expressive worship

Your Freedom is My Distraction

Worship leader Janna Pastin, Nashville TN

I’ve had a beef the last several years with an issue that seems to be getting worse: “over exposure”. And I’m not talking about the sun.

Maybe it’s just me getting older and each generation has thought this way, but I’m seeing more and more skin on women all the time, and it’s too much – especially in church.

For certain cultures or situations, showing a little skin is not an issue, but when it comes to being on the platform in front of a congregation, it’s a problem!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude. I like to be as fashionable as the next girl. But wearing clothes that are too tight, too low-cut, or too short can be a definite distraction for people trying to engage in worship.

Just like we’d tell singers and players that constantly moving your leg to the beat, or any number of other things is a distraction, your clothing – or lack thereof – can be a distraction.

You can be hip and trendy without being overexposed. Sometimes it takes a little more creativity, but it can be done without turning you frumpy. No one wants to see cleavage when they are trying to worship.

Our worship leader had to set some guidelines for the women on the team, as there were some questionable choices being made from time to time… for example, no leggings without your top covering the crotch area. Cuz seriously, guys have enough trouble keeping their imaginations in check without giving them any help!

In addressing the skirt length issue, she referred us to our congregation’s beloved 80-yr-old Pastor Buck. She said, “Pretend you are standing on your kitchen table, and Pastor Buck is sitting a few feet away. Do you feel okay with what you have on?” Point taken.

Worship leader Leann Albrecht has lots more to say on this. Check out her article ‘The Fine Line of Fashion – Sensuous or Virtuous’…

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Amy Wolter

Amy has vast and varied experience in music, from keyboardist to lead singer, from songwriter to producer. She fronted a nationally touring Christian rock band that garnered some top 10 CCM hits. Playing in a variety of venues and churches gave her a real understanding of what audiences and congregations connect with. As a member of her church’s worship team, Amy understands the challenges that come with this, and enjoys helping Christian artists and Worship Teams create freedom in the room to truly express their worship.

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  1. Katie says:

    good thoughts, Amy.

    It can definitely be hard at times to resist those questionable choices from time to time. Especially if I buy a new outfit on a Friday or Saturday before I’m leading worship – I’m so anxious to wear it! And I just keep telling myself “maybe it’ll be OK.” but “maybe” isn’t OK. I want to be sure or pretty close to sure that I won’t be distracting anbody from their experience with God. And sometimes that means I sacrifice my cutest outfit for one that allows me to do my job well.

    I keep thinking too how as worship leaders, our job isn’t limited to Sunday morning church services. We’re to live our lives as worship. And that means what we wear through the week might be important too. Some women I’ve known dress mostly appropriately while leading worship, but dress scandalously the rest of the time… what kind of a message does that send? That behavior in itself distracts me from worship while they are singing. Cuz all I can think about is what they wore the week before. It’s a shame, really.
    Don’t get me wrong, I want to look sexy too! And I’ve certainly worn some little cocktail dresses and sexy heels when on a date with my husband, but that’s for him and that’s OK. It’s when women dress completely different off-stage in their everyday lives that bothers me… it’s hard for me NOT to question where their heart is at and that’s distracting to me in worship. I’m trying to get past it, but it’s hard!

    • Amy Wolter says:

      I hear ya girl! And I can’t say I’ve always made the wisest choices. (My problem isn’t dressing provacatively as much as it is just more loud or flashy which can be distracting as well :-/) As grown-up girls, we still like to play ‘dress-up’ and wear that new thing we just bought.

      You make a good point too, about how we dress on a regular day-to-day basis. A lot to ponder when we stay conscious of trying not to be a stumbling block for someone else’s worship experience!

    • Brian says:

      Why then is the “cute outfit” you bought on Friday OK to wear on Friday, Saturday, or any other day of the week except Sunday?

      Are not men (including your brothers in Christ) seeing you on the other days of the week? I’m having difficulty understanding the principal of dressing modestly during a church service in order to avoid distracting men, but that very same clothing (or lack thereof) is OK to wear during the other days of the week. Men are still able to see, and it is a very serious thing to facilitate a weakness and vulnerability that is hardwired into every single man.

      I would suggest that you rethink your idea of being “pretty close to sure” that you are not being a distraction to being “absolutely sure”. “Pretty close to sure” doesn’t seem to be how God views this subject in the Bible.

      Women, what you wear in public places and ESPECIALLY in church is critically important. God is not concerned about you “looking sexy” on Sunday nor on any other day of the week. He in fact stresses modest attire specifically to avoid triggering the vulnerability that all men face. Singing songs in church should not be any different in terms of “worship” than how we conduct our lives outside of church.

      “Looking sexy” is pure ego boost, and nothing more. The purpose is to feel good when you are aware that men who you don’t even know are looking at your body in a sexual way. The implication is deep and it’s serious. I know that in today’s society (which of course has taken over the church), “girls just wanna have fun”, and the largest part of that is showing off your body.

      Ladies, if you spent more time reading God’s word and less time watching TV, movies, and reading magazines, your hearts would be more in-line with God’s and you would not be offended by my words.

      Real talk from a man who knows what it is to have to struggle with what women place before my eyes.

  2. Brian says:

    Let me add, Amy, that I greatly appreciate and respect your taking a stand on this issue. It’s good to see a woman taking the lead on this subject. Please do not publish this comment unless you allow my previous one. It is a direct message that gets to the root of the matter and one that I think women (and men, for that matter), need to hear. I am weak, just like every one of my brothers on this earth, and I need my sisters in Christ to help us men by honoring God’s commands to them about attire.

    Again, GREAT respect for bringing up this touchy but oh-so-necessary subject. I’m sure it took guts on your part to do so.

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