Tuesday, January 26, 2010

#115-Dressing Up For Church

Editor’s Note: At the Stuff Apostolics Like blogging institute that consists of a simple blanket fort made out of a giant blanket and two kitchen chairs facing back to back some 5 feet apart, we wrestle from time to time on our purpose…..

Remembering to take a minute and laugh at ourselves is our number one goal. However, I readily admit that this goal can come across cynical and overly deconstructive in it’s ambitions. So today, in this blog I want to introduce to you a new wing of a blog topic that seeks to build on our understanding and not destroy…

It’s the slightly informative/slightly humorous/slightly obnoxious blog entry…And with this blog entry a side purpose is to educate as well as laugh.

Of course these blog types will be few and far between, but let this serve as a forewarning as to not confuse when they do arrive….. without further adieu,

The age old custom of dressing up for church isn’t so aged and isn’t so old.

First, there is no record of average congregants ever changing their attire in order to attend any sort of liturgy. Sure, old testament mosaic law required priests to wear very specific garb when entering the Holy of Holies, but it also required you to build a special roof on your house so burglars wouldn’t fall off, to wash your face before and after sex, and how to sell your daughter into slavery. Not only did Christ fulfill the law, but Paul states that if we attempt to follow part of the law, but not the whole law that we are guilty of the whole law. So picking random laws of the Mosaic Law and attempting to apply them, out of context, to todays culture doesn’t really work, capish?

Until the mid 1800’s in Europe and America, where Christianity was dominant, there was no such custom of dressing up for church. Prior to the industrial revolution and the introduction of mass-produced textiles there were typically two classes of people: rich and broke. And the broke weren’t broke like you and I are broke, they were broke-broke. They typically had very few clothes. Usually they had their laboring clothes, which were dirty and tattered, that they worked in, and another set that was still cheaply made, usually homemade, that they wore for everything else. There was no “dressing up”, they couldn’t afford it. Dressing up for social functions was reserved strictly for the wealthy aristocracy.

With the introduction of mass textile manufacturing and the industrial revolution a new class of people was born, and with this there arose a desire for class distinction. The new class, which we will call the bourgeoisie, sought to identify themselves as no longer poverty stricken, and one way of doing this was by wearing more upscale clothing.

With me class? Questions? Ok, moving on.

Around about this time religious leaders began preaching and teaching against class distinction because it created division in the congregations. People were taught that we’re all equal when coming to God, so why would we want to distinguish ourselves from one another based on wealth? Some denominations during this time went so far as to turn away anyone who wore expensive clothing because it separated the classes. (Imagine if we did this today! We wouldn’t even have preachers to preach our conventions!)

All of this changed in the late 1800’s. An essay was written called “Taste and Fashion”, in which it was argued that sophistication and refinement were attributes of God and that Christians should try to emulate them. This began giving the new middle class some (albeit bad) logic behind their desire to flaunt their new wealth. Since then the delusion that we must “look our Sunday best” when coming to church has become widespread. And it is a delusion, but we’ll leave that discussion for the ensuing comments.

Fast-forward 150 years. Culture has drastically changed back to the point that the masses, for the most part, don’t own dress clothes. This is no longer a matter of wealth, just changing societal conditions. Men no longer wear a suit, topcoat and fedora when going to a ball game.

However the debate still rages: do we need to/should we dress up for church? This hot button issue is never really taught or explained, just demanded. For most churches, in order to be on the platform one must not be wearing jeans, and must be wearing a collared shirt with a tie. One individual who e-mailed the blog remarked that a suit was required at his church to be on the platform.

Sunday I was sitting in the back of my church and a visitor walked by with the person who brought her. My stomach turned when I heard the following conversation:

“I don’t have many dress clothes, and I definitely don’t own a skirt”

“Oh, I know, when I first started coming I had to do a lot of shopping. Don’t worry we’ll get you some new clothes.”

What a tragedy, when a person feels that in order to come to a place where they can experience God’s love and hear His Word that they must first do some shopping, because there’s a dress code.


