Fat Worship Leaders Need Not Apply

If you didn’t believe before that the church has been taken over, look no further than New Creation Church in Hillsboro, Oregon, which has made the news for their infamous Worship Team Guidelines banning obese would-be worship leaders and reported on by the Christian Post.

The Guidelines state: “We want the worship team to look the best they can! Remember that the way we look is of utmost importance…no excessive weight. 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.”

This statement embodies what is essentially wrong with the modern, seeker-sensitive church, which is modeling their entire service and methodology around secular practices designed to attract the world: “We never get a second chance to make that first impression….”

However, the ecclesia is meant to be the gathering of the believers in Christ. A time for those in the church to come together in worship and growing in the knowledge of God. A time to encourage and edify their fellow saints. The worship portion of the church service isn’t meant for unbelievers. It never was. Paul said when speaking of the union of the church with Christ, “Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19)

The very premise of seeker sensitive churches is that by emulating the world, they will draw unbelievers to the church, but this logic is faulty when compared to what scripture teaches. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. “ (Acts 2:46-47)

I understand the desire for the church to want worship leaders to dress in a manner that doesn’t draw sexual attention or look like you are performing with the Grateful Dead, but setting standards of weight is obtuse, narrow minded, and hypocritical. Best not to tell Adele or Kelly Clarkson that first impressions matter.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 14: Kelly Clarkson performs on stage at G-A-Y on February 14, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Jo Hale/Redferns via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Jo Hale/Redferns via Getty Images

Just as disturbing are the comments from other so-called Christians on the Post’s Facebook page, who self-righteously defended the guidelines. Their argument? Gluttony is a sin and, therefore, they support the policy. But singling out Christian brothers or sisters who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight is hypocritical. A thin person may camouflage his lust for porn, drug or alcohol use, adultery, hatefulness, gossip, slander, pride, etc., but hey, he looks good!

The process of sanctification is a lifelong journey that should be played out within the walls of the church among fellow believers, not in making those who struggle with weight to wear a scarlet letter of shame or withholding a ministry from a gifted believer until they put in some gym time and get to juicing.

New Creation’s leadership states that participants in its worship program must be 100% in agreement with the guidelines to allow the anointing to flow and encouraged those with a weight issue to go shed the extra pounds at the gym.

“Since you are interested in this area of ministry we want you to be encouraged and know that our desire is to see you fulfill all God has called you to do and be. As a part of the worship team, we have specific guidelines that we have established for our team to work together and to be the best we can be,” the church explained in the document. “Please read this carefully. You must be in 100% agreement for you to flow with our team and in order for the anointing to flow through you.”

Did you catch that? The anointing of the Spirit is hampered by overweight musicians and singers. If a sinless life were a prerequisite for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, not one of us would be saved let alone be used as a vessel for the Holy Spirit, who isn’t a “magical force” that we can control with our own behavior. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Most disturbing is the so-called apology issued by the church and posted on its webpage in response to the criticism: “There has been some media circulating about our Worship Team Guidelines. Forgive us if we offended anyone. That certainly was not our intention. These guidelines have never been used to discriminate against anyone and have never been enforced.”

The statement that New Creation Church didn’t enforce the policy doesn’t make any of it right. It is a reflection of their core beliefs. In fact, it sounds a like a non-apology on the order of, “I’m sorry if you are offended, but…”