Battling Frumpiness in the Pulpit

February 28, 2007 by

She could have called the site Church Fashion Sucks. But Beauty Tips for Ministers works, too. Victoria Weinstein, a Unitarian Universalist minister who goes by the handle PeaceBang, launched the fashion blog to encourage the “defrumpification of the American clergy.”

Weinstein makes it clear in a recent Boston Globe story that fashion isn’t the greatest concern for clergy, but it still matters:

“Anyone who is in a position of leadership has to consider what image they’re projecting, and that goes for clergy too,” she said. “The problem with frumpiness isn’t so much aesthetic as it is a problem of looking as though you are not paying attention to the world and that you are not part of today’s world … They will not be willing to hear us in the same way if we look like we walked out of 1972.”

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Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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12 Responses to “Battling Frumpiness in the Pulpit”

  • Sara
    February 28, 2007

    …and who told you that you were naked? (gen. 3:11)
    to paraphrase, of course.

  • brad andrews
    February 28, 2007

    I read the full article and I would like to put a spin on this.
    Though Weinstein’s advice is decent, especially to her target group of women ministers, her comments have implications. And I’m sure Weinstein’s aim is not to cause any overt controversy, but it raises some interesting questions…
    “Anyone who is in a position of leadership has to consider what image they’re projecting…”
    Absolutely. But the underlying statement here is “if you aren’t dressing ‘nicely,’ than you are projecting the wrong image.”
    What is the litmus test? Should there be? The only ‘test’ is context. Consider your context and dress appropriately. If you minister in an urban area with neo-hippies, you may need to dress like you stepped out of 1972.
    And what version of 1972 does she mean? Frankly, the business casual look of the 80’s & 90’s were the polyester suits of the 70’s. But I guess by frumpy, she is not talking about that version of the 70’s.
    “…the problem with frumpiness isn’t so much aesthetic as it is a problem of looking as though you are not paying attention to the world and that you are not part of today’s world.”
    Maybe if you are dressing like a white collar business person for a twenty-something crowd.
    The word ‘frumpy’ gets thrown around with the more casual look young people take. And again, in those contexts, they actually are paying attention to the world they live in.
    Isn’t dress a non-essential? And further, isn’t a mandate on what dress is appropriate for worship extra-biblical [outside of the need for modesty]?
    I see dress just like I see worship style. If the Bible does not forbid it, we have freedom to choose the best expression of it in our context as we honor the people in that context.
    There seems to be an element of elitism related to the idea of one way to dress for worship. And frankly, for those that elevate it as a matter of contention, to me, it masks a deeper problem…they think that God cares about our outer appearance and that appearance can hinder our worship of Him.
    My friends, that is not the Gospel.

  • Dan
    March 1, 2007

    Church Marketing Sucks is starting to suck. Why are you doling out advice from a Universalist? This frustrated me, but it did not educate or motivate.

  • Mark Brown
    March 1, 2007

    Can I council Church Marketing Sucks to seriously consider whether they want to promote this blog. On Unitarian Universalists, Victoria notes on her PeaceBang blog:
    “As of 1985, with the passage of the entirely non-theistic Principles, we became an officially godless religion. Although many of our members are theists or even agnostics, our public statement about ourselves fails to mention any divine reality beyond ourselves.”
    The Beauty Tips Blog also includes an interview with an Elder High Priestess and Metaphysician of the First Church of Wicca.
    Isn’t one of the fundamentals of Marketing brand association? Though church fashion is an interesting debate to have, I am not sure you have gone about it the best way.

  • Robin Edgar
    March 1, 2007

    “Anyone who is in a position of leadership has to consider what image they’re projecting, and that goes for clergy too. . .”
    Well that statement by “Christian” U*U minister Rev. Victoria Weinstein who blogs pseudonyumously as Peacebang is an excellent example of U*U foot-in-mouth disease. Rev. Victoria Weinstein, and the U*U “religious community more broadly, really would do well to consider what image of the U*U movement Rev. Weinstein is projecting on her Peacebang blog when she publicly airs her sodomy fantasy of state senator Bill Napoli “anally implaed on the Statue of Liberty’s torch, or hypocritically bashes Catholics for sexual abuse when one of her own aging parishioners is convicted of raping preteen girls. What kind of image of “Christian” U*Us or U*U clergy is Rev. Victoria Weinstein projecting when she expresses her desire to punish a petty criminal who stole some things from her church by kicking him in the teeth?

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    March 2, 2007

    Advice from a Universalist? God help us all. Nevermind the times we try to learn something from atheists or agnostics or those crazy secular marketers or (gasp) people from different religions.
    Sorry you think we suck, Dan. And sorry, Mark, that you think we shouldn’t promote this blog (maybe you missed the PETA video we “promoted”) but we have a long history (if 2+ years can be considered long) of learning marketing wisdom from wherever we can find it. Put on a filter for Weinstein’s wacky universalism and learn what you can. Same thing with any other resource we point to.

  • Dan
    March 2, 2007

    There are better sources out there on the same topic that we wouldn’t need to put a filter on. I just want to encourage you to dig a little deeper into a topic before posting. I don’t enjoy being directed to a blog that talks about atheists wearing robes in public so people will come to them with spiritual advice.

  • Mark Brown
    March 2, 2007

    G’day Kevin,
    I am totally in favor of learning marketing wisdom from where ever we can find it.
    Let me ask my question again, do you see any risk to your brand in associating with a blog such as this?

  • Kelli Standish
    March 2, 2007

    CMS Team,
    I’m amazed you posted this. Imagine what our PeaceBang friend would have said about John the Baptist, or Jesus Himself.
    There’s a fine line here between being relevant to our culture, and catering to North America’s insane obsession with appearance.
    If a minister is a full-on frump, but speaks with authority and shows authentic love (a quality rarer than a good Gucci handbag these days)I don’t care WHAT they wear. I’ll listen to them. And I’ll keep coming back for more.
    Bottom line? Clothes change. Fashions change. Character doesn’t.

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    March 5, 2007

    Mark, it’s a hyperlink, not an endorsement. Look around, we’ve linked to stuff some would probably consider worse.

  • Brett
    March 6, 2007

    Im conflicted here. I can see looking to a source like this if it has some relevance to reaching people who are lost and decieved into this kind of thinking….but to use it to address the way that pastors/leaders dress? Theres no upside that I can see that counters the downside of having a link like this on this site.

  • Sara
    March 7, 2007

    Oh, come on… I’m sure G-d loves Unitarians too. Anyway, if you wanted to get with some of the kookier religious news, why haven’t you guys jumped on the new “Jesus” yet? He has 3 Rolexes. Allegedly. He dresses snazzy. All about making a good impression.

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