13 February 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
The young pastor of my church is an OK guy, but it bugs me to no end that he doesn’t dress up for church. Following some evangelical pastor who is his hero, he wears khaki slacks and Hawaiian shirts. I know I’m probably old-fashioned, but it robs church of seriousness for me. This casual attitude comes through in the whole service, with a lighthearted attitude at times. When he gets down to it, he sometimes makes some good sermonic points, but the whole “I’m a cool dude” feeling really gets in the way of taking him seriously, much less being able to reflect reverently on the experience. What do you think, Aunty?
Signed, Too Casual for Me
Dear Too Casual,
If you don’t care for your young pastor’s approach, that’s okay. Not every style of ministry, worship, or personal taste necessarily has to appeal to you for you to get a blessing.
The problem comes when people confuse personal preference with holiness or godliness—and people in churches do tend to be susceptible to that line of thinking. Nothing you have said about this young man makes Aunty think that he has done anything offensive or disrespectful to God. So Aunty hopes you’ll try to resist the urge to make a judgment about his fitness as a pastor or his effectiveness at shepherding a congregation.
And as you said, he’s young! He surely has some growing and maturing to do—as you did at his age. For example, something the young do is adopt role models. In this case, his role model is Rick Warren, who was indeed very effective in a Hawaiian shirt in his large evangelical church in Orange County, California.
Sure, his wearing a loud shirt may seem silly to you—there was a lot more to Rick Warren’s success than that. But can you try to appreciate (and sympathize with) your pastor’s youthful idealism? His search for an identity that works for him? Remember when you were young, full of dreams and passion, and a heart to make changes? So rather than trying to change him, show him your support. Offer him the advice of years. Pitch in to help him with his efforts to grow and shepherd the congregation.
Whether the Hawaiian shirt works for your pastor or your congregation remains to be seen, but Aunty hopes you’ll give your pastor room to experiment. You might find you’ll end up liking him after all. And he can certainly benefit from your support. But trying to make him into the pastor you wish he was will only be a frustrating and discouraging exercise for both of you, not to mention a risk of causing a church controversy.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.