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Thread: Distraction and Worship

  1. #11

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    Not too long ago our worship director instituted a dress code policy for our team, because someone in the congregation had complained that one of the members wearing a t-shirt and jeans was a distraction to him because he took it to mean that that worship team member wasn't giving the proper respect to God. ... Some things are clear-cut distractions and can be eliminated easily. But in other not-so-clear-cut situations, what would you guys do?
    Dress codes can be a funny thing, too. There is a degree of subjectivity

    IMO, there should be *something* for guidelines. You do have to draw the line somewhere. Proper respect and reverence is a valid concern. As a team, it's easy for us to treat it as too laid-back, with shoes off, kicked-back Saturday morning dress, etc.

    Our leadership's rationale is that we are there to draw attention to God, not ourselves. Our dress should not draw attention to us. We are also in a leadership type role, we need to dress like leaders.

    Our church right now has a couple different guidelines, Our AM service is the 'flagship' service, and the expectation is at least a 'business casual' approach. For guys, they still prefer a shirt and tie (used to be required), but minimum of a nice collared shirt (like a polo, no tees), tucked in, slacks (no shorts), nice shoes (no flip flops, sandals are ok in summer), etc. For women, skirts & dresses must have hosiery, slacks are ok, blouses need to pass the 'bend over' test. They prefer them to have sleeves, but in the summer they are a little moire lenient- as long as undergarments and tummies are not showing, they are pretty flexible.

    This lines up with other ministry areas- the pastor almost always preaches in a suit or at least a sport coat and dress pants. Ushers in the AM service are required to wear a tie (more to set them apart as 'staff')

    For the evening service, it is a little more casual. Attendance is about half of the morning service and it's the 'regular' crowd. It's more like 'casual Friday- we can wear jeans (no holes, not faded), but not tennis shoes, shorts, or t-shirts (in summer, 'dressy' t-shirts are ok). Tops for the women still have to pass the 'bend over' and covered undergarment test, no spaghetti-straps.

    We have backed off a little bit especially in the evening, because usually our pastor will preach in a pair of jeans and casual type shirt.

    I have experienced everything from 'jeans are ok as long as they aren't old and ragged' to 'we are dressing in Autumn colors this week, so you need to match the theme".

    It's like anything else- it can be micro-managed to death or it can be a free-for-all, and neither one is healthy.

    I can post my notes if you're interested, Mike
    That would be awesome, thanks. Either way you like is ok with me.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by waitin4winter View Post
    I believe we should present our best to God; for some people that might mean a suit, for others it might mean their favorite pair of jeans. But our ability to worship God should not be contingent on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt on stage. Of course, while making my voice heard, I respectfully submitted to the worship director and pastor's decision. But it's an interesting discussion indeed. Some things are clear-cut distractions and can be eliminated easily. But in other not-so-clear-cut situations, what would you guys do?
    I think this particular situation depends a lot on the culture of your church. For example, my church is very casual. Jeans & polos are the norm for our worship team. Some folks wear shorts in the summer. Our pastor preaches in similar dress. It's not an issue because it reflects the comfort level of the congregation. From time to time over the years, we've received comments about the casual nature of the service, but it hasn't changed anything, because those were specific individuals. Believe me, there would be a whole lot more people who would find it a distraction if we were all suddenly up there in suits & ties than those who wouldn't. In other churches, that wouldn't be the case.

    As for the rest, I agree with the general consensus that seems to be forming here. As worship leaders, part of our job is to keep everything running smoothly and as distraction free as possible, but when things do go wrong, we owe it to God and to our congregations to keep going and not get derailed. I think about the other thread that's going right now about setting a good example for the congregation in worship - it's the same idea. We need to model for the rest of the church that we can continue to worship (and worship passionately, at that!) when everything doesn't go as planned.
    Eric Frisch
    www.ericfrisch.com

  3. #13
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    As far a "dress code", I've always told band members to observe the dress of others in their age group who are attending our church and dress accordingly. Other than that, I've asked them not to wear shirts with large/bold text so that we only have one message being communicated from the stage. Based on those two guidelines I've never had any issues.

    Nate

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Neep View Post
    This is one of my "pet" subjects

    There is a huge difference between an indivudual being distracted by a real life horrible experience during the week, and the distractions that WE can cause as a worship group.

    Our job is to help enable folks in the congregation to enter into a frame of mind for effective worship.

    Some of the things that I consider to potentially distract from effective worship.
    Most, or all of them can be solved easily.

    a. On screen visuals not showing the right page of the words at the right time, typos and spelling mistakes
    b. Extraneous sounds. Feedback, etc.
    c. Visual appearance of people on stage – do they look bored, or confused at times?
    d. Something out of tune
    e. Instrument & vocal mix at the desk.
    Is something too loud or soft?
    Are the tonal qualities of each instrument and vocals right?
    f. Poor arrangement of the song. Insufficient practice.
    f. Do the congregation and worship group know what is expected? (End, start, between verses)
    g. Bad continuity between songs (The “moment” can be lost)

    No doubt you can think of more.

