I may be wrong, but I suspect that some of my readers won't like today's post. It's about pulpit attire—a topic many of us have had to face as churches try to reach younger generations. Here are some of my thoughts on why clothing matters when we're preaching.
- It's an issue of contextualization. What works in one church may not work in another. The first church I pastored would not have minded if I wore pants and a polo shirt. My second church, though, expected their pastor to wear a suit and tie. I've been in overseas setting where a pastor not wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and tie would not have been heard. Loving people well means being willing to contextualize my attire so others might hear the Word.
- Clothing does send signals. Sometimes it says, "I'm still living in the '70s" or, "I'm messy." In other cases, it says, "I like to rebel against tradition" or "I'm too lazy to iron my shirt." In a more positive bent, it sometimes says, "I want to become all things to all men" so some might be saved. These perceptions may be just that—only perceptions—but we still need to recognize them when we preach.
- Clothing can be part of an intentional outreach strategy. Perhaps the best illustration is the pastor who wears a coat and tie in a traditional service but then wears jeans with an untucked shirt for the contemporary service. He's doing that intentionally because of the church's desire to reach multiple generations through different services.
- Clothing can distract from the message. When your clothing looks strange (or even just decidedly different), it's not always easy to hear your message because of the visual distraction. I suppose we can blame that issue on the hearers, but it's our responsibility as the communicator to figure out how to communicate most effectively. That responsibility includes not allowing our clothing choices to hinder someone's hearing the message.
Tell us your thoughts about what preachers ought to wear as they preach.
Listen to the podcast below to hear from one pastor whose church discovered the changes it had to make to continue reaching people for Christ.
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.