Clothing Optional: A Worship Experience
I grew up in a world that on Sunday you put on your best clothes and went to church. People didn’t ask questions. Your outward appearance said it all. You always looked extra nice on Sundays. As I got older and became a worship leader, I carried this model with me. If I was on stage, I had dress shoes and a nice button down shirt. That shirt came from the dry cleaners and was carefully transported to the church so it wasn’t wrinkled. I would setup, run rehearsal, and just before it was time for service to begin I would “finish getting dressed”. Leading worship in shorts was a big no no. The thought of wearing a hat was even crazier. The thing is I could never articulate why I wore my best clothes to church other than this is what I was supposed to do.
As I got older and started touring, I found myself having a battle every weekend to make sure that I was looking the part. Going from denomination to denomination, the only difference seemed to be what I wore on Sundays. Sometimes I got it right, and other times I got it very wrong.
A worship leader’s job on Sunday is to lead people in worship and get out of the way. Worship leaders (we) have the best job in the world. We get to lead people in worship. It’s the only thing that will happen in eternity.
Here’s the thing: in today’s world of social media and smart phones, people can see right through the surface. It’s almost impossible to hide. People are desiring to know you, not the artificial you. People want to be led authentically. Worship leaders, pastors, and other church leaders are elevated on a platform even though we are just like everyone else. Our job is to point people to Jesus from a place of who we are and not what we look like then get out of the way. When people come to church, they aren’t looking at you and me. We are merely pointing. The average person wants to know they have a leader that is real. Our job is more relational and less about performance. Where is the heart of what we are doing? It’s the same argument for whether we need intelligent lighting and fog. If we remove that, will people still worship? We should always strive for excellence but that has nothing to do with what we wear.
Be yourself. Maybe that’s a dress shirt and slacks. Maybe that is a dress. For me, that’s a black v-neck and jeans. Be who you are on stage and off stage.