You Can’t Tell Me What to Wear!

I think it’s time for some worship leaders to grow up.  I know the artsy types are free thinkers, like to push the boundaries around them, and don’t like to be told what to do.  It’s part of their creative make-up and helps make them who they are:  explorers.  However, I believe that these reasons are sometimes just excuses to circumvent the expected, and many times in the process hurt and offend others.

I recently attended a wedding.  The setting was a small Catholic church, complete with hardwood pews, kneeling benches, and stained glass windows.  This traditional setting had a modest sound system and had added a retractable screen for a projector, but otherwise every effort had been made to keep the aesthetics true to its history.  This wedding was a formal event, most people in suits or dresses.  

After I was seated, I was admiring the skill of the worship leader who was playing, singing, and just providing a nice ambiance before the ceremony.  It was then I was horrified.  The worship leader was also in a suit and tie, but decided to express his uniqueness by wearing teal Converse.  This man was being paid by the bride and groom, and obviously expectations were set by them, the pastor, and the sacredness of the event; yet I felt like they were totally disrespected.  I felt embarrassed for them by this rude gesture.

Each Sunday, anyone on the platform represents the church and pastor.  In many cases, the pastor has set a climate or culture that they want established.  There are guidelines set, whether written or verbal.  This can vary from a suit and tie, to jeans and a t-shirt.  Whatever the expectation, those who are allowed the privilege of serving on the platform should follow the dress code.

And this is where many worship leaders say, “You can’t tell me what to wear!”  Think about other jobs:  McDonalds tells their employees what to wear; nurses are told what to wear; and offices set a dress code.  Truth is, most of us are told what is acceptable and what is not.  

So I’d like to encourage every worship leader to put their pride aside and be sure they are following the rules given to them.  There is great freedom within the boundaries set, as long as we are obedient within those parameters.  Show respect to the people or event you are participating in, whether it is a church service, wedding, VBS, or funeral.  Meet the expectations, and represent the authorities above well.

Written By: Dave Feltman. Dave is a Search Coach for Froot Group, a worship staffing and consulting company.

Career Advice, Pastors, Worship

6 thoughts on “You Can’t Tell Me What to Wear!

  1. Art on

    While. I can apreciate a dress code, you seem to be endorsing yours over those at churches you visit?

    I heard a story about Micheal Jackson requesting Eddie Van Halen to play a solo on his album. The producer told Eddie to play this kind of solo. I’m sorry, you could have hired any guitar player to do that? If he asked for me, he should get me?

    If you ask a quirky dressing guy to be your worship leader… deal with it. In like manner, if you hire a pastor who likes double breasted suits, don’t ask him to preach in jeans and a t-shirt.

  2. Jacob Kitchens on

    I take it based off the tone of this blog that you consider the Pastor to be the CEO of the church. However, most churches opperate with a personnel committee that would be the group to set these parameters. I also see that you are assuming that the person in question did this totally on his own. Did you consider that he may have cleared this with the bride and groom ahead of time, or are you presuming the worst.

    The Pastor/Worship leaders relationship is critical to a successful church. They have to be 100% on the same page. It happens that I agree with you that the foot attire was inappropriate for the settings unless it was pre-approved by the couple being married. But I also believe that Pastors need to remember that they are there to Shepherd the church, not Lord over their staff. If the church sets a dress code, discuss it at the hiring table. Then let the personnel team handle it. Focus on winning souls…not winning a battle in the office.

    For the record, I work in telecommunications, so I don’t have a dog in the hunt one way or another.

  3. Tyler on

    Ugh, legalism rearing it’s ugly head.
    I’m curious if you asked that worship leader if there was a story behind the teal shoes. There could have been a connection for those involved. Also, horrified, really? Then there’s this line, “So I’d like to encourage every worship leader to put their pride aside…” Really, every worship leader? Way to stereotype. I’m a Worship leader and I can assure you that I am acutely aware of the gravity of what I do on that platform. I will agree that there are some worship leaders that wear things I would never wear. But I understand that those things are simply my preference and I would never dream of telling them to grow up.

    All of that, I don’t really care about. What I have a problem with is your apparent lack of understanding of what the church should be. Let me be perfectly clear, when I am on that platform every week, I am absolutely not there to represent the church or pastor. I am there to lift high the name of Jesus Christ. I am not there to present a good looking outward appearance. I am there, AS. I. AM. That’s what Christ wants, our true selves. This is a heart issue. A spirit issue. An acceptance of oneself issue. This is a realization that Christ doesn’t care how I come, He only cares that I’m here. The absolute ONLY expectation we should be aiming for is God’s. When I walk into that room and set foot on that platform my focus is razor sharp. I could not care less If someone is horrified by what I’m wearing.

    The church should be a place where everyone, even those on the platform, should be accepted for who they are. If they enjoy wearing suit and tie, wonderful! If they enjoy wearing t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, wonderful. When did we become so legalistic that meeting the expectation of anyone besides God was even a thought.

    Lame.

  4. Lynda barber on

    Did you ask the bride & groom wether they were offended? Perhaps they were good friends and liked his stylish expression. I’ve seen groomsman do this! It’s just an expression. I’m sure he didn’t do it out of disrespect.
    Not sure God is bothered by our creative expression he’s more concerned with our hearts.

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