Friday, September 19, 2008

Dressing Down

So here's a picture of a small group of members of a Lutheran congregation with their pastor. Which one's the pastor? Not sure? Not surprising.

I've noticed that in recent times it's pretty common to see feature stories about pastors with their people, or pastors involved with various church projects, whether in Lutheran publications, or in the newspaper, and the accompanying picture shows the pastor in a simple open collared shirt, or a knit shirt, or something very casual.

To be sure, I might occasionally attend a council meeting dressed like this, and on a Friday I can routinely be seen in such clothes, but what I'm wondering about is whether pastors who are to be photographed as representatives of their churches ought to be so dressed.

Is the dressing down of clergyman a growing phenomenon?

First, they eschewed the clerical garb in favor of neckties and sports jackets; now they're removing those as well. Something tells me this is another little gnawing anticlericalism on the part of the clerics themselves, that is, that they want to affirm their membership in the priesthood of all believers and put off all sense of the office they hold.

While the office they hold is not one in which wielding authority over the people is becoming, that is a far cry from denying that they have authority. One would think that Christian people expect their pastors to be comfortable with this authority; after all, they come hear them on Sundays; they come to be trained, edified, comforted, encouraged, fathered. How can a pastor with no authority do those things? And how can a man who's uncomfortable in the garb which bespeaks the pastor's position be such a pastor?


Anonymous said...

I was always told that familiarity breeds contempt. A pastor should look like a pastor and not try to be one of the boys.


Pastor Jeff Hemmer said...

When a police officer dons a civilian "uniform," it's because he's trying to trick the bad guys into thinking he's not a cop. Whom are these pastors trying to fool: parishioners, seekers, or themselves?

Doctors at the Mayo clinic are required to wear suits to work and not out on the town. They have to change clothes so citizens of Rochester won't see people in suits misbehaving and think it's the doctors.

Bottom line: it matters what you wear or what you choose not to wear.

Anonymous said...

Many pastors have joined the Confederacy of Dunces by dressing in ways which demonstrate bad theology.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

The matter is another instance, I think, of pastors uncomfortable with the authority they have; which always tends to lead to mischief on their parts.

Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

A few years ago at a pastors' conference one presenter bemoaned this reality among pastors today. Afterwards, during the Q&A session a pastor got up and defended the practice saying that he was not comfortable being confused with a priest. At this the presenter responded, "So you're comfortable dressed as a pentecostal?" Good topic.

Anonymous said...

Check the October Reporter Page 3 SMP picture. There are two "mentor" pastors and two students. Which are which? (Your cheating if you read the caption).

Steve Harris

Anonymous said...

Check out the picture in the October Reporter on page 3. Two mentor pastors and two SMP students. Who is who? (You cheated if you read the caption before your selection).

Steve Harris