Church and How We Approach it

Recently there has been a huge movement towards approaching and dressing for church in an extrememly casually manner. Christians come with a laid-back attitude, without a Bible and wearing the same as what they would wear for a day out in the town.

So, here's the question: Is all this change for the better? What does the Bible tell us about how we should come to church? And how do you think we should dress for and conduct ourselves in church?

We can't wait to hear from you.

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23 comments:

  1. When I go to Church, I feel that it is right to dress up a bit. Someone once said that the better you are dressed, the better you behave. I think that can be applied to Church in that you feel that you're there for a purpose - to glorify God. If you wear more casual clothes, I believe that you're more likely to take Church informally, and probably more likely to whisper to your friends, as well! I'm interested to hear what others have to say, and I'll leave you with a question! Why don't people want to dress up for Church? Does it have something to do with peer pressure (friends not dressing up for Church) or just because we can't be bothered to put on some nicer clothes?

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  2. This is a very interesting question!
    Where are these trends coming from? I would suggest that they are symptoms of a church which is becoming little more than a 'social club.' As Lizzy has said, it goes hand in hand with people taking church too informally; church no longer becomes a place of reverent worship of a holy God, but a place for people to enjoy being with one another with the 'Christian bits' as just a 'reason for being there.'

    But this begs the question:
    Is it a sin to go to church in casual clothes?
    I would say, no! There is nothing extra holy about going to church in a suit and a black tie. The issue at stake is not simply that people are coming to church casually dressed, but the underlying reasons Why they are doing so.

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  3. HI... I will do my best to explain this. If you have any questions on it, or cannot understand. Comment and I will try to better explain. :)

    I do not believe it is right to go to church as ladies in Jean Skirts, or men in jeans or shorts. I have seen so many churches that are ruined because of one person starts dressing like that.... and my pastor always says... if one person does it, they usually always bring someone down with them. Then other people start dressing like that... and pretty soon the whole church is dressing like that and they've lost all their standards and their good reputation. I will have to look for the verse for it.... but I know there is a verse for the way you should dress. I believe (and remember anything I say is just my opinion and my family and my beliefs.) that you should dress nicely for church... suits, ties, dress pants, ladies, Skirts, (I myself do not believe In wearing pants, shorts or slacks) and nice shirt, or over coat. I also agree with Lizzy, the way you dress DOES affect the way you act. Now... I think that on Sunday's you should be dressed dressed up.... On Wednesday's (if you have wednesday services) or Thursday's... We at least don't dress up as much... we still dress nice, but we wear Kakki skirts, still no blue jean. The men still wear suits, but the ladies are not as dressed up... I am sorry. I hope I am making sense. It is hard to explain. There is a verse that says ladies should not wear pants, It is Deuteronomy 22:5 "The wonman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." I don't know about anyone else, but I think that when it says, "not wear anything that pertaineth to a man" it means, pants, and shorts. (don't men wear that???) What does everyone else think. (I know I rabbit trailed a little) Okay... so I think you got the point.

    Stepheny
    p.s. I will be looking for that verse.

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  4. Dear Philip,

    I appreciate your comment on this issue son.

    As you know I generally dress casually to go to church. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is the great desire not to be off-putting to unbelievers who we are often inviting to church, and whom we are so thrilled to see when they do turn up.

    I have found it intimidating at times to walk into a church full of dark suited grim looking people and wondered what it must be like for those outside. I have often found though that those who go to such churches are likely to be the sweetest Christians to enjoy fellowship with afterwards.

    We ought to strive to give God our best at all times, and if we do decide to dress less formally, we should not dress sloppily or especially in a worldy manner which would be quite shameful.

    If we decide to be casually dressed for the sake of others, we ought not to attend church ever with casual hearts. We should go with holy awe and the expectant hope of God's blessing, especially through the ministry of the Word. We need to attend church with a strong sense of the "otherness of God". He is not like us. He is infinitely holy and glorious.

