Dealing with a team member who dresses inappropriately

Your Question:

“How do I deal with a CM team member who dresses inappropriately, and the parents have commented about it?”

The Issues:

If you don’t use team-wear clothing, you may have to deal with differences in what is “appropriate.”  Today’s generation may view “appropriate” differently, so you need to identify what is appropriate. Female team members may wear clothing that is “too revealing” (you have to identify what that is), and the male team members may look too casual.  Also consider the “culture” of your church and community. That “culture” will also determine what is “appropriate” and what is not. In order to reduce the “stickiness” of this issue, be very clear about how the CM team should look.

Scripture Foundation:

“That same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus…And as they talked and deliberated, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself…They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” Luke 24: 13-32

Short Answer:

Determining how the CM team should “look” is a tangled web of complexity.  Today’s parents will judge whether the CM team is “safe” or “good” to entrust their children by many factors.  How the team members look, how they speak, their joy, their eye-contact, and their friendliness are all things that parents “see” instantly.  Fashions change and are affected by the culture and the community surrounding the church.  If your church is more casual, then the CM team attire can be more casual.  If your church is more formal, then the CM attire should also reflect that standard. The concept of “inappropriate” can mean many things.  You and your church leadership should define “inappropriate” together.  For some churches, shorts or jeans with holes in them may be appropriate.  For some churches, tank tops and sandals may be appropriate.  You and your church leadership should define “appropriate attire” for those who are serving.  Shorts that are too short (once again, “too short” needs to be defined), or tops that reveal too much (what is “too much”?) may cross all cultural boundaries.  Once you have defined what “appropriate attire” is, make sure to clearly train your CM team about that.  If, after clearly identifying what is “inappropriate,” one of your team members wears something that fits that description, you should kindly ask that team member to wear something more “appropriate” next time.  NOTE: It is always best for a female team member to be corrected by a female CM leader, or a male team member to be corrected by a male CM leader, if possible. It may help to use the term “professional” or “business attire” when describing appropriate attire.  Remember, it is never a good idea to let some inappropriate attire “slide” and not discuss it with the team member.  Failure to correct it might be misinterpreted as affirming that it is correct.  This failure can lead to even more problems.  This is the very reason that many churches choose to adopt team-wear for their CM team.  If you don’t want the expense and stress that required team-wear can bring, you might ask your team to wear types of shirts, like “Aloha shirts,” “Henley shirts,” “Knit shirts,” “Polo shirts,” etc. If you use these general terms, your team can choose a shirt within that category that they like.  If you choose a shirt option with buttons, you have to clarify how far up to button the shirt.  It is exhausting!  You must be clear with the “look” you want for the ministry team.  For more help, click on the links below.

Click here to read more about how to deal with human nature in the “image of God.”

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