A Preacher’s Dress Code

a preachers dress code

Bob Bender, Lead Pastor, FBC Black Forest, CO

What should I wear to church? Each church has its own unwritten dress code. Colorado was voted “the worst dressed state in the nation” because we walk around in shorts, fleeces and hiking boots! Colorado Springs definitely isn’t North Dallas, and I love “Casual Colorado!”  

I find it interesting that when I first started out in ministry (in the 70’s at least) that we young pastors dressed “up” on Sundays to look a little more mature. Now that I am older, I dress “down” to look younger! At least I don’t make the mistake of dressing like I am nineteen while in my sixties. Nothing looks worse than an older guy all “gapped up.”  

I preached in First Baptist of Arkansas City, Kansas, once where a newbie Christian who was a clothier gave his testimony around the dinner table. His first time to come to the church was when the preacher was preaching on tithing. The newbie from his clothing business perspective asked his wife, “Why does the preacher want everybody to bring their ties to church?” He thought the preacher was saying “ties” rather than “tithes!” 

Is there a standard attire for those of us who minister the Word weekly no matter where we are geographically or socio-economically? I dare say “Yes.” I found this customary attire recently in Exodus 28. Here God directs Moses to “make holy garments for Aaron”–the OT priest or picture of the NT pastor.

First our dress code is represented by the twelve stones—each one representing a distinct tribe of Israel that hung over his heart. “Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for a memorial” (vv. 10-12). This ephod was a memorial, not only for the LORD and the sons of Israel but also for Aaron as a reminder to him that he was to have the people of God on his heart “continually” (v. 29). Likewise, we are to have our flock over our hearts continually. “Know well the condition of your flocks and give attention to your herds” (Pr. 27:23). Jesus, our Good Shepherd “knows His own sheep by name” (Jn. 10:3). Do you have your flock over your heart? Do you know them by name? Do you notify them on their birthdays? Do you pray for them unceasingly? Do you take time to visit with them in the lobby on Sundays focused only on them? Do you tell your flock you love them?  

Secondly and no less importantly, our dress code consists of an engraving on the front of the head dress–“Holy to the Lord” (vv. 36-38). My thoughts ought to be Godward as I possess and practice the mind of Christ. What good is a heart of compassion if I do not have a head of consecration? Although Aaron could not read it because it was on the front of his “hat,” others could. Do others see us as holy? The greatest gift we can give our people is Jesus in and through us. Are you taking specific steps to avoid sin? Are you pure of heart? Are you filled with the Spirit and Word of God? Does your spouse see you as holy? Are you bringing every thought captive to Jesus? Don’t be a member of the “hole in the wall gang” in Ezekiel 8:7-13 where the Ezekiel was shown through a hole in the wall into the inner recesses of the elders’ thoughts and lives—“detestable things.”  

And so this is to be our “church dress code” represented in the breastplate and head dress—hearts out to the people (love) and “heads up” to the Lord (holy). Join me in wearing God’s dress code well rather than playing “dress up” (or down) on Sunday mornings and throughout the week for that matter.