My experience at the C3 Conference has exposed me to a lot of the big name pastors in the United States. Among some of these pastors, there seems to a trend towards “high fashion.” What?
Now, don’t get me wrong…these are men that are doing some very positive things, and I am not trying to impugn the entirety of their character. Just poking them a little, with full awareness of the hipster glasses I’m wearing at the top of this page.
Judah Smith-beloved Seattle area minister and excellent preacher-is a part of this crew.
Steven Furtick of Elevation Church also “represents.”*
Good looking guys. But in them are we reaching the final stage in the youth-groupification of churches? Are we creating a new standard of dress that in its rejection of “the plain” might become just as oppressive as the rigid suit-and-tie regime of decades past?
Then there is Ed Young, Jr., pastor of Fellowship (mega) Church. He seems to delight in the fun of it all. While he appears to do this rather tongue-in-cheek, I can’t help but wonder if “swagger” is what he is really all about. Take a look at Pastor Fashion, a website seemingly made just for the conference. While admittedly farcical, why would anyone waste time on such a silly idea in the first place? At best it is a distraction and at worst runs the risk of highlighting that not-so-nascent sin of American materialism.
Now, I don’t want to be the arbiter of what a person wears…but seriously. Pastors, can we agree to dress a little more normally? Can we agree to stop risking the medium becoming the message? Can we [gasp] dress a little more professionally or plainly? I am not calling for a straight-laced suit and tie here, but whatever would be considered normal and non-distracting for your audience. This will of course vary from culture to culture, but there is no need to be a fashion plate** in service of the gospel.
This is where I sometimes like my more Reformed and liturgical brothers and sisters, who long ago decided a robe that covers all was the best way to go.
*UPDATE: So…I was too harsh on Furtick. Carl Lentz was the greater in this area at C3.
**UPDATE: At some level, you had to be here to fully understand my grumpiness. As I said, I am not trying to force everyone into one mold. But are we trying to be pastors or trying to be cool? I’m not sure that’s a dumb dichotomy…