  1. I must first say that the way that visitor was handled was entirely wrong. In no way should a visitor be made to feel that they are not dressed good enough and that eventually they will "get help shopping".

    However, the reason that I wear my "Sunday Best" is because I think God is worthy of my best (not just in clothing, but in everything). Yes, I know - God doesn't care if someone has on a $500.00 suit or a $3.50 dress from the thrift store. The point is that whatever is the best FOR ME, is what I should be giving to God.

    I really don't think it has to be a class distinction thing. Most churches I know aren't bothered by the COST of the clothing. We understand where our brothers and sisters are financially.

    My point is....Give God your best in ALL areas. Don't be a snob if you can afford better clothes. Love the visitor who wears whatever they want to church.

    We can all be happy......:)

  2. First, to the anon above....

    I really admire your decision to not allow your personal convictions to become dogma for everyone else...Before I get to anything else, THANK YOU!


    the reason my personal conviction would defer from yours....

    Is that I believe Jesus and Paul show their light through their humility and weakness. You never see them drawing attention to themselves through a proper manner of dress. While I do agree that we should give God our best in all areas, I do not think dressing formally on Sunday is acceptable grounds for Giving God your best simply because the principles of the New Testament revelation of the cross never mention dress as a worthy measuring stick for giving God our all. I Peter 3 instructs women to be adorned on the inside before they worry about what their outside looks like...

    To me, giving your all in how you dress would be dressing in something very modest (in terms of price) and sufficient. This is not about me looking Good, it's about reflecting the humility of the gospel.

    In honest, I really wish ties were not normative in churches....they to me can distract from the simplicity of the gospel as they too serve no function but show and dress...

    I hope that makes sense. I agree with your principle ultimately anonymous, I just disagree with how that principle is utilized.

  3. Joel's comment hit it right on the mark.

    All too often I've heard that outlandish and 'costly array' (ie: clothing & accessories) is justifiable by the argument mentioned by Louise, that we are just giving our best to God. It kind of makes my stomach turn to hear that. Really?! God cares about the ruffles on your knee length skirt and the gallon of hair spray used on your hairdo? The bible blatantly says God looks on the inward and MAN looks on the outward. That should be a pretty big indicator that as Christians we should dress humbly and modestly. End of story.

    Frankly, if we were giving our whole-hearted, genuine and humble "best", we'd take the $399.99 spent on that brand spankin' new Burberry hand bag, and put it towards missions, general offering or charity.

    But in the end, men and women will justify their actions with whatever argument they can muster up.

  4. But church has traditionally been a place where people dress their best. People's attitudes are reflected in their clothing, and care and attention need to be taken with regards to looking your best. Many people in the district I am from are not flashy but are still fashionable. There is not a lot of expensive designer wear, but people still take time to dress up. The moment we stop caring about our appearance, is the moment our attitude becomes sloppy. Think about it: next time you feel like having a lazy day, what are you wearing? And when you are having a fantastic day what are you wearing? Your clothing reflects your attitude, and that goes for everyone, including those who feel the need to spend their money on designer clothing.

  5. It appears I need to clarify something to Rachel R. I really am not promoting costly array. In fact, I am adamantly against being a slave to the fashion of this world. For the sake for harmony, however, I was not "dissing" those who spent a lot of money on their clothes.

    My main point was as I said: We should look our very best in church. That in no way means COSTLY ARRAY. In that I remain steadfast in my opinion.

  6. This has less to do with this particular blog than your site. I just read it because of a post on facebook. I think that it is in many ways funny and true. The fact is that many Apos will find it unbearable and proclaim you have defamed the Gospel. I don't know whether you are former Apos or current ones. Either way you point out some funny stuff that, were Apos open minded in general, church goers could take to heart and find ways to correct some of the silliness that often drives newcomers away.

    As far as this post goes, I agree that it is silly to be looked down upon for not wearing nice clothes, but the fact of the matter is from a non-biased standpoint that the majority of cultures nowadays likens being a straight laced professional person with wearing nice looking clothes. That is a cultural symptom that manifests itself in many churches. People being naturally judgemental as they are, can sometimes not get around seeing someone who doesn't fit in.

