I wear a suit because it is a good and expected tradition to follow. I will say that due to the cultural changes in our country, you could wear shorts to preach in today and few would object.
- Although traditions can be bad things and are warned about in scripture (Colossians 2:8), tradition is not inherently wrong. There are many traditions that Christians hold to that are not necessarily supported by scripture, but not against scripture either. This is one of those examples. A minister is expected to wear a suit. That is what society wants to see as a minister visits a hospital, makes a speech, or appears in another public setting. That is what the congregation expects as he preaches on Sunday morning. I see nothing wrong with this tradition, and in keeping with it, I wear a suit to church. I do not want to put any attention on myself by being different and opting not to wear a suit in a culture that expects me to do so.
- 2. I wear a suit because it is modest.
Christians are commanded to be modest.
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 2:5) just like it is a tradition for a Baptist minister to wear a suit, it is also tradition for ministers of other denominations to wear robes, collars, and forms of gaudy clothing. I see no reason why a minister should wear something that is so far above the people of the church. I want to communicate with my clothing that although I am serious about my work, formal about my approach, and traditional in my style, I am humble in my association with the people. A suit is a common expression of business. At church, we meet to do the business of the Lord. I modestly identify myself as a minister doing the business of the Lord, so I wear a suit to church.
I am speaking about preachers who preach in the pulpit on Sunday here. The bible does not say you can not wear a suit, therefore I will wear a suit.
I am not asking for your opinion and do not care to really hear it. You might like the Cleveland Indians that is your choice and I like the Cincinnati Reds and that is my choice.
I have my reasons why I do and they are from a mind set that I have developed over 50 years.
We must be careful not to be a temptation with what we wear to church.
Don’t dress to attract people to your Body. plain and simple. It’s not appropriate and it’s condemned in scripture.
We must be careful not to give the impression that our church is for rich people by what we wear to church.
Don’t dress in such a way that it shows a class division. The church should be the one place where your bank account doesn’t matter.
We must be careful to dress in a way that gives appropriate respect to meeting with the Lord.
Pick out appropriate clothing for a meeting with the Lord. I think the principles of order and respect should come into play here.
Clothing and Calling
1. The robe, among other things, helps emphasize the office of the pastor and de-emphasize the personality of the man in the pulpit. Sometimes it’s hard to be led in worship by a elder or pastor who is a good friend or a peer or even (especially) one who is younger. To help us get over this feeling, the church in general, and the Reformed church in particular, has historically placed special robes on her ministers when they conduct worship. This helps the people to remember that it is not just good ol’ Jeff Meyers up there; rather, it is God’s appointed minister leading us into God’s presence and speaking God’s Word to us. Strictly speaking, the worship service is not conducted by Jeff Meyers anyway, but by the robe of office which Jeff Meyers happens to be filling at the current time. We submit to the office, not to the man, during worship. (The concept of submission to church office is eminently biblical: Acts 20:17, 28-35; 1 Cor. 12:28; 16:16; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Thess 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 3:1ff; 4:14; 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17; & 1 Pet. 5:1-7.)
We must be careful not to become so caught up in clothes that we become dress obsessed or dress righteous.
Whereas as I would say the robe I wear is a suit.
These truths are reinforced when the pastor wears something that reminds the people of his special calling on the Lord’s Day. In the Bible clothing and calling are often connected; a person’s calling or office together with whatever authority is connected with the office is often visually symbolized by the clothing the man wears (Gen. 9:20-27; 39:1-13; 37: 3-11, 23; 41:1-44; all of the references in Exodus and Leviticus to the clothing of the priests; 1 Sam. 2:19; 15:27; 18:4; 24:4, 5, 11, 14; Ezra 9:3-5; Esther 8:15; Isa. 22:21; Jonah 3:6; Matt. 22:11ff.; 27:31; Mark 16:5; Luke 15:22; Rev. 1:13; 4:4; 6:11; 19:13, 16). The purpose of the robe is to cover the man and accent his God-ordained office or calling.
2. The teaching elder who leads the worship plays a symbolic role during worship. When he leads the congregation in prayer before God, he symbolizes Christ leading the church in prayer before the Father. When he reads and preaches the Word, he symbolizes Christ, the husband, speaking to his holy bride (which is, by the way, one of the main reasons why women cannot be pastors: they cannot symbolize Christ the Husband to his bride, the church, 1 Cor. 11:2-10; 14:33-38; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Tim. 2:11-15). The robe is not meant to set him above the congregation, but to set him apart from them because of his unique office as pastor during the Lord’s Day worship service. Here’s what the French Calvinist theologian Richard Paquier says about this:
It is natural that the man who officiates in the worship of the Church be clothed in a manner corresponding to the task assigned to him and expressing visibly what he does. Moreover, whoever leads in the act of worship does not perform as a private party but as a minister of the church; he is the representative of the community and the spokesman of the Lord. Hence, an especially prescribed robe, a sort of ecclesiastical “uniform,” is useful for reminding both the faithful and himself that in this act he is not Mr. So-and-so, but a minister of the church in the midst of a multitude of others. (Dynamics of Worship: Foundations and Uses of Liturgy [Fortress Press, 1967], p. 138).
May be I should wear a robe.
The casual dressemphasis of churches today is not a financial issue, but a spiritual issue. Churches today are building huge, multimillion dollar facilities that are carpeted, air-conditioned, and outfitted with the latest in high-tech electronics. Are those churches built by the poor? No, they are built with money (or pledges) from the middle-class (or above). Why is then this emphasis today on casual attire for church such a hot issue? It is rare when a contemporary church’s advertisement does not contain something about casual attire. The reason is our lack of teaching the fear of God today. God is not someone to fear today — He is just everyone’s good buddy.
Rick Warren also found out that his congregation like to dress-down on the weekend, because their jobs required them to dress-up all week long. Is that not strange? That God’s people would honor their bosses above God? They will dress-up all week long for their bosses and for the sake of making money and putting across a good image to their customers, but when it comes to God and church, people want to have it their own way. But that is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Psalms 89:7 says, “God is GREATLY TO BE FEARED IN THE ASSEMBLY OF THE SAINTS, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” God was not created for our pleasure — we were created for His. Revelation 4:11 says, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED.”
Some people dress-up fancy to impress people at church — they are wrong. Some people dress-down when they go to church, because it’s the weekend, and they are going to relax and no one is going to tell them what to do (meaning they are not going to go to a church where they get “preached at”) — they are also wrong. Other people dress-up (meaning they put on some clean, decent clothes) because they are going to worship God — they are Scriptural right. Exodus 19:10, 11 says, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and LET THEM WASH THEIR CLOTHES, And be ready against the third day: for the third day THE LORD WILL COME DOWN in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.”