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Preaching discuss How should a preacher dress in the pulpit? in the The Church forums; G'day All! I was wondering what your thoughts are on how the preacher should dress while preaching? At this stage I generally preach in a ...

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    Josh Williamson's Avatar
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    How should a preacher dress in the pulpit?

    G'day All!

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on how the preacher should dress while preaching? At this stage I generally preach in a dress shirt and jeans, but I've been thinking about wearing a suit and tie. Just wondering what everyone's thoughts are on "Preaching Dress Code".

    Thanks in advance!

    Josh
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    He should always wear some clothes lest his nakedness be exposed.
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    Culture/context is probably going to influence the answer the most, but I've grown quite fond of the Geneva gown.

    The following is from Wikipedia of all places, but it's a nice summary of why the gown is a great choice:

    Worn over street clothes, traditionally a cassock but today more commonly a business suit with or without clerical collar, the gown eschews ostentation, obscuring individual grooming and concealing fashion preferences, and instead draws attention to the wearer's office and not the person.
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    Wayne's Avatar
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    Nothing religious about the Genevan gown, at least not originally. It was an academic robe.

    THE FIRST BLOW IS STRUCK AGAINST CLERGY VESTMENTS

    It was not Martin Luther who first attacked the practice of clergy wearing ornate vestments. Andreas Karlstadt was a compatriot of Luther's--a professor at the University of Wittenberg, who had awarded the Doctorate to Martin Luther and spoke at Luther's side during the great debates at the Universities which followed Luther's challenge to the Church.
    While Luther hid from the Pope's representatives in the Wartburg Castle, Karlstadt proceeded with radical changes in the worship service at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

    Christmas Day 1521, Andreas Karlstadt performed a "Mass" like nothing ever seen before in Germany. He had rewritten the Mass in a simplified version which he proceeded to utter in German. For the congregation this would have been their first experience hearing the Mass in their own language. For the first time he gave the bread and wine into the very hands of the people.

    Karlstadt rejected the traditional clergy vestments and adopted instead his 'regular clothes'. Because he was a Professor he wore his black academic gown. Roland Bainton described this remarkable event as "officiating without vestments in a plain black robe".

    When Luther heard what Karlstadt had done he was furious. Luther believed in reform but not in revolution. He felt that changes should be proceeded with in an orderly fashion and with full approval of the representatives of the people. Karlstadt had no approval at all for his action.

    The black gown, which Karlstadt had initiated, appeared with various local modifications all over Europe. Luther himself wore the black gown three years later.

    It is the height of irony that Andreas Karlstadt, who first wore the academic gown in place of clergy vestments, was later to become dissatisfied with this change. He came to believe that academics were as far removed from the people as the clergy. He then rejected the concept of university degrees and titles. He rejected the academic gown in favour of peasants' garb and took up a farming vocation. He wanted to be called simply "Brother Andreas".
    But by this time even Luther had adopted the black academic gown.
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    Filipe Luiz C. Machado's Avatar
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    Hi, Josh.

    We need to understand that the wear is just to hide our nakedness - is not a saint wear [like the anglicans think]. Here in Brazil [especially in my city] we have s a very hot weather, which prevents [sometimes] the use of hard clothes. I donīt think so that we have a rule to "what is the correct wear", but I think that all the clothes be discrete and appropriated to the local place. Of course that if we have in the beach, we are not using only swimwear [it could be a "stumbling block" *I donīt know what is the correct expression in english to it, sorry* to the congregation], but weīll still put some t-shirt to preach. But we need going carefully on it, because unusual clothes maybe say to all the congregation that this moment are not saint, just a meeting to hear and read the word of God. Likewise, the hard clothes may to give the impression that the preacher is a saint and not a sinner.

    So, I think that the moderation in all the times needs to be follow - for the Glory of God and not the manīs glory.

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    Your context & culture will determine the answer.

    If I am preaching in an established church with a pulpit I wear a suit or a sport coat & tie, depending on where they are located. In some I wear I wear a clergy shirt & suit.

    @ my church plant I wear jeans & a collared shirt, never with a tie.

    The key point is that how you dress should never distract people from your message. You can do that by being too casual, or too formal.
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    Something low-key that doesn't distract the congregation with flashiness, "coolness" or make them think the preacher is "trying too hard". I would say that anything that bears witness to the preacher's personality (something that is happening in most evangelical churches) should be something to be avoided. The preacher is a herald of the King, and it is to the King that we are to draw all attention to.

