I only own one plaid shirt. And I feel silly wearing it. Sort of like a farmer but for some reason farmers can actually pull it off. Oh, and cool people. Sure, I know plaid shirts are “in” but I just can’t do it.
And tight jeans? The jeans that make your legs look like twigs? No way would I ever even try those things on. I can tell you right now I’m not cool enough to wear them.
Last July, when the national worship leader conference was taking place in Kansas City, I remember following what was happening at the conference on Twitter and seeing a slow but steady stream of comments on how many worship leaders were wearing plaid shirts. Someone referred to them as the “staple of the cool worship leader uniform”. That and thick-rimmed glasses.
And for a moment, I found myself thinking, “I don’t dress like a cool worship leader”. And I was right. I don’t. And I felt self conscious about it. For a few minutes.
There is a wonderful relief that comes from not having to dress cool. A pair of khakis and a blue shirt never get old. Nor do jeans and a polo shirt. Hey, I’ve even been known to wear crocs to a Saturday evening service from time to time. They’re comfortable. Horribly ugly, but comfortable.
By the way, I was roundly mocked by members of my worship team for wearing socks with crocs. Apparently that is not cool. I did take their advice on this one.
In the words of my old youth pastor, I say all of that to say this: worship leaders shouldn’t feel the need to dress cool. Once you start down that road, it never ends. There will always be a new fashion trend, a new shirt you have to buy, a new pair of cool shoes, a graphic tee, glasses frames, and maybe even a tie if you’re fancy. And it’s not worth it. Who does it impress? And why does it matter? Why spend all the time and energy on something so fleeting?
(Caveat: being too far on the “un-cool” side of things can be just as great a distraction as being “too cool”. Rocking a Santa Claus sweater at Christmas time, sporting a nice pair of knee-high black socks with flip flops and jean shorts, or showing off your 1970’s era orange bell-bottoms might not be a good idea either.)
I would argue that worship leaders should be comfortably neutral in what they wear. Be yourself, be modest, be mindful of your context, and beware the temptation to “dress to impress”.
If I accomplish “dressing cool”, but in the process cause the man in the third row to be distracted by trying to read what my shirt says, then I’ve failed. I’d rather fail at dressing cool and succeed in not getting in the way of God receiving people’s attention. Khakis and a blue shirt. You can never go wrong.