    God looks at the heart and He knows the difference between those who are casually dressed and casually hearted in religion, and those who, despite outward appearances, have their hearts set on seeking Him.

    Wearing a suit is an easy thing to do, and I do not think that those who do so need any criticism. Serving God with the whole heart is a different matter altogether. How far we all are from that.

    I am encouraged by your comments. May God richly bless you and your friends in Christ who use this site.

    Dad.

    (David Mackereth)

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  5. There's been the whole concept of the "Sunday Best" historically.
    I'd always thought when younger that it was in thankfulness to God for His blessings, that we wear the best He has provided for us when we come to church.

    Then I considered that, were I to be granted an audience with the Queen, I'd wear the best I have.

    It is true that we have a lot of liberty in approaching God as our Father, but we are coming together before Him as a Holy God for Worship.

    Could it be a barrier to those in the world? Has anyone experience of those in the world saying they saw it as a barrier?
    I can't help but wonder if a genuine welcome and a sincere smile would not overcome such barriers.
    The world attaches suits etc, to importance, or important events.

    Just a few considerations.

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  6. Timothy van den Broek20 March 2010 at 19:47

    Our dress - no less on weekdays than on the Lord's Day - is, as has already been well explained, a matter of the heart.

    Perhaps there will never be any one universal standard. There are different locations, cultures, temperatures, levels of air conditioning in the building, kinds of biting insects, incomes, number of children to get ready, views on what constitutes "dressing well" and all sorts of other delightful differences that exist in God’s delightful creation. God doesn't appear to want a church that is united through her monotonous sameness. It was he who invented difference and made them male and female. We are not even all the same colour!

    While it might be said that dressing down hints towards church as social club it might also be said that wearing a business suit hints towards church as business. And while the church is neither inherently club nor inherently business, she is inherently social. She is a people; and her people should right heartedly dress in love: love to her Lord, love to her brothers and sisters and love to her lost neighbours that she seeks to reach out to and bring in.

    On the last point, remember what was said of our Saviour by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-7: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men."

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  7. Amen and amen to Timothy's comments. Very well said and it reminded me of the variety and liberty allowed for by Scripture - praise the Lord.

    I have one question though - for Timothy or anyone else...

    Given that Scripture is concerned with people's appearance e.g. how men ought to treat facial hair (Leviticus 19:27) whether you should have a tattoo or not (Lev 19:28) the great attention to detail in how OT priests were to dress including not having untidy hair (Leviticus 21), that women are not to adorn themselves with braided hair etc etc - do you think these instructions should inform how we dress and if so how?

    Kip' Chelashaw

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  8. Kip, in answer to your question, YES! Who says that the Word of God is ever nullified?! If God says it, then surely we must obey, right? I know there are some things in the Bible that God has now made impossible for us to do (like making it impossible for us to offer physical sacrifices by removing the temple), but otherwise I ABSOLUTELY believe that if it is in God's word, it is for our instruction.

    As a little rabbit trail, what do people think about 1 Corinthians 11:5-6; should ladies wear head-coverings in church and other Christian gatherings/meetings?

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  9. Nellie,

    I entirely agree that if Scripture commands something, then we are bound to obey. What my question was getting at however was how the different things we see in Scripture concerning dress should apply to us in our different situation today.

    Let me pick one example from the list of verses I gave. In Leviticus 19:27, men are told not to cut the hair on the side of their heads or trim the edge of their beards. My question is how should this verse (and other instructions related to dress/appearance) inform our lives today? Should they be taken as absolute law to be applied without any qualification or do they need to be adapted, by us seeking to discern the principle underlying these injunctions.

    Any thoughts?