    FWIW, I too have grown quite fond of the Geneva Gown.
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    I agree that the local culture is a major factor.

    As for areas where "European" culture is a norm, I favor the Genevan gown as a "uniform" or badge of office. It sets the man apart as being the preacher presenting the Word of God and not just the guy you went to the ball game with the day before.
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    Reverently, but as others note, this will be culturally dictated. I don't think hip t-shirt and ripped jeans will ever be reverent, but far be it from us to exhort an indigenous Nigerian or Samoan pastor to necessarily wear a suit and tie if that's not appropriate and reverent in their cultural setting.
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    The pastor should dress in a manner commensurate with his culture's custom of respectful attire. In every culture there is a way to dress so as to express respect for the dignity of him whose house we have entered. If he be of royalty then his visitors will dress accordingly, and the local citizenry will recognize the respect given.
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    Scottish Lass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfschultz View Post
    It sets the man apart as being the preacher presenting the Word of God and not just the guy you went to the ball game with the day before.
    Doesn't his physical location (up front, possibly behind a lectern in a pulpit, etc.) set him apart? If most of the men in the church wear suits, the preacher would not be distinguished by wearing a suit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filipe Luiz C. Machado View Post
    Hi, Josh.

    We need to understand that the wear is just to hide our nakedness - is not a saint wear [like the anglicans think]. Here in Brazil [especially in my city] we have s a very hot weather, which prevents [sometimes] the use of hard clothes. I donīt think so that we have a rule to "what is the correct wear", but I think that all the clothes be discrete and appropriated to the local place. Of course that if we have in the beach, we are not using only swimwear [it could be a "stumbling block" *I donīt know what is the correct expression in english to it, sorry* to the congregation], but weīll still put some t-shirt to preach. But we need going carefully on it, because unusual clothes maybe say to all the congregation that this moment are not saint, just a meeting to hear and read the word of God. Likewise, the hard clothes may to give the impression that the preacher is a saint and not a sinner.

    So, I think that the moderation in all the times needs to be follow - for the Glory of God and not the manīs glory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbcbob View Post
    The pastor should dress in a manner commensurate with his culture's custom of respectful attire. In every culture there is a way to dress so as to express respect for the dignity of him whose house we have entered. If he be of royalty then his visitors will dress accordingly, and the local citizenry will recognize the respect given.
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    I wear a suit when I preach, though occasionally I take off the jacket.
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    The Geneva gown is good. It identifies the office of the pastor and removes potential distractions about the pastor's sartorial choices.
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    Dress "up" for your context.

    If you dress "up" the people will tend to follow. By showing a separation for a holier purpose, you will lead toward that atmosphere. Setting the tone from the top for that doesn't, of course, mean every person will follow, or that they ought necessarily be judged for that (e.g. James 1, and favoritism away from the truly poor, comes to mind).

    But many people will take a casual attitude toward the holiness of the Word, God's presence, the sacraments and focus more on the egocentric, because that's in the sin nature to do. Set a tone away from that and the "commonness" of other worldly tasks. And, don't forget to, in the ordinary course of things, preach on modesty- behavior and dress. Sorely needed in our generation.

    A casual or provocative dress will lend itself toward a casual attitude, or toward undue attention to self, neither conducive for the holiness of corporate worship.
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    Dress in a way that will not make you or your clothes a distraction from the Word that is being preached.
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    It would be inappropriate to charge pastors with a duty (dressing a certain way) that the Scripture does not command. Context is key in this. My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Williamson View Post
    How should a preacher dress in the pulpit?
    It seems I answered this exact question here about a year ago. But I will reply again, lest an important point be missed:

    A preacher should dress at home before he gets to church, not in the pulpit.
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    Scottish Lass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    Last edited by Scottish Lass; 08-02-2011 at 12:33 PM. Reason: punctuation/clarity
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    Joseph Scibbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Lass View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    At one of our campuses I actually saw a lady with a headcovering and dress. I could ask the same question about your church. Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos? Why would the circumstances of worship not be flexible to allow creativity and the surrounding culture to influence the circumstances of worship?
    Joseph Scibbe
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    1 Thessalonians 2:4
    but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

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    Scottish Lass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos?
    I doubt it. We have everything from shorts/jeans to traditional African dress to suits to those who cover--all in a congregation numbering fewer than fifty.

