they feel like wearing when they preach? Absolutely… not! There are two distinct philosophies when it comes to preaching attire:

(1) “Wear Sunday’s best… every Sunday.”

This usually means wearing formal (or business) attire. You are meeting the King of Kings after all, right? So why not wear your best outfit? Pros: You look awesome and respectable. Cons: You may be perceived as someone who’s a cut above the rest, spiritually distinct from everybody else, and unapproachable.

(2) “Judge me by the content of my character.”

This means that a preacher’s character is far more important than what they wear. Therefore, wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Pros: “The preacher is one of us.” Cons: You may look weird and awkward in some occasions (“Hey preacher boy, it’s a wedding”).

I don’t think there’s a right philosophy to go by—both have their pros and cons. I guess it greatly depends on the situation. But here are some tips that will help you look decent at the very least on any stage:

(1) If you’re a guest preacher, it’s always safe to wear the attire that is specified by the church. Go and ask somebody in charge what their congregation would prefer you wear. If it’s your church, buddy, you can wear whatever you like.

(2) If there’s no specified attire, wear “one step” above the audience. So if the audience is wearing shirts and jeans, you might decide to wear dark jeans and a formal long-sleeve shirt. You want to be distinct from the audience but not overly fancier than they are. You can also find out what the worship leader and singers are wearing so that you can match their level of formality (or informality).

(3) It’s always safe to bring backup attire if you’re not too sure. You can always dress down if you find that you’re too formal for the occasion. But you can’t dress up if you didn’t bring anything along with you.

(4) Lastly, wear something that you purposely thought of wearing. Don’t wear something just for the heck of it or because you were in a rush to get out of the house. Take a few moments to think about what you’re going to wear to every preaching engagement.

What are your thoughts on preaching attire? Does it really matter what pastors wear?

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6 thoughts on “Wear this, not that

  1. Hi Brian. Interesting article, thank you! Whilst I personally like to wear a suit and tie, I do feel that it is the heart of the preacher and his message that is important not the clothes he wears. Culture certainly needs to be addressed, The United States will be different to Europe as Europe will be different to Africa for example. For me in Hungary another issue is the weather. Our churches do not have air-conditioning (many do not have heating), therefore in 104 degrees short sleeves and smart short trousers are fine and in winter wearing a jacket whilst preaching can also be acceptable.

    • I’m with you there, GK. I believe that the heart is more important than the clothes they wear. As Jesus revealed, any wolf can wear wool. And yes, understanding the culture is important. We don’t want to purposely offend other cultures and create a roadblock for the gospel to be preached.

      Thanks for joining the discussion!

  2. I think this is more a question for the church, its culture and its dress code.

    I think we’re all a little bit more partial to the content of what’s being taught, than what the pastor’s wearing externally. =)

    • Hi Naj,

      I’d also like to think that we’re more partial to the content that’s being taught rather than the clothing. But you’d also be surprised at how many people would be upset/offended by pastors wearing “unacceptable” attire.

  3. Man looks at the outward but God sees the heart. When I’m leading P&W I were whatever I like which Is usually jeans and T shirt. If anyone has an issue with that I would question their level of spiritual depth. I’m not in a fashion show and not interested in pleasing men.

    • Hey Mark, you’re right on target with the Biblical principle. God looks beyond the external appearance and right into a person’s heart. The heart is what matters most to God.

      Also, as a P&W leader too, I don’t recommend suits and ties. It just feels too restrictive!

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