    Kip' Chelashaw

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  10. Kip, yes these directions should instruct us in how we dress. Of course, some of them are direct commands to us, such as those in Timothy, Corinthians, etc.
    Others such as those in Leviticus must be taken carefully, but are also very relevant. We must be careful to discern between instructions which relate to the Levitical laws -sacrifices, purification, etc, and those which were given as direct guidlines. Those given as moral commands should of course be obeyed; whereas those relating to the levitical law may or may not have helpful relevant principles which can be drawn.

    Nellie,
    You are right, if God says it to us, then we should obey it. But dont you think the reason that we no longer offer sacrifices is not because there is no temple, but because Jesus has offered the perfect final once for all sacrifice?
    In doing so he did away the levitical law, which was simply a type('picture')of what was to come. The book of Hebrews emphasizes this in great detail, -
    'Heb10:12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;'

    Heb7:18'there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness.'

    Blessings,
    Philip

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  11. Hi, Nellie!

    Thanks for your question regarding should Christian ladies wear head-coverings in church and other Christian gatherings/meetings. I know that some Churches do implement that practice, such as in brethren circles, and although I personally do not think it is neceassary (which I will explain why in a moment!), this is not to demean or criticise in any way the women who do!

    The reason I don't believe women should have to wear a head covering, is because later on in the chapter of 1 Corinthians 11 it says, "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." (v.15). This verse seems to suggest that the woman's long hair is her head covering. What does everyone else think? Please point me out if I'm wrong!

    At the church we attend as a family, the women don't wear head-coverings, but if we attend a certain church where the women do wear head coverings, then my Mum, sister and I will wear one so that we don't cause any contention.

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  12. Well, this discussion has certainly become interesting!!

    Going back to the original theme, I believe you were right, James, when you said that non-christians don't have a problem with dressing up for royalty/VIPs, so why should they have a problem with us Christians dressing up smartly for who we respect? God (not man) is the one we are trying to please- so let us give Him our very best! My grandfather addresses this issue in his post "Dressing down or dumbing down?", his thoughts are very wise and you can read his blog here: http://stanleyjebb.wordpress.com/2010/01/

    Anyone who knows me well will know by now that I have rather strong views on head-covering, and so I will only briefly mention some of my convictions here!

    Firstly, if we look at the passage that Rebekah mentioned, 1 Cor.11:7, "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man." If we believe that public worship is about God (and I hope you all do!), then we are not to glorify man, but GOD. So if man is the glory of God- which from that verse seems to be the case- then man must not cover God's glory (his head). But as women are the glory of MAN, then they must cover man's glory up so as not to detract from GOD'S glory. Does that make sense?

    Let me put it more simply- God's glory= man, Man's glory= woman, woman's glory= her hair (v.15). So women cover up their glory (wearing a hat) so that God's glory is where the focus is in worship.

    As to your argument, Rebekah, from v.15, that just proves my point that "if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her". We are not to put our glory before God's- and let's face it, hair is what we spend a lot of time perfecting/beautifying. If hair is a woman's crowing glory, then she must not put that before God's glory in public worship.

    Those are just a few points out of many in favor of head-covering- there are many more! If you want me to give more reasons perhaps I can write a longer comment or even email my questioner!!!

    Elspeth

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  13. Thank-you, Elspeth, for taking the time to post your comments on head covering. I really appreciated you sharing with me your thoughts in the light of scripture.

    After reading your comments, it really got me thinking, so I went on sermonaudio.com to see if I could find a good sermon on head coverings for women in the church. I found a brilliant sermon called, 'Will hair do?' which was preached by the minister Paul Dowling, and I must say, it has completely changed my viewpoint on head coverings! I really recommend this sermon, and would say that after listening to it, it should banish any doubts on whether women should wear a head covering in worship or not. Basically, Mr Dowling said that nature shows us that long hair for women is right, while for men it is not, and that long hiar is a natural covering, not THE covering for women during worship. Long hair for women should rather show us that we ought to cover our heads during worship, for if we didn't, we may as well have short hair. A really valid and strong point Mr Dowling made was this: If long hair was our covering during worship, why then does verse 6 say that women's hair should be shorn if they don't cover their heads?

