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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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,