Who Me? Wear a Clerical Shirt?

Clothing says a great deal about one's profession, and this is no less the case with ministers of the Gospel. The special shirt that ministers wear outside of worship services is known as a clerical shirt or collar shirt, which typically is black or another color with a white collar (sometimes affectionately referred to as a "dog collar"!).

The wearing of special ministerial clothing has a long and distinguished history, and is found throughout Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. While there have been many variations in clerical dress over the centuries, the rationale for wearing special clothing has to do with the minister's professional role and function. A collar shirt lets people recognize him or her as an ordained clergyperson.

Clerical clothes can "open doors" in many ministry settings for you, such as in hospitals where staff members wear uniforms that identify their respective professions. Visits to congregants' or parishioners' homes during times of illness, tragedy, or death can also be enhanced when you wear clothes that are a reminder of your Christian witness and purpose. And when traveling, you might have the opportunity to share your faith with strangers who strike up a conversation because you have on a collar shirt.

While clerical dress is certainly not for all ministers, take a moment to think about how occasionally wearing a black shirt with a white collar might prove to be a useful tool in your ministry. Who knows? You might just find yourself able to connect with others and spread the Gospel in new and exciting ways!

George Zgourides, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and healthcare chaplain from Texas. He and his wife Christie are the authors of several books dealing with various psychological and self-help topics. Dr. Zgourides' website can be found at http://www.lutheransonl ine.com/chaplainzgourides

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