    Rod
    Rod, these are all true and i already experienced that one in our church. But there is one thing that really distract not only me i think but for the majority as well. The dress code of church members. I think everyone knows that going to church is not like going to party's where you are very allowed to wear clothes that are too sexy. Mostly as i observed this act brings distraction to worship, instead of focusing, we are drawing our eye to them (Im referring to those sexy ones). I guess very church should take action on this issue so that we will have a harmonious and nice worship service

  5. #15
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    I think it's crucial to evaluate the level of distractions, even going to lengths like interviewing members and semi-new visitors to ask about their candid thoughts on the worship experience.

    Frankly, we can't afford to give any less than excellence. If a member of the band is being distracting either by their obnoxious clothing choices or bizarre guitar effects, I think it's up to the worship pastor to constantly be nipping those issues in the bud.

    Choosing to eliminate distractions is obviously easier said than done, but if it isn't a constant goal of creating (what I call) a 'submersive worship experience', we're missing the point.
    Jordan Mederich
    Founder - SermonGear.com
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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
    I think it's crucial to evaluate the level of distractions, even going to lengths like interviewing members and semi-new visitors to ask about their candid thoughts on the worship experience.

    Frankly, we can't afford to give any less than excellence. If a member of the band is being distracting either by their obnoxious clothing choices or bizarre guitar effects, I think it's up to the worship pastor to constantly be nipping those issues in the bud.

    Choosing to eliminate distractions is obviously easier said than done, but if it isn't a constant goal of creating (what I call) a 'submersive worship experience', we're missing the point.
    How would you manage that when everyone has different subjective views on what's a distraction, or on what's excellent? Some people think it's too loud, others think it's too quiet. Some people want newer songs, others think you're introducing too many new songs too quickly. Some people think anything less than suit is disrespectful, while others feel over-conscious about their own casual attire if they see the band all in suits. You can't please everyone and in a large enough congregation you'll find one nitpicker for almost everything the band does.

    So how do you worship leaders manage this? Or if you left it up to the pastor, how does he (or do you wish he would) manage this?

  7. #17
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    Loved reading everyone's thoughts on distractions and spent the entire time reading wondering how many of these we commit every week as a worship team/leaders. I think we are 9/10. For us, it's how you handle the distractions. SO now that I am past my guilt of distracting worship on a weekly basis with my 'you-can-count-on-them-technical-difficulties'.....

    The only other thing that stuck out to me was... Hosiery!?!?! Oh my stars, if we required ladies to wear hosiery I would be completely confused, as would 98% of the women who grace our stage. (Being a mostly male forum, this is foreign to you, but hosiery is HORRIBLE and HEINOUS, hence the alliteration).

    My #1 distraction/pet peeve are people that let their kids go to the bathroom during the service EVERY week. Every week. It's an hour, every week. Just like last week. Plan ahead. (Again, this is probably personal).

  8. #18

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    I have to say as far as hosiery, they have seemed to back off on that a bit, especially in the summertime. But, our gals and young ladies that are wearing a dress or skirt usually have leggings or something on under it anyways (whether they are singing that service or not), so it's not really an issue. Truth be told, some of the bright shiny tights/leggings things, and fishnet or funky design pantyhose can be more of a distraction than anything else.

    Now I must say that I've never actually seen the leader ask anyone to sit out a service because they weren't wearing pantyhose under their dress.

    The main driver for the pantyhose thing was the platform is elevated about 3 feet, and people (usually kids but some adults) come up to the area in front of the platform. It's not very deep, so the singers were more toward the edge. So, as our singers especially are moving about, they may inadvertently show off a little more than they bargained for, so the pantyhose stipulation was added to help minimize the issue. But, we've rearranged some things on the platform so it's not as much of a concern as it used to be.

    It's the same thing with the 'bend over test'- we used to do more meet & greet during the worship set, and the kids all liked the high fives from the singers, who would have to bend over to give the high fives....

    I had to chuckle at the kids and bathroom remark too. Our pastor has actually made mention of that a few times- lighthearted but serious- take the kiddies to the bathroom before coming in or they can hold it, just like school.

  9. #19
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    Hey there,
    I actually really appreciate your original post. After I read David Platt's book Radical, I couldn't help but view our worship planning through the lens of the book. There are so many "minors" that we major on. As a worship leader, I get so frustrated that the comments I get from folks include, how fast/slow the hymn was sung, how they like the title of the song on each page (or not on each page of ppt), that the song was about a min too long, etc etc. I do grieve because in my own life I experience deep and true worship and if folks are so focused on shiny shoes or delayed ppt, then are they really focusing on God or on the "presentation"? Is their worship so fragile that if someone hits a wrong note they can't worship?

    What I have done is try to shift the focus of worship (I'm new in my position) from one of ministering to people to one of glorifying God. I think that this is making a big difference- even with those who were on the worship team. People are noticing that the focus is off of them (you know, all the "me" songs) and back on God...and are commenting that they are experiencing deeper worship during the service. I'm trying to lead by example- and if the focus is totally on God, then hopefully that message becomes stronger than anyone's personal likes or dislikes.

    On the flip side, I have had to let some folks go because of lack of skill and I've implemented a "do not be a distraction" dress code.

    Anyway, thanks for the posts- they are great!

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