    All levels of society do the same. Business especially. And church in general is a business. It is supposed to be a business of saving souls, however, it can be a sort of show in less spiritual circles. The funny part that I like you pointing out is those same folks who judge are the ones that think they are on the right side of the law. That they have a right to "fix" people.

    All the junk I have said so far being said, there is a growing culture of relaxed worship. Overall though, most churches have set on a course of professional dress and in most societies, this means nicer clothing. I wouldn't call it "Apo". I would blame it on culture.

    Overall funny blog. It is always fine to poke at religions as God is not religious; he is spiritual. There will always be shortcomings as we are human and make mistakes. If you are an Apo still, I would say be careful with what you say to not make a mockery of the faith in general. You don't want to turn folks away from an experience that may benefit them greatly. If you no longer associate with Apos, then I am sure my words don't matter to you in the first place haha.

  7. Thanks for the clarification Louise :)

    Lynne, I don't think any one has advocated "sloppiness" or being "unkempt". Just not dressing so over the top that any sinner who may walk into church feels embarrassed or out-of-place.

  8. I love how you guys don't want to follow the standards so you are trying to justify not doing it. That's hilarious. Yes God does want your best in every way, your dress, your worship everything. How you look does matter bc that's what man sees on the outside. THey can't look at your heart. You do need to be holy in your appearance. BUT apparantly you are not giving your best in any area...so why would clothing matter to you? Do you honestly think giving your best means costly array? That is silly, what are you in kindergarten? If you're so worried about visitors feeling out of place,then why dont you do something else about it...bc i'm sure it has nmore to do with dress.I'm sure you just care more about your dress and want to dress down so you're acting like you care about the visiotrs. lol really sad

  9. While having read all the replies and having my thoughts on all of them I'd like to respond, but more so in general, as I don't have the time, or attention span to do point by point replies.

    What I want to say is this:
    Every argument in favor of dressing up for church is usually semantics. They usually wind up in circular arguments that I wish not to get into, so I'll just state some opinions/observations, which can be taken or left, hopefully with no one taking anything as an attack or confrontational.

    The church building is not the church. It is not the house of God, it is not sacred, it is not holy. It is brick and mortar and will burn and there is nothing holy about it. The "church" as described in the epistles, is us as people, individually and collectively. The "early church" did not go to church, they were a collective body of believers. The word church comes from ekklesia, and if you were to use such a word during the new testament times in reference to a place you would be looked at as crazy. It would be like saying "I'm going to mom" but meaning mom as a building and not a person.

    That said, you aren't going before God, as if to say you weren't before him before entering the doors, when you walk into a church. So to say "I dress up to present my best when going before God" is a cliche because you are always supposed to be walking in the presence of God, praying without ceasing. You're not entering anything other than a building when you walk into a church.

    Secondly, dressing up, in terms of suits and ties and dresses, mostly occurs on Sunday. During our mid-week, youth services and prayer meetings most of us come dressed down in comparison to how we dress on Sunday.

    By our logic "I dress my best when coming before God", we should dress the same every time we enter the building which we claim to be sacred, as there is no difference from Sunday to Wednesday or whatever your meeting time is.

    So in my opinion the logic falls apart in these two area's.
    We do not dress in our best every waking moment of every day, when we are always equally in the presence of God, and we don't even dress up every time we enter the church building, sacred or not.

    We've esteemed Sunday above every other day for some reason. By our logic, as stated, that we should dress our best when coming before God, we only come before Him on Sunday morning/afternoon, and not again until the following Sunday.

    Lastly, to the last poster:
    I had a lot typed up to say to you but in the interest of preserving Joel's intention for the blog I deleted it. I'll just say this: your assessment of me is 100% inaccurate, your post contained no references to so much as a sourced biblical principle, and your logic is terribly flawed. However I will not debate you. All I will say is God bless and we disagree. Thanks.

