Some Thoughts about Preachers and Ties

An article about preachers and ties? Well, yes, and here is why.  I get asked about this quite frequently and have noticed that there are some fairly strong opinions involved.  So, here are my simple thoughts.

  1. There is a sense in which it doesn’t matter.   I have heard some incredibly powerful and life-changing preaching from men who were wearing ties and I have also heard some incredibly powerful and life-changing preaching from men who were not.  Sometimes they were the same man! For instance, the first time I heard my friend Bill Rice III, his Romans 6 sermon was a life-changer for me personally and he wore a tie that night.  Some years later, I heard him preach a sermon about having a Godly family. That message is still bearing fruit in our home and in our children but he did not wear a tie when he preached that message.  Apparently, there is more to a preacher’s Godliness and effectiveness than whether or not he wears a tie. 
  1. Very few are entirely consistent.  I have a friend who strongly believes that preachers should wear ties, but who doesn’t when he preaches in the Philippines or at some Men’s Conferences.  Likewise, almost any preacher who has spoken at a teen camp would have done so in more casual attire.  On the other hand, there are many occasions where almost any preacher would wear a tie.
  1. The reasoning behind our choices are vitally important.  I suspect that some have lousy reasons for the choices they make.  They may feel that they have a greater appeal to those who are lost, but, as far as I can tell, none of my neighbors are more apt to attend my church because of what my pastor wears.  His clothes aren’t even on their radar!  Others may believe they are more Godly because of their choice.  And on and on the list goes.  The “whys” are still important.  Why wear one? Why not? Is it that we just don’t like them? Is it that we believe God is leading us that way? If we are just trying to be cool or follow the latest fashion trend, that may not be the best reason. If we are wearing a tie because we believe it is an essential ingredient to being a fundamentalist, we likely don’t understand what a fundamentalist actually believes. Our “reasons” are always important.
  1. We can and should treat each other gently and graciously.  For me, I prefer a tie.  I look good in one – at least according to my sweetheart who is a very intelligent and Godly lady – and I was raised to believe that a preacher should “look like a preacher.” I am concerned about casual Christianity (which I know is different than casual dress), but I am just as concerned about a Christianity that seems to consider matters like this as one of the fundamental issues of our faith.  Regardless of our respective positions in this matter, we can still treat each other gently and graciously, and love and serve together either way. 
  1. The autonomy of the local church is a wonderful truth to know.  Each church is self-governing and can decide how it will conduct its services and what it expects from its leadership. If I were a pastor I would simply defer to my church congregation unless doing so prevented me from following the direct leading of the Spirit.  When we are following the Spirit’s leading we can then teach and lead our church to understand God’s leading.  Believers can certainly disagree and likely will, but should still be spiritual enough to disagree without dividing a church over a matter such as this. As much as possible the Bible teaches, live peaceably with all men (see Romans 12:18).
  1. There are questions more important than whether or not a man wears a tie. Here are just a few:  Is he a soul-winner? Does he teach the Bible? Does he lead his family well and are his wife and children doing well and modeling a Godly Christian family? Is he a good pastor, caring about the needs and concerns of those under his care? Is he gentle and gracious? Is he living a life of purity? If the answers to these questions are right, then whether or not he wears a tie is not nearly as important as we sometimes tend to make it.

Well there you have it. Thanks for reading my thoughts about preachers and ties!

What do you think? Am I right or wrong?

Your sincere friend,

Dave Young

10 thoughts on “Some Thoughts about Preachers and Ties

  1. I have heard many arguments on the matter and have concluded that it is a matter of respect. Our culture wears ties to present themselves respectably. An executive business man wears a tie to work, not because he is better than other workers, but because he has an important job to do that should be handled with respect. News anchors wear business attire because they are presenting themselves respectably to the public. So, to me, a pastor wearing a tie shows that he respects that he is a man of God. That doesn’t have to be all the time, but I think there are certain times (Sunday morning sermon, wedding, funeral, etc) that warrant such respect. These are just my thoughts I decided to share. I don’t really hold a stern opinion about it.


    • I am sure there is a matter of respect involved and I think that you are right when you say that some in “our culture wears ties to present themselves respectably.” Politicians will do that, although to be fair, there wouldn’t be much about them that we should emulate. Know what I mean? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  2. Dress reveals character and respect. We dress up for a wedding, for a funeral and for special events; so we need to look nice when we go to worship the Almighty God!! I don’t think that necessarily means a tie; but, I do think the apparel should reflect our respect in God’s house.
    I absolutely love reading your notes. You are so practical and down-to-earth. And when I see you around town (a rare thing) with your wife, you treat her so sweetly even when you don’t even know anybody’s watching! You are true blue!


  3. Very balanced approach. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I am so sorry to hear your wife went blind because that could be the only reason she still thinks you may look good. I really do appreciate your ministry.


  4. Thanks Dave. Good thoughts and very well articulated. I appreciate that a lot, as lots of people rant but few really talk. Again, thanks.


  5. Thank you for the balanced approach. I don’t wear a tie when I preach, at least not usually unless the particular congregation or setting specifically calls for it. In those cases I do so out of respect to their culture (or perhaps it is better to think of it as their subculture). Occasionally I wear a tie at my church because it matters to a few senior saints and I do it as a simple way to say I love you, and that you matter to me. They always notice the tie 😊. Regarding whether it matters to an unbeliever, I will simply say that satan uses all kinds of hindrances including cultural differences to hinder the work of the ministry. I have seen that patriotism, politics, union membership, being in management, and education level (I never expected to be looked down upon because I was well educated, I thought that only ran in the the opposite direction) can be a hindrance. And of course, style of dress can be an issue. Most things, as your helpful article suggested, can be handled in a manner that is out of balance, and therefore we need to think it through and show respect to one another. Respect is always in style.


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