This may come as a huge shock to most of you, but I don’t consider myself a snazzy dresser.  I know I always look good, but it’s mostly genetics.  Sorry to spoil that for you.

Seriously though, I’d say about 40% of the time I end up changing clothes before I leave my house because my wife informs me that my clothes don’t match.  I know little about color schemes, and even less about fashion.  That’s what makes me the perfect person to write on this subject.

The way I see it, there are four different categories of church outfits.  Each has its own merit, but none of them are perfect.  Which one of these categories do you fall into?

1.  The hipster – Blue jeans.  T-shirt.  Sport coat.  Shiny shoes.  One of these things does not belong, but they work so well together.  Usually, the hipster also rocks some sort of think-framed glasses.  More often than not, they don’t even have a prescription.  This category is meant for a person that desperately wants to look cool, but does not want anybody to know.  (Note:  No matter how disheveled your hair looks, we know you did it on purpose.)

2.  Business casual – Just like it sounds: nice looking shirt and “good” jeans, possibly khakis but they must be accompanied by sneakers.  This look screams “I want to be wearing pajamas” and whispers “I care enough not to.”  There is a good chance that most of these folks wore the same outfit to work on casual Friday, and they really could not care less if anybody notices.  These people value comfort above appearance…obviously.

3.  The rebel – Old faded t-shirt, ripped up blue jeans, last summer’s sandals.  These people dress down just to show you that dressing up is not necessary for worship.  Unlike the hipsters, the rebels actually do have “bed head” and there is a good chance they slept in their t-shirts.  They want to pull off the “hobo” look with as little class as possible, and they hope somebody has the guts to confront them about their attire.  Rebels value their right to worship as an individual, and they take the song “Come Just As Your Are” literally.

4.  The Sunday best – Pretty simple: the nicest thing in your closet.  This is the most well known category for church attire, as its common name is derived from standard church etiquette.  Some of these people look forward to looking their best as give their all to worshiping their creator, while some of them are just too worried about being judged to wear anything else.

While I tend to alternate through categories, myself, I usually fall into "business casual" out of sheer laziness.  However, I really don’t have any problem with any of them.  I think you should dress in such a way that it does not even become an issue when you worship.  If you start thinking about your clothes during the service, then it becomes a problem.

That is why, while I am all for wearing whatever you want, I have real trouble dealing with the “Sunday best” mentality…and even the phrase itself.  I believe it gives off an elitist vibe that turns non-believers off when it comes to church.  If they believe they will be judged for any reason, especially something as silly as clothing, they are much less likely to be open to the love we have to offer.

So while I encourage everyone to dress however you want, be careful in how you discuss church attire.  If anything, aren’t we trying to send the message that what is on the surface doesn’t really matter?  Let’s be very clear about that, and we may be surprised by the number of people that feel more welcome in our worship services.

Nancy
6/19/2012 11:09:58 am

I tend to be a "Sunday best" person simply because I want to give God my best on this, His special day. Now, I know that He sees me every day, but if I were going to visit the governor, I'd dress up a little in respect for his position. Coming to church in the same clothes that I wear to pull weeds from the garden may say something about my attitude toward worship. "God, I'm here. I'm not putting much effort into it but I'm inside the building." I have worshipped in torn jeans and a t-shirt on top of a mountain before and felt very close to God, but there is something about coming into "His house" that makes me want to give Him more. It's a way of preparing myself for worship in a more formal way. I don't judge those who dress differently; this is for me.

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Caitlin
6/23/2012 02:15:58 am

I'm sad that the most important lesson in this blog is only the last paragraph. I love your humor in your blog posts, but to put more emphasis on the clothes than the message (which I gathered to be that we not put more focus on us than on God) is disheartening. In my church, we parishioners try to dress our best, though we do not judge others who are unable or unwilling to do so for whatever reason. We want to bring our best to Him because He gave His best to us, and sadly this post presents an assumption about "Sunday best" parishioners that their purpose for fine dress is self-serving.

Your statement of being careful how we discuss clothes is an important one. It is important that we don't make any feel unwelcome because of their dress. However, I am disappointed that your post did not take this same advice.

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