  10. Glen:Your last sentence was by far the wisest thing you have said on this entire blog. Face it: you represent a group of Apostolics who are in danger of causing the entire movement to move towards being like any other church. No, it is not about religion, it is about what you represent. I, for one am not for what you represent. Are you even Apostolic? Or, as Kevin asked and was not answered, are you a disgruntled backslider who takes on the name Apostolic in order to give yourself more credibility and favour from Apostolic people? I AM Apostolic, have been my entire life. This blog does not, at all, represent anything I have been taught; the things made fun of are things that have been twisted and warped by a lazy generation who does not know the meaning of prayer and sacrifice.
    I believe in many things, and preserving who Apostolics are as a people separated and set apart (as the Bible says we should be) by God as His children, whose primary goal is to reach the world without compromising under the guise of not being offensive.

  11. Lynne,
    I was born and raised in a UPC church. I attend a UPC church. I have always been apostolic. I have not taken on any label to give myself credibility and I am not "backslidden".
    If this blog doesn't represent anything that you've experienced by being apostolic then I envy you, and I'm not being sarcastic, I really really do. However this blog represents very much of what I have experienced in my 25 years of belonging to this movement. Perhaps we have different perspectives, but I would appreciate if you didn't degrade me, my affiliation with this movement, or anything else that you don't know about me.
    I apologize that we have different opinions and for some reason this offends you, but don't presume to make any personal assessments about me or my "religion".
    This blog is a tongue in cheek satirical entertainment purposed light hearted discussion of the lighter side of being apostolic. If you take it as a personal attack or a derogatory slam on your affiliations then the best thing would be for you to not visit it. But don't continue to visit, knowing you won't like what you read and then make personal attacks on the authors.
    God bless.

  12. I'd like to thank the people who are writing this blog who remind me with each post that there are still intelligent people associated with the apostolic pentecostal movement open to what God is really about (love) and who are able to poke fun at all the other little details.

    you're humor and ability to be kind and open to new ideas and hearing others opinions shows me that you have God in mind when you're choosing your words.

    This obviously isn't true for many who get their kicks out of getting on the vast anonymous haven of the internet with the spirit of tearing down their brother, but I just remind myself that not everyone associated with the Pentecostal movement is hateful and ready to condemn.

    God bless you all, and keep the great posts coming.

  13. Anon: you seem to have found haven in anonynmouty. And judging Apostolics by what they laugh and and find funny with regards to their own perception of being Apostolic is wrong. Sorry, but this blog has the name "Stuff Apostolics Like." However, a good portion of what I have read on it, and the spirit behind the posts are not something that encourages not only unity, but being conservative, and living holy. I would not have taken this entire blog from the perspective of someone who is happy with being Apostolic. I would have taken it from someone with a mocking spirit. Many lines have been crossed. Humor is one thing; mocking is another. And there are many Godly Apostolic people out there who do believe the same as I do: preserve what has been taught from the Word of God.

  14. !This will be rather lengthy!

    To the Anonymous post at 8:21 PM on Jan. 26, 2010....

    First off sir or madam I would like to point out that I believe online arguments are a waste of time and I have no desire to engage you in a debate over this silly topic. I am only giving my opinion on what you have shown to be yours. I will also say that I enjoy this blog because it brings me relief in the manner that I realize how we have turned church and a time in which we should all be able to come together and worhip God in unity as a body, into a society all its own. We have created social classes and division among ourselves based upon outward appearance and action (action, which I believe can also be classified as outward appearance)

    Now, as a opinion to your post above...

    What man thinks of me should not matter. In 1st Sam. 16:6-7 when Samuel was picking one of Jesse's sons to be anointed king, the bible says "That he looked on Eliab, and said, surely the Lords anointed is before him". Now
    God refuted this by telling Samuel not to look on the height or stature. Man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart.

    Samuel was all hopped up and ready to anoint this fellah because he believed from what he saw that this was the man God wanted as his king. Now I understand this was an OT (Old Testament) example so let me give you one from the NT just to keep people from questioning me!

