The Oregonian reports…
“New Creation Church in Hillsboro recently found itself at the center of a controversy when guidelines posted on its website for people seeking to join the “worship team” were posted on Facebook.
Among the requirements for the group of churchgoers who help lead the congregation in songs during services at the non-denominational evangelical church? “No excessive weight.”
“Weight is something that many people have to deal with,” reads the instructions for would-be worship team members. “Make sure that you are taking care of your temple, exercising and eating properly.”
Ponder Anew, a blog about faith, reports that the document was posted on Facebook by “Stuff Christian Culture Likes,” where it received enough negative feedback that it was removed from the church’s website. But a PDF of the worship team guidelines has been preserved online.
Other points in the list that commenters find objectionable include:
- “A submissive attitude is very important among the worship team members. Speaking against the leadership will not be tolerated.”
- “Smoking, use of narcotics or alcohol, swearing, illicit sexual behavior and ongoing family problems are not acceptable in a music minister’s life and will not be tolerated.”
- “Bodies must be clean and use of effective deodorant is essential to positive interpersonal relationships.”
- “Remember that the way we look is of utmost importance. 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.”
In the document, the church writes, “The purpose of the NCC Worship Team is to edify and build up the body of Christ by creating an atmosphere for the anointing of God to flow.”
New Creation Church Pastor Rebecca Sundholm says that the guidelines had been on the website for a long time and she said she was “dumbfounded” by the controversy.
“What’s funny is this has nothing to do with anybody else but our church,” said Sundholm over the phone Thursday. “If anybody looked at our worship team, they would see they aren’t all skinny.”
“In fact,” she added, “the worship leader has weight issues.”
Sundholm said the worship leader wrote the guidelines years ago — the church is 28 years old — and that, “those guidelines aren’t even enforced anymore.”
Still, she said, “We have standards just like anybody would have standards in a business.”
“Don’t come to church with wet hair; if you wear make-up, put it on,” she said. “It’s not negative.”
On Facebook, some people question how Christian it is to not allow overweight people, those who don’t use deodorant, speak up or have “ongoing family problems” to be part of the team.
“Nothing but Old Spice and Weight Watchers can wash away your sins,” wrote one commenter on “Stuff Christian Culture Likes.”
“It’s like Jesus said,” wrote another, “‘don’t be fat.'”
But Sundholm thinks that these commenters don’t really understand her church, since she assumes none of them have actually attended services.
“It’s ridiculous really,” she said. “It’s just so taken out of context.”