Writings by Cole Huffman

Hart Shaffner Me

This article will appear in our June church newsletter:

A couple of Sundays ago, in the second NewSong service in the gym, I noted that I was about the only guy in the room wearing a tie.  This neither alarmed nor concerned me.  I don’t make an issue of Sunday dress.  Modesty in attire is a biblical concern, of course.  And I’ve been told that suit-wearing to church is because we are to look our best for God.  That rationale satisfied me for a long time until I came to the realization that it was non-sensible theology, even subtly counter to the gospel.  I look my best for God clothed in Christ, not Oak Hall.

Nevertheless, I’ve been wearing a suit most every Sunday since coming into the employ of First Evan eight years ago.  When we moved here from Murfreesboro I had two suits, a pair of dress pants, and a couple of dress shirts.  I wore a tie on Sunday mornings at my church plant in Murfreesboro.  I remember it surprised my co-pastor to see me show up for our first service wearing a tie.  He’d assumed we’d be casual.  I kept doing it though, especially on the Sundays I preached, as I suppose it just seemed more natural to me.  It was neither a fashion statement nor a theological statement; call it clothing conditioning.  Although I grew up in a more rural church setting, I remember my dad and most of the other men in the churches of my youth wore suits—at least ties—and a couple of the older gentlemen were still sporting powder blue and dark brown leisure suits well into my high school years.  Can you say LAPELS!?

From my pulpit view of our church gathered each Sunday in the sanctuary and gym, I’d say fewer men among us are regularly wearing suits and/or ties.  Jackets are still worn by many, especially in cold weather, but most of our men have opted for business casual or just casual—golf shirts and khakis.  Many of these guys wear suits during the week and the weekend is the one time they can free their neck from a collar.  I don’t blame them at all.  Casual dress is especially true of the services in the gym, even with the mix of generations in those two services.  (It’s not all young people in the gym just like it’s not all old people in the sanctuary.)

But on that recent Sunday mentioned above when I noted a scarcity of ties in the gym’s second service, I wondered whether it mattered to anyone there that I was wearing a tie?  I’m inclined to think it doesn’t and that if I ditched the tie in that service, or even changed out of a suit into a golf shirt and khakis, none of you in that service would even hiccup.  It’d be noticed by you, yes, but not especially remarkable to you, I think.  And I’m glad for that about you.

It would be a different scenario for you in the sanctuary, and pointing out the difference will offend only those who want to take offense, because again, I wear suits on Sundays by choice.  Nothing in my job description says I must.  But if I appeared in the sanctuary pulpit tieless or even jacketless—except on picnic Sundays—I would likely hear from some of you the refrain about looking one’s best for God.  I respect your sensibilities and have chosen not to make my Sunday attire a test of wills with you.  Good thing I like suits!

So why don’t I just change clothes between our traditional and contemporary services or even simply take my tie off when preaching in the gym?  I don’t have the time between the venues to change clothes, for one thing.  And I don’t really want to anyway.  That seems a silly effort to me.  I think First Evaners are more dialed into the content of my message than my clothes.  I appreciate this about our church.  I don’t wear my jacket in the gym and I often loosen my tie and roll up my sleeves for the second NewSong service.  But that’s due more to being hot from preaching under the platform lights in the sanctuary.

The rule of thumb on this, I think, is that a pastor’s Sunday dress should reflect the fashion of his people.  So long as men at First Evan wear suits it is fitting (nice pun) for me to wear a suit too.  Should the day come that suits and ties are closeted for Sundays I will closet mine too.  I am laughing as I conclude this piece—Oak Hall just sent me an e-mail with Father’s Day special offers!

Posted by Cole Huffman at 5:50 PM
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