Worship Team Wanted: Fat People Need Not Apply

Worship Team Wanted: Fat People Need Not Apply October 5, 2016

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I wish I was making this up.

One of the things I find most bothersome about the modern worship movement is the requirement that all participants must fit a certain model. I’m not talking about a general dress code here, or rehearsal guidelines, but an expectation that you look the part. Maintaining a current and commercially appealing brand is contrary to the gospel, and it’s contrary to point of corporate worship.

This non-denominational church in Hillsboro, Oregon, pastored by a former truck driver and graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center in Oklahoma, has published a set of guidelines that fills in the gaps for you. After the brilliant and courageous Stephanie Drury from Stuff Christian Culture Likes posted the document on her Facebook page last week, the church removed it from its website. Fortunately, you can still see it here.

Here’s a taste of what’s important to New Creation Church (bold indicates my emphasis):

Dress Code
Our main goal is to look professional and our dress should always be modest, as we are not only representing Christ, but Pastor and New Creation Church.
• Clothing must be clean, sharp and ironed. No clashing colors.
• Appropriate shoes must be worn at all times. i.e. No sneakers, tennis shoes, flip flops or shoes with white soles.
We want the worship team to look the best they can! Remember that the way we look is of utmost importance. We are the first thing the congregation sees. People do judge by appearance. We never get a second chance to make that first impression. Please be sure that your style and clothing bring honor and glory to God, isn’t excessive and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
• Dress is to be smart casual. This means nice pants or dressy jeans with blouses or sweaters, and/or jackets for women and nice collared dress shirts for men. Tennis Shoes, sneakers, flip flops, and shoes with white soles are not allowed.

Grooming and Hygiene
• Hair must be washed, nicely groomed and kept neat and clean; no sloppy hairdos or excessively wild styles that draw undue attention.
No excessive piercings, or visible tattoos.
• Ladies, put your make-up on before you get to church. If wearing a skirt, nylons are suggested. No tight shirts, low cut shirts or tummy’s showing. All skirts must be below the knee.
• No excessive colognes or perfumes.
• Bodies must be clean and use of effective deodorant is essential to positive interpersonal relationships.
Remember also that breath mints are available in the bookstore. Please use them! No gum during services.
• No Excessive weight. Weight is something that many people have to deal with. Make sure that you are taking care of your temple, exercising and eating properly.
• Remember that as a music minister people look up to you. Your life must exemplify one of excellence in all areas; spirit, soul and body.

Holiness
Smoking, use of narcotics or alcohol, swearing, illicit sexual behavior and ongoing family problems are not acceptable in a music minister’s life and will not be tolerated.

Attitude
• A submissive attitude is very important among the worship team members. Speaking against the leadership will not be tolerated; neither will attitudes that have their own personal agenda. We are here to serve God through serving Pastor and this body and to be submissive to those over us.

Since the dawn of commercial recorded music, and particularly over the past two decades, church music has descended into recreating this marketable brand, from the sound to the look. They probably won’t spell it out for you like these good folks have, but make no mistake, it’s there, and it’s palpable and oppressive. And, as we see from these guidelines, you can never, ever dare to question those in charge of marketing, lest you be shamed into silent compliance.

It’s this kind of attitude that has turned the modern church’s “worship” into a mockery, a farce, a pointless, narcissistic, self-indulgent exercise. It says that if you conform to our image: if you look like us, sound like us, dress like us, eat like us, behave like us, and emote like us, you too can usher in God’s presence to the mere mortals who watch us, high and lifted up on our stage-altars.

But what about the God who promises his presence among us? What about the great Sustainer, who blows among us as a song in the trees, bringing life and power to the world? And what about the Word Made Flesh, who dwelt among us, and who is fractured and poured out for us at table, so that we can be poured out into the world as God’s prayer for it?

Our great God is with us, and calls us each and every one.

To the one who is disenfranchised, forgotten, and lonely:

God is with you. God calls you.

To the one who is weak, ill, or injured:

God is with you. God calls you.

To the one who can’t shed the excess weight:

God is with you. God calls you.

To the one who can’t afford to look the part:

God is with you. God calls you.

To the one who is different, who will never fit in:

God is with you. God calls you.

To the one with no stage presence:

God is with you. God calls you.

To the one with broken relationships.

God is with you. God calls you.

And to you, the one who is pretty sure you have it all together, the one whose clothes are fashionable, whose waistline is narrow, whose music makes a ton of money, whose family always gets along, and whose “worship face” strikes the perfect balance of orgasm and constipation:

God is with you. God calls you.

And, thanks be to God, that same grace will be there when the image shatters, when the looks fade, when the waistline expands, when the relationship disintegrates, when the grim diagnosis is made, when the pride goes and the fall comes, when the world around us comes crashing down.

Church leaders – pastors, music leaders, everyone – please. It’s time – it’s past time – to stop and think about the performance worship mindset that has led to the “cool kids only” worship team. For the rest of us, it’s time to stop supporting the rock star “worship industry,” with it’s recording and concerts and megachurches.

If we’re so concerned about achieving the perfect look, we may wake up from our music-induced trance only to realize we’ve fallen prostrate at the wrong altar.

Photo:
Flickr, beccafawley, creative commons 2.0

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