    Seeing one woman dressed that way doesn't mean it's not considered to look foolish.
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    Would you look foolish and out of place in tight jeans and a hoodie at a State dinner with the president and the queen of England?
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    Joseph Scibbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbcbob View Post
    Would you look foolish and out of place in tight jeans and a hoodie at a State dinner with the president and the queen of England?
    So, I assume you wear a tuxedo to church every week?
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    I preached this past Sunday and wore a pair of dark grey chinos with a plaid button-down (similar to the one I'm wearing in my profile pic). Preaching again this week and will probably wear something similar (except probably with a "nice" pair of jeans instead of the chinos). And, I wear something comparable on Sundays that I'm not preaching, and most of the time during the week.

    We took on this topic recently over at Vintage73, if anyone's interested: Why is the Pastor Wearing That?! | Vintage73.com | Vintage73.com

    ---------- Post added at 02:16 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:15 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by rbcbob View Post
    Would you look foolish and out of place in tight jeans and a hoodie at a State dinner with the president and the queen of England?
    Oh, we know where this train goes... ;-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Lass View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos?
    I doubt it. We have everything from shorts/jeans to traditional African dress to suits to those who cover--all in a congregation numbering fewer than fifty.

    Seeing one woman dressed that way doesn't mean it's not considered to look foolish.
    To answer your question: You would look out of somewhat place yes but we have a pretty wide swath of dress styles across our church.
    Joseph Scibbe
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    1 Thessalonians 2:4
    but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

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  29. #29
    Andres's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Lass View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    At one of our campuses I actually saw a lady with a headcovering and dress. I could ask the same question about your church. Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos? Why would the circumstances of worship not be flexible to allow creativity and the surrounding culture to influence the circumstances of worship?
    Tight jeans? Please tell me you don't mean skinny jeans like these. skinnyjeans.jpg And why do you say Driscoll would look foolish in a Geneva gown? I think he'd look quite respectable.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Lass View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    At one of our campuses I actually saw a lady with a headcovering and dress. I could ask the same question about your church. Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos? Why would the circumstances of worship not be flexible to allow creativity and the surrounding culture to influence the circumstances of worship?
    Tight jeans? Please tell me you don't mean skinny jeans like these. skinnyjeans.jpg
    No, not skinny like those. I look terrible in skinny jeans.
    Joseph Scibbe
    Chaplain Assistant
    Fort Lewis, WA

    1 Thessalonians 2:4
    but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

    http://twitter.com/just_joe_scibbe

  31. #31
    Andres's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Lass View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    At one of our campuses I actually saw a lady with a headcovering and dress. I could ask the same question about your church. Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos? Why would the circumstances of worship not be flexible to allow creativity and the surrounding culture to influence the circumstances of worship?
    Tight jeans? Please tell me you don't mean skinny jeans like these. skinnyjeans.jpg
    No, not skinny like those. I look terrible in skinny jeans.
    Good. Every man looks terrible in those. Joseph, I edited my above comment, so you may not have seen it, but why do you say Driscoll would look completely foolish if he wore a Geneva gown? I think he'd look quite respectable.
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  32. #32
    Joseph Scibbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
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    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    At one of our campuses I actually saw a lady with a headcovering and dress. I could ask the same question about your church. Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos? Why would the circumstances of worship not be flexible to allow creativity and the surrounding culture to influence the circumstances of worship?
    Tight jeans? Please tell me you don't mean skinny jeans like these. skinnyjeans.jpg
    No, not skinny like those. I look terrible in skinny jeans.
    Good. Every man looks terrible in those. Joseph, I edited my above comment, so you may not have seen it, but why do you say Driscoll would look completely foolish if he wore a Geneva gown? I think he'd look quite respectable.
    Again, I think it comes down to the context. In Seattle, no one wears a gown and it would alienate him from the congregtion. It would actually be a distraction to many people that come to Mars Hill.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
    Again, I think it comes down to the context. In Seattle, no one wears a gown and it would alienate him from the congregtion. It would actually be a distraction to many people that come to Mars Hill.
    Well...

