I may take some heat for this with some of my close ministry friends, but here goes. I have attended several Catholic and non denominational youth leader gatherings over the past couple of years and I am always amazed at “the uniform” that many youth leaders and musicians utilize. Skinny jeans, plaid shirts and hip glasses are the rage. A lot of people can pull off wearing them and look great. Unfortunately, there are many who appear really awkward and fall into the group of “trying too hard to fit in”. You see the problem with the trying too hard too fit in club, is that it is in essence contrary to what Jesus tried to do. He wasn’t concerned about fitting in. He was less concerned about appearances and more concerned about souls.
But the LORD said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Rather than imitating the “leading” worship or youth leaders way of dress, we should be concerned about “Becoming who we are” as soon to be Blessed John Paul II once said. If we are standing up and leading teenagers to Christ and proclaiming that God made each of them unique and for them to become who they are. Are we not concerned that if those same teens were to see us with our youth ministry peers, they would merely see us as someone not doing that, but someone trying hard to fit in?
I know plenty of Catholic musicians and youth leaders who are authentic and simply like to dress this way. I just wonder if the perception of success in ministry by associating how trendy people dress is giving us a false sense of being connected. I know plenty of non trendy dressed youth leaders making a huge connection and impact in teens lives. Being connected is more about relational ministry than how someone happens to dress that day.
I know some of you are thinking – Randy you are older and can’t pull off wearing these clothes. I agree, and believe me I don’t try to. I personally would recommend a youth leader who is amazing at relational ministry over a trendy one who struggles reaching out to teens. I’m only saying that we need to keep it real. If the shoe fits, then wear it. If it doesn’t fit, accept who you are and rejoice that God made you that way. Ministry is not about being cool, it’s about love. Nothing we wear should get in the way of that message. They’ll know we are Christians by our skinny jeans? Nope – they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love!