    Matt. 23:27-28 Jesus again shows us the flaws of the scribes and pharisees. 27-"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchre, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." 28-"Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." Now Jesus said that they appeared both beautiful and righteous unto men. Obviously what man sees should make no difference because he judges without true knowledge as to the ways of our hearts.

    to finalize my point I will use a topic that is my favorite...LOVE!

    1st John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." People rarely end this verse and only quote "Perfect love casteth out all fear". Now I looked up the word torment as according to strongs concordance and the usage in this passage. Torment means "punishment, torment, penal infliction" How would one cast punishment or penal infliction upon one without first judging I ask you? Now the second greatest commanment is to love one another correct? Of course! So if we love one another and perfect love casteth out fear which hath torment (punishment, torment, penal infliction)........YOU GOT IT!!!!!!!!

    We cannot judge on the outward because we don't know the positioning of thier heart. Second, we are supposed to love them anyways and love casteth out fear etc....you get the point.

    (Feel free to correct me on any points in which I am wrong, I have not written this to prove someone wrong but rather to prove what I believe is right. I, therefore, welcome any criticism or correction as it will help we with my relationship and walk with Christ)

  15. SOOOOOOOOO I am not even about to read ALL the above comments BUT I just wanna say that I LOVE dressing up!!! LOL Dressing up for church is really a cultural thing...I've got more I wanna say, but I am to tired...SORRRRy...I know everyone is just dying for my opinion but maybe tomorrow!!! :)

  16. To the last anonymous poster: thanks, I appreciate your comment.

    I would like to reiterate the About This Blog section that you can view to your right. This blog is not intended to offend, it is mostly for entertainment. We recognize that not all readers share the same experience/background/upbringing within the movement.
    Not al posts are expected to resonate with all readers.
    If something doesn't set well with you please do not take offense. We all have different views, different experiences and different perspectives on the topics discussed.

    The bottom line is that this blog is a somewhat humorous call to introspection with hopes that we will ask ourselves why we are the way we are, and hopefully be able to laugh at ourselves, or at least grin a bit.

    If you're offended at something you read then you may not have picked up on the authors wit, sarcasm or satirical style, because no post will ever be meant to offend anyone.

    Thanks to our loyal readers!

  17. Aside…

    Dear anonymous,
    I quite often write in a notebook dedicated to my thoughts of different topics. I would now like to take a quote from that notebook that concerns the topic of masses in religion, pop culture, and society as a whole.

    "Give them a mile by which to walk and when they are done they will ask another, for they have no direction amongst themselves. Therefore they are content to do the bidding of another without question as it gives them a purpose"

    We must be careful sir, that the life we live is one that we know and understand. In the NT God came to fulfill the law. Our way to get to heaven is not by following rules but by a relationship with Him. I believe the largest problem in Christianity today is that people don't have a relationship with Christ and therefore they try to synthesize that relationship with rules and regulations. They are content to follow what somebody else tells them so that they don't have to study or figure it out for themselves. Many are content to follow the rules of this Apostolic society because they don't know what the bible truly says for they have not put the time into it. They therefore become agitated when one such the author of this blog brings forth ideas from his study and personal relationship with Christ for it might prove what they have been told to believe might be a fallacy. I end by asking that next time you comment please do not attack the author. They are only giving there viewpoint as they have studied and understand it to be. Please be so kind as to just say what you believe so that we can discuss amongst ourselves without building animosity or bitterness which intern breeds sin. I feel as though I must use internet speech to lighten the mood so I will end this…LOL

    ...This was again meant to speak toward Lynne. I apologize for how I addressed my previous really long post. I should have used your name and not Anonymous post at 8:21 pm since this was wrong and people would not know whom I was addressing...my computer clock is off. The reason I focused mainly upon mans judgment or approval of another was because you had said "How you look does matter bc that's what man sees on the outside"

    I hereby use my middle name...