    Exile Presbyterian Church

    Just sayin'. :-)
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  34. #34
    Zach is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    I think both the Pastor and the attendees should dress themselves in a manner worthy of whose house they are going to. Forgive me for sounding post-modern, but that looks differently for everyone. Some will show their reverence and humility by wearing a Geneva gown and others something less formal. All the formality in the world would not be good enough for God, so dress should be less about formality than conveying a respect and reverence for God.

    On a side note, I saw Piper preach in a Geneva gown on Ligonier Sunday at St. Andrew's Chapel and I swear it was like 4 sizes too big for him. It was certainly different to see him preach in one, but I wouldn't say he looked foolish. I'm with Andrew in saying that Driscoll would look respectable in a Geneva gown.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Scibbe View Post
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    My pastor (Mark Driscoll) would look completely foolish if he wore a geneva gown but it would be a silly idea for a pastor that preaches to an older congregation that expects a higher standard to adopt a jeans and shirt dress code.
    Are you connecting the pastor's dress solely to reflect the congregation? Should this be true for all circumstances (not elements) of worship? Would I, in a dress and headcovering, "look completely foolish" in your congregation?
    At one of our campuses I actually saw a lady with a headcovering and dress. I could ask the same question about your church. Would I look foolish and out of place in "tight" jeans, black hoodie, plaid shirt, chuck taylors, and tattoos? Why would the circumstances of worship not be flexible to allow creativity and the surrounding culture to influence the circumstances of worship?
    Tight jeans? Please tell me you don't mean skinny jeans like these. skinnyjeans.jpg
    No, not skinny like those. I look terrible in skinny jeans.
    Good. Every man looks terrible in those. Joseph, I edited my above comment, so you may not have seen it, but why do you say Driscoll would look completely foolish if he wore a Geneva gown? I think he'd look quite respectable.
    Again, I think it comes down to the context. In Seattle, no one wears a gown and it would alienate him from the congregtion. It would actually be a distraction to many people that come to Mars Hill.
    By no one, whom do you mean? No one who attends the church? Well I doubt any attendee other than the pulpit minister would be wearing a gown, so that doesn't make sense. Do you mean no other ministers? I've never been to Seattle but I find it hard to believe that no other minister in the whole city of 3 million people doesn't wear a robe. As far as the gown being a distraction, I just don't buy it. How in the world would that be a distraction?
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  36. #36
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    It'd certainly be a distraction for a while, anyway, considering the culture of MHC. Folks could get used to it, but I just don't see it happening, considering his previous quips about "dudes in dresses" (referring to ministers in gowns). :-)

    Not really a big deal either way, though, since Scripture doesn't exactly dictate what a pastor is to wear.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by raekwon View Post
    It'd certainly be a distraction for a while, anyway, considering the culture of MHC. Folks could get used to it, but I just don't see it happening, considering his previous quips about "dudes in dresses" (referring to ministers in gowns). :-)

    Not really a big deal either way, though, since Scripture doesn't exactly dictate what a pastor is to wear.

    I agree...scripture doesn't have anything to say regarding what a pastor is to wear. Interestingly, Christ does talk about how we should not give special attention to one who comes into the congregation who wears nice linens and has fine things. That would be one argument for trying to not draw special attention to oneself with a Ralph Lauren $10,000 suit. However, the martyrs are clothed in fine robes in heaven (Romans 8). I can see where coming to worship, we would seek to honor God with the best of what we have. It would make sense to me to wear my best Jeans if that's all I had as a congregant, and it would make sense to me to wear my best suit if I had suits. If I can get dressed up for my job during the week, shouldn't I give my God the same honor and respect as I do my employer?

    In regard to the pastors, though, I'd argue that a robe or a suit has in the past been symbolic of the education and time it has taken for them to get to the point where they have been in the position over a congregation. Wearing a pair of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt will likely be too distracting for many people who have come to worship God. I believe a suit to be the least distracting, and will get in the way of worship the least. The focus is to be on Christ, regardless of the outfit of the preacher.

    Really, the attire of the preacher should be no more distracting than the accent he has.
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  38. #38
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    Oh hey, Ethan. I didn't see you there. :-)
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by raekwon View Post
    Oh hey, Ethan. I didn't see you there. :-)
    I found that post helpful.


    :thumbs up:
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  40. #40
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    IMO clothes should be clean, modest and a non-distraction. Personally, I'm tired of some people pretending that Christianity is a rich man's religion by instituting dress codes.
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