    So, Elspeth, thanks again for your wise words - I will be wearing a head covering in church from now on!!!

    In His love, Rebekah

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  14. Whatever our view is on head-covering, 1 Corinthians 11 clearly shows us that how we dress for and our attitude towards church is important, it matters.

    Sunday is a special day, a day set apart to worship our Almighty God. Stanley Jebb said in his article that 'heart reverence should manifest itself outwardly'. If we dress for church in a laid-back way isn't our mind and manner likely to follow?

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  15. In the spirit of keeping comments short, may I make several?! :)

    Kip, in response to what you said, not being a boy I haven't put too much thought into this one, but I think my reaction would be that you should consider growing a beard! And then when you *do* have a beard, don't trim the corners, or something – if that's practical. :)

    You asked earlier about women not adorning their hair with braids. That IS something I've thought about and these are my conclusions: to braid your hair in one or two plaits is perfectly modest for a girl (I have a SERIOUS problem with boys and long hair, but that's a different issue!!) and that can often be more modest than having your hair lose; my Father tells me that long hair worn lose can be very attractive to men in the wrong way. Personally I think Paul was talking about the way the ancients had of making lots of little plaits and putting beads and other adornments in their hair; this was not only time consuming, but designed to draw attention to themselves in a provocative way. I see no problem with french-braids and such, but I would draw the line at spending hours braiding or arranging hair.

    As far as the other dress/appearance issues go, my family draw some hard lines about modesty. We wear skirts mostly and my father isn't keen on trousers, but when we do wear them he likes them to be looser fitting and not low-rise. Mid-rifts are definitely out and we take the view that figure hugging clothes, however much skin they cover, aren't modest. I take the view that God made me a girl and as such it isn't sinful to take pleasure in *being* a girl; so dresses and scarves, pretty clothes and nice shoes, delicate jewellery and other modest feminine apparel is good ... if I'm going somewhere special, I wear special clothes. Touching on the church issue again, if I would take care to wear nice clothes and look attractive (in a modest way, of course) to meet people, then why on earth wouldn't I do as much when I meet with God?

    Does that help at all?
    Nellie

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  16. Rebekkah, it sounds like you've had your question answered already! It's so exciting to see God speaking to you about this issue. You are likely to attract a lot of contention when you wear a head covering, so just be prepared – forewarned is forearmed. :) Stand firm, though, and know Who you serve! The Lord bless you with strength and peace as you walk this new path. Nellie

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  17. Philip,

    I'd love to enter into that debate, but am sure that this is not the place for it. I'm not chickening out from the discussion because I don't have a leg to stand on; in the past I've rushed head-long into debates about this in places like this and it can get ... acrimonious, to say the least. So maybe - if Walking Worthy ever wants to make a post about it :) - we can discuss the issue in depth then. Suffice to say for now, I don't agree with you! :)

    Blessings,
    Nellie

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  18. Very true, Becsy!

    Dressing and attending church is all about a matter of the heart - are not most matters? If we attend church with a laid-back attitude, then will that not reflect in the way we dress? If we dress casually because most people at church do and we don't want to be 'different' but feel that we have to 'fit in', then that will have an affect upon our whole attitude at church. We will not be there with our focus on Christ and how we may glorify Him, but rather how we may please ourselves and the other people around us. It saddens me when I see how many people at church these days dress like they would on any other day, and come to church without their Bibles! They see church as a social time rather than as a time to worship God and glorify Him!

    Colossians 3:23 says, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." If we do all things unto the Lord, will that not affect all areas in our lives, including the way we dress? If we go to church with the right mindset, with our focus on God and with the intent to worship and glorify Him, will we not want to give Him our best? By desiring to please God in our worship at church, we will dress to please Him, too! Let's give God our best in all things!

