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Why Church Members Criticize the Appearance of Pastors

Male and female ministers are regularly critiqued over their appearance, how they dress, their hair styles, and how they carry themselves. Women are especially scrutinized for their weight and hair styles, some reporting that their hair is more important than their theology to some. This troubling trend reveals that churches feel a sense of ownership over their pastors that even extends to how they dress and style themselves. Church members hold pastors up to impossible ideals that are demoralizing and degrading for pastors.

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Why This Story Matters to Church Leaders:

Criticism is coming if you’re in ministry, and it’s essential to know which critiques cross boundaries.

  • Have you set boundaries in ministry? Pastors can weather criticism if they work with trusted colleagues and family members at setting up proper boundaries with their congregations.
  • What is most important? The mission of the church and the content of your theology are the essentials in ministry. Intentionally create a culture that values modeling the love of Christ, sharing the Gospel, and service to others.
  • You can’t stop expectations: Pastors can’t control what people expect from them. Sometimes people will need to be disappointed or re-educated about what to expect from a pastor.

What are the expectations that you can control about your ministry?

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