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What do you think is acceptable to wear to church? This is a topic of debate that I have been asked about in the last few days and specifically addresses those that are “in ministry”. As a minister or pastor, what should we wear? Or course, the answer will depend on a number of other issues such as your view of “church”, the culture you are surrounded by and what your view of what is acceptable. For example, I work in shirt and tie (sometimes a suit). These are my work clothes. I don’t consider these my “Sunday special” as they used to be called when I was growing up. Here are some thoughts on the matter:

Grace man, Grace!

  • My relationship with the Lord is based on grace. My relationship with God is because of grace, not works. Therefore I am free to wear what I want. I don’t have to impress God because He knows me thoroughly and still accepts me. He died for me when I was a sinner. He loved me then, He loves me now.

The Family of God

  • Paul tells us time and again that we have been adopted (Eph 1) into his family. That means those that profess Christ as their Lord and Saviour are my brothers and sisters, in the Lord. Personally, I don’t “dress up” to walk around my house, roll around on the floor with my kids, or to talk a family walk in the forest. I dress comfortably.

The Church (i.e. when we meet together)

  • I think that the New Testament clearly outlines what church is to be: an conduit through which the Great Commission can take place. We are the “salt of the earth” and a “light to the world”. We are the on going saga of the book of Acts. We are to be outward focused and not inward focused. We meet as a group of people to worship God, hear from God, and minister His love. A dress code doesn’t come into that! I remember my pre-Christian days going to night clubs and bars. There always was a dress code. Why? Well because the owners were saying “this is an exclusive place”. Well the church isn’t like that! We are to welcome the poor and socially destitute.

Legalism

  • I get very concerned when people start to be overly concerned about someones appearance instead of someones heart. A few months ago I got so discouraged by people commenting about my hair that I shaved it off (and have kept it shaved since). The comments weren’t untoward, they were just comments. But they revealed the concern of the people making the comments. There was a point in Jesus ministry where he rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees (fancy that?!) for only washing the outside the tombs. He said “.. you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. (ESV Matthew 23:27)”

Jesus, the disciples and the Book of Acts

  • Did Jesus every say to his disciples “Get cleaned up boys, we’re going to the Temple”? No. Did Peter or Paul, Stephen or James ever instruct believers in the Book of Acts to wear “Sunday specials”? No. In fact, the ONLY time dress is mentioned it is by Paul in his letter to Timothy. There Paul rebukes the women for dressing up to the point where others are noticing!!! (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Any comments on this would be appreciated as I continue to work through this topic.

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4 thoughts on “What not to wear

  1. I would add that as a society, we’re prone to act how we dress. Often the way people dress can be inextricable from the way they act. Clothing (or lack thereof) is so often used as an expression of one’s feelings, emotions, and even as protest. I know we can be guilty of “dressing up” the outer person, while ignoring the inner, if we’re not careful. But, sometimes when people “dress up,” they have a tendency to act different as well. Plus, there’s the distinction that someone who is dressed in a suit, as in your case at work, is serious about their work. If you walked into work in casual clothes, or attended sales meetings, or delivered presentations in casual clothes (although some companies do), there’s still the paradigm that is associated with, and respect given to, the person dressed up. Really, what you’re looking for is a paradigm shift that is bigger than just the church. I think it’s cultural. Sorry so lengthy – Great Post BTW!

  2. our outward clothing should be dicated from our inward being. hence it seems we would want everything to be decent & in order.

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