Modesty in Worship

(article via Roxanne Nanney)

Bob Kauflin over at posted a new article about modesty in worship.  He writes:

“One of the topics in the church that leaders rarely address is modesty. It’s awkward. You can be accused of legalism. People can be offended. It can seem politically incorrect.

But that doesn’t mean it should never be addressed, nor that there’s not a gracious way to do it. Ideally, those who participate in a public platform on Sundays should be aware that people learn not only from what they say but what they wear…

Certain things are clear. We aren’t to treat people differently based on what people wear (James 2:1-5). That means we don’t look down self-righteously at those who dress differently than we do. Both men and women are to dress modestly, preferring others over themselves (Phil. 2:3-4). We aren’t to do anything that would make someone else stumble (Rom. 15:1-2). Specifically, women should wear “respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1 Tim. 2:9).

A wise leader spells out expectations up front, before someone ever joins a music team. But over time, we can drift. Little by little people start to wear things that raise questions or distract others.”

What say you?  Have you had to discuss this with your staff or worship team?  What about students in your youth group?  Or congregation members?  It’s true…what we wear attracts/distracts.  That’s why choir robes are so useful.  Robes unify the entire group no matter the age, size, or physical attributes the singers may have.  I have seen several teams use solid black clothes, ets, but you still struggle with clothes that are too tight, etc.  What about using the other perspective of the staff that wears three-piece suits, cuff-links, and expensive shoes when the congregation has one or two folks in the entire sanctuary that owns a tie, much-less wears it!  Can that be distracting too?  With all of the prayer, Holy Spirit seeking, and resources we use to plan worship, we don’t want to ruin the moment by something as fixable as our attire…

Review the entire article here.  Follow Bob on Twitter here.


3 thoughts on “Modesty in Worship

  1. One of areas that I try to get rid of in worship services is barriers. They are physical, emotional, spiritual, you name it, but the ones that bug me most are the physical barriers–these are the ones everyone can see openly. The most common of these, at least in my experience, are boxed in choir lofts, modesty rails, pulpits, and robes. One of my firm beliefs about worship, both corporate and personal is that all barriers are bad. Jesus made that abundantly clear when he destroyed the one barrier that we could not breach for ourselves–the barrier to connect with God. This is why I try to rid the stage, and personalities on it, of all barriers. If that means having to deal with the occasional battle with modest apparel then I am more than happy to deal with it, for in my mind it is much easier to adjust clothing rather than to breach a barrier.

    • Thanks, Jason! Nice comment. I agree about the barriers. Over time, the platform at HBC has been adapted to rid the 1950’s chairs and pulpit. Slowly, the platform is more open, allowing for more talented instrumentalists to offer praise to God instead of stale, old, and useless chairs taking up precious space.

      We wear robes some and other times, we don’t. Sometimes we sit in the loft and sometimes we don’t. I am trying to make each time different in some way…less predictable.

      I think that modesty is an issue in churches, in general, from youth to middle-aged adults. It must be dealt with in some way…

      Do you think robes are a physical barrier to worship? Do you not think they keep the focus on the message of the music? Or is there a automatic traditionalist label with robes?

      I miss our discussions before and after class at CU! I learned more from those than I did the classes!

  2. As for robes being a barrier or a focus factor, well. . .I say it depends on congregation. It is my experience that for the younger generation, as well as those who did not grow up in church that robes do unify, but also cause confusion and set into motion stereotypes that Hollywood has preyed upon. At FBC Paris we have opted to not wear robes because of expedience– we come out of the loft every week and feel that the faster we can get back out into the congregation the better. On the other hand, there are congregations and settings when I would use robes. (Just another comment: Our robes are cream and the wall color is tan and the chairs/pews ares light green, so when the lights his the choir it washed the choir out a great deal. )

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