Communicating Modesty Standards to the Women on Your Worship Team

Every year around this time I send an email to all of the women on the worship team at my church to remind them about the importance of watching what they wear when they’re helping lead worship.

It’s awkward to say many of the things that need to be said since I’m a guy. So I had my amazing wife Catherine write the email for me. We tweak it every year, but it mostly stays the same.

Here’s what Catherine wrote. Feel free to pass this along to your worship team if you think it would be helpful:

“To all the beautiful ladies on the worship team,

Its that time of year again when temperatures no longer dictate modesty.  I’ve sent out emails about this before but was reminded of the challenge this past Sunday when I showed up to church in a dress that seemed not-so-low-cut at home but was, I thought, inappropriately low with a baby tugging on it! Arg. So, here’s a quick reminder about expectations for modesty on the worship team from someone who doesn’t always succeed in following them herself. (I do try!)

A quick reminder of why this is a big deal as worship team members: Mostly because our purpose is to draw attention to the Lord, not ourselves. We all know that most men struggle with purity in the way they look at scantily clad women. Many of them are very successful in meeting this challenge, but the time to test them in their resolve is not in church. (As if we should really be testing them any time!) Yes, it’s their responsibility to guard their hearts and avert their eyes if we are just too beautiful, but we can lovingly assist them in this as their sisters by not tempting them! Our goal is to lead them into seeing Jesus, not distract them.

Some practical guidelines (as “modesty” can be a very vague term): Sorry if these are a little over-explicit, but I know we all come to modesty from different places, so this gets us on the same page.

No cleavage in the front or back
This was my mom’s favorite rule to tell her students when she taught science lab classes. I love it! But, just be careful that your shirt is not showing cleavage and that you can lean over to pick up fallen music without showing those front row people a little more of God’s beautiful creation than they should be seeing. I know this is hard with deep “v”s in, but tank tops underneath are always an option. (Be careful in this too, as I know I’ve been frustrated to discover that some of my tank tops are even a little low cut if I’m being careful.)

Test skirts for length
This is more of a challenge this year than it has been in the past, as short skirts are definitely in. I think a good rule of thumb for when you’re up front is that your skirt should touch your knees when you’re standing up and not show too much thigh when you’re sitting down. Also, remember that when you’re in the informal choir, you are elevated in comparison to much of the congregation. This means your skirts will look shorter since they are looking up to you.

Make sure you can be expressive in worship without showing skin between your shirt and your skirt/pants.
Again, long tanks tucked in or out can be helpful in this. Raise your hands in front of the mirror and see what you see! You don’t want to be inhibited in worship because of a shirt that might ride up. Also, check for underwear (or “cleavage”) sightings when you sit down.

Use discretion in the tightness of your attire

As summer comes use discretion about sleeve lengths
I really don’t think sleeveless shirts or dresses are an issue, but strapless is obviously out (unless you wear a sweater over the top) and I think the same could be said about strappy or tanks.

Oh, and obviously make sure that your underwear isn’t visible through your clothes (ie. no see-thru clothes)!

I know that sometimes modesty can be a touchy issue with women, so I hope I haven’t offended anyone! None of these are hard-and-fast rules. They’re just the things I try to think about as I pick clothes. And the reasons I get mad at my wardrobe so many times as my clothes shrink in the wash or I gain weight. (Ha. There’s only so long after having a baby that you can legitimately wear those nice long maternity tops!)

One more story (that I’ve told before) before I stop: My junior year in college, one guy (you don’t know him) started leading worship in chapel on a semi-regular basis. He seemed nice, Godly, and smart. But he always wore very tight shirts. It was actually kind of uncomfortable to look at. So my roommate and I dubbed him “one who causes us to stumble”. (Although I have to admit that we didn’t think he was very attractive, just dressed in such a way that it seemed he was trying to attract. He was not attractive, but he was distracting.)

Now whenever I hear about that guy, or see people he hung out with, I am reminded of his yucky tight shirts. I guess the point is that we are not the only ones who should be dressed to attract attention to the Lord, not our bodies. But this is only to the girls because its a lot easier for men to dress modestly and undistractingly. (Sheesh. Most of the time, they’re just boring… “-ly dressed”, that is.)

Love,
Catherine

3 thoughts on “Communicating Modesty Standards to the Women on Your Worship Team

  1. Leslie May 10, 2010 / 5:49 pm

    Good post! At First Baptist Houston, where I used to lead worship at, women weren’t allowed to wear skirts shorter than mid-calf, and we also couldn’t wear sleeveless. I thought this was good, b/c not only did it watch for immodesty but it also modeled modesty.

    And I TOALLY agree with the men being modest too! I saw a video recently of a popular Christian worship leader with a “deep-V neck” (low) cut shirt. You could see his chest hair and that he worked out. I thought, “how did no one catch that?” I think men need to watch out with their clothes just as much as women do.

  2. Jon Las May 11, 2010 / 11:52 am

    I never had a huge problem with attire back in Manila. The dresscode–regardless of the season (we only have 2- sunny and rainy!) has been standardized, plus it could get quite cold in our worship center.

    But now that I’m Worship pastor in Canada and the changing of the season is more “pronounced” we’ve been seeing more skin as spring and summer approach! I definitely needed this blog entry, but I will need a wife to write such an email to the ladies in the team! Haha

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