Rick Warren has been used by God as a messenger of the good news to tens of thousands of people in need of a Savior. The work being done by Pastor Warren is, without question, a work bringing about the transformation of lives for the glory of God. Our church has been training a hundred leaders in preparation for the launch of Celebrate Recovery, a ministry to help people to find recovery from chemical and non-chemical addictions through Jesus Christ. This ministry was begun by Pastor Warren's church and is being used by churches and pastors nation wide. Rick has been a family friend since the days he was a seminary student at Southwestern Theological Seminary and attended Southcliff Baptist Church, a church pastored by my father from 1976 to 1982. Rick would sometimes lead Sunday night worship sitting on a stool playing his guitar, wearing jeans and sandals. Little has changed over the years. Most of the time when Rick speaks to his church (see picture) he does so in casual dress. His influence is so vast, many young pastors imitate his style, including dressing casual when they teach/preach on Sundays.
Some, including John Piper (see picture below), will rarely speak to their congregation without a suit and tie. It's been my practice over the years to also always wear a suit and tie when I teach from the Word of God. I don't think my example (or Piper's) is necessarily one that other pastors should be required to imitate. Personally, I think there are many factors that come into play when it comes to the pastor/teacher's dress on Sundays including culture, climate, tradition, etc... There seems to be no hard and fast rule on the subject found in Scripture. Why do I wear a suit and tie? Well, I never see a professional comedian (think Jay Leno, Dave Letterman, etc...) or a professional broadcaster (think Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, etc...) in the United States do their thing on television without a suit and tie. My personal feeling is that what I'm delivering is more important than either comedy or news, so I'm going to deliver it in an even better style than the the comedian or the broadcaster. BUT, (and this is a huge conjuction), in no form or fashion am I saying that someone else who does NOT wear a suit and tie is being unprofessional when they teach the gospel. I believe that Christians in churches should accept the decision of their pastor in this matter--even if the pastor's decision is different than your personal taste. Some of our members in the contemporary worship service (REFUGE) come very casual. Others in our two more traditional Sunday morning worship services come casual as well. I wear a suit and tie no matter which service I am speaking and trust that the people of Emmanuel accept my decision.
But the reason for this post is the attitude I've noticed among some (not all) of the emergent, contemporary or younger pastors. There is a sense that if a pastor does not dress casual, he is communicating to the congregation that he is not "authentic," "approachable" and "transparent." It's almost as if there is an unwritten rule among some pastors that "casual dress equals Christian authenticity." I don't think the way a preacher/teacher dresses on Sunday morning necessarily communicates authenticity or transparency. It's the way he lives his life, not the way he dresses himself, that communicates these important character qualities.
In His Grace,