Men of the Cloth: Fashion Advice for Pastors, from Pastors?Blogging, Culture, Evangelicals, Featured, Media, Religion — By J.F. Arnold on May 21, 2012 at 7:00 am
It turns out that some pastors lack fashion sense. One Pastor, Ed Young, has taken it upon himself to start Pastor Fashion, a website devoted to the way that our clergy dress. Evangelical ministers are the not exactly who you would expect to set the next fashion trends, but Ed Young wonders why that can’t be:
Pastors aren’t typically known for their fashion. Most people don’t think of the runway leading up to the pulpit. But why not?! Why can’t the men and women of God set the standard for the rest of the world in fashion as well as faith? That’s why we’re launching PastorFashion.com. We want to set the trends.
People have, of course, been reacting to this new website. Many believers are hesitant about the benefits of it, and are quick to say that this site is a waste of time and resources. The Gospel Coalition, for instance, says that:
This is for real. Young’s focus on fashion provides a prime example of Carter’s Law of Pastors and Prepositions: As the celebrity of an evangelical pastor increases, the risk of confusing the prepositions “in” and “of” rises exponentially.
There are a lot of valid points, here. I’m actually in agreement with the general sentiment: this seems like a waste of time for a pastor. I don’t think fashion is always a waste of time; we are created in bodies and with a desire to look good, and I don’t think that is necessarily something to be pushed against. The hesitancy here, though, is a pastor spending his time teaching other pastors to dress well. After all, pastors are in a position where they are expected to tend to the needs of the body: this includes preaching, studying the Word in depth, and meeting with and encouraging believers in their daily lives. It strikes me as odd that a pastor would spend the time required to maintain a website about fashion instead of getting to know his congregation better, or studying the scriptures more, or something similar. This sort of work seems like an odd use of time, as a pastor.
An interesting question, though, is whether it is a good use of our time to critique this pastor’s work on fashion. Some things are worth writing blog posts about, and others are just not worthy of our time. There are plenty of blogs that I read and decide they need no further comment, but this one struck a chord with me, for some reason or another.
I think it hit me because I’ve read so many blogs about this topic in the last week. I’ve read a variety of posts, talked with a few friends about it, and I even posted it to my Twitter so that I could have other people read it and respond with me. On the one hand, this is awesome: I have the sort of network built up where I can quickly get a variety of opinions, and if many of them agree with one perspective, there may be something to that reaction.
The flip of that, however, is that we could easily find ourselves discussing something that seems vaguely interesting that isn’t ultimately worth our time. There is benefit to wisely dissecting a great number of less-than-fundamentally-important things, of course; this is how we hone our skills and practice our wit. But if we never move beyond that, and start talking about things that really matter, we’ll get ourselves stuck in the practicing, but never doing.
So, is fashion advice from a pastor worth talking about? Perhaps the role of the pastor, the importance of appearances on how effective public speaking is, or some other related topic, would be worth a prolonged discussion. Maybe we should even talk about fashion, generally speaking. But should a pastor spend his time talking about fashion? I suspect not.
Note: This is all assuming that the website is intended to be exactly what it appears. If the site is, say, some sort of message about how consumeristic we are as a society, and will be talked about in tandem with a sermon series, then the discussion will shift to the need to publish this on the internet and other similar topics.