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  19. Timothy van den Broek23 March 2010 at 16:06

    Hey guys, Philip Mackereth's point above is key in this discussion. He is spot on to say that the reason there is some stuff we don't do is because we now have Jesus. No temple worship because who would want to worship in a temple and sacrifice animals now that Christ Jesus has been offered as our perfect sacrifice? No food restrictions, because Jesus' work is so extensive that even food has been made clean (cf Acts 10). No high priest because Jesus is our high priest (Acts 10:26 is interesting on that point). Jesus has accomplished what Israel never did manage to do. Though the gospel was supposed to go throughout the world, until Jesus it never did. Acts 10, again:

    v34 Peter says "I get it!!!!!!! Every nation, anyone!"
    A: Word sent to Israel; preaching good news of Jesus (v36)
    B: John proclaimed (v37)
    C: God anointed (chose) Jesus, with him (v38)
    D: Jesus died, rose and appeared (vv39-40)
    C': We are chosen by God (v41)
    B': We preach (v 42)
    A': Prophets (Israel) bear witness of forgiveness in Jesus to everyone who believes (v43)

    That is, while it would have been a blessing to live under the old covenant, Jesus brings greater blessing, greater freedom. He has died and he has risen. While God's dealings with mankind have always been gracious, and every time in history has been one of grace, Jesus brings more grace than was ever seen before: he is "God with us." All the bible is true and good; applicable and relevant, but as soon as we take it to be nothing more than a rulebook (even in discussions pertaining to rules) we will necessarily miss the point. The point is Jesus.

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  20. Good for you, Rebekah! That is great. What a fantasic way of being outwardly submissive to God's word. =)

    You are right, Becsy, that we should be seeking to worship God in the right attitude. A laid-back attitude to God and His church is not healthy, and is not helped by dressing in a laid-back/casual way. We are not seeking to please men, as Rebekah pointed out. We should desire to please and glorify Christ. Why should we give Him anything less than our best?

    Thanks for reading my rather long-winded comments, folks!!

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  21. Thanks everyone for the comments so far. I'm afraid I still have more questions. Whilst I completely agree that Jesus is the point of all Scripture I still feel this does not answer my precise question namely In what ways are the laws, instructions on appearance, dress etc meant to inform us today.

    Dwelling on such questions should not undermine our conviction that "Jesus is the point of all Scripture" for us spending time meditating on how His word informs our life will hopefully be an expression of Jesus' authority on all areas of our life

    Think about it this way. If Scripture says that all is written for our profit (2 Timothy 3:16-17). How do passages such as Leviticus 19:27 inform us (men) today as we seek practically to honour Christ in the area of outward appearance?

    Kip' Chelashaw

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  22. Rebekah,

    Whilst I applaud you eagerness to submit to what you feel is Scripture's teaching on the issue of head covering, I have one question to ask you - did you ask your parents what they think on the matter?

    I wonder if this is one way in which we youngsters can model the 5th commandment when making big decisions that Christians have historically disagreed on - by asking those in authority over us?

    Kip' Chelashaw

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  23. Hi, Kip!

    Yes, I did discuss the issue regarding head coverings with my parents first. The thing is, we used to go to a gospel hall a few years ago, and my Mum, sister and myself all wore head coverings as that was part of the church's practice. When we moved to the church we are now currently at, the majority of the women didn't wear head coverings, and as a family, it was an issue we were not sure about. In the end we concluded that we wouldn't wear head coverings, until I shared with my parents the sermon I listened to online the other evening. We then all came to the conclusion that it was scripturally correct to wear one, and so we will resume wearing head coverings from now on!!!

    I agree with you that it is important for us youngsters to always consult with those who are in authority over us. In all things I always refer to my parents and ask for their advice - it shows them that I love and respect them. As far as I am concerned, as long as I am under my parents' roof, until God calls me to marriage (if He does!) I will always consult with my parents and submit myself under their authority.

    Thank-you to everyone for all your comments and encouragement. God bless you all.

    In Him, Rebekah

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