  18. Joseph,
    The thing that concerns me as an Apostolic young person is the way people seem to feel that there is no need for guidelines. I do understand the principles behind each and every thing I believe in. And there is a strong need for guidelines. Think about it. The Bible tells us to be separate from the world. Human nature is to go with the flow of things; not against; to take the easy route. I do not understand how an Apostolic can say that about "mindlessly" following rules. I do not intend to be rude, but I honestly do not get it: my Pastor has always taught and given the reasoning behind the standards he has set for our church. And there has never been a focus of standards over personal prayer; over developing a relationship with God. All that said, I come from a very conservative church, but a very prayer-focused church. Every guideline, or rule, has a reason. And it IS important to study it out for yourself; I have. The matter of dressing up for church is a matter of respect. I have brought around 30 people to church, and never have I said anything to them about their clothing. Many felt comfortable enough to wear everyday clothing. That is fine. However, the longer people come, the more they want to dress up out of respect for the house of God. Yes, God looks at the heart. But we are still making a statement to other people when we dress the way we do. I always wear a skirt. I have had hundreds of questions why, and it inevitably results in a discussion about God. If I were to go about wearing very little clothing what statement would that make?
    I hope this makes sense

  19. They want to dress up out of respect or they want to dress up because everyone else is dressing up and they feel that in order to regularly attend as a member they have to conform to the cultural norms of the congregation?

    I don't believe that if everyone were "business casual", that is in chino's, golf shirts and maybe a jacket that those same people would feel some holy tugging on their heart to don a suit and tie.

    We too often mistake conforming to social norms as holy conviction. People simply feel uncomfortable when they don't fit in. That's classic conformity in any arena..

  20. As a student at a UPCI-endorsed Bible college, I do not find this blog to be mocking anything except human behavior. I don't believe any lines have been crossed. I don't even think there's been a serious theological post yet (and there shouldn't be - that's not the goal of this blog). [Correct me if I'm wrong!]

    I find the writers to be polite, non-argumentative, and best of all, intellectually honest in their approach to the topics as well as the periodic commenter with whom they have apparently struck a nerve.

    Finally, as a teacher/preacher, I really wish I could get away with wearing more comfortable clothes at the churches I go to. Not because I'm a lazy individual, but because I too see no reason for it. It's a fact that a lot of people like to "dress up" for various reasons - and it's a fact that I do not. It is also a fact that if I decided to throw out all my suits and ties, then a lot of people might think I'd ended my relationship with God and given up on ministering. And that's a shame.

    For us to be able to snap our fingers and the whole "dress-up-for-church social structure" that's in place (for which no one seems to have a solid biblical reason that can stand up to honest criticism) to disappear would be nice. But that's not going to happen. So... I guess I'll be wearing my suit/tie/dress shoes this weekend.

    And Glen - I believe your statement about confusing social norms and holy conviction is correct.


  21. Lynne

    I agree that we must be seperat. Romans 12:2 states "Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds". I don't wish to start talking about holiness standards as this blog was based upon dress in our services, however, our seperation must stem from a changing in our mind. This, I believe, is what seperates us from this world.


  22. Glen:
    Many people, in fact still do enjoy dressing up for church; visitor or otherwise. Regardless of the "social norms". Girls ask if they "have to" wear a skirt. My answer is always no; wear what you feel comfortable in. Does that mean we should wear pants in church as well because it will make people feel more comfortable? Unless you do not believe in the separation of genders. (Not meant to be taken in a mocking way, but I do not know). The point is there are many things we could do to make people feel more comfortable. However, we should not. Because conviction is not comfortable. Truth is not comfortable. Our worship is not comfortable for people who have never been involved. Hearing people travail in prayer is not comfortable. Does this mean we should stop preaching truth, or water it down? Does it mean we tone down our worship? Does it mean we stop travailing for sinners during prayer because there might be a visitor there that does not understand? Wearing dress clothes may not be comfortable, but it is still saying I respect church, I respect God, and am willing to look my best for it. Why would you dress up for a funeral or a wedding, for that matter? Caring about your appearance is a sign of respect in yourself and for others.

  23. Quickly before I go study....

    I just read all these comments for the first time tonight (save the very first one)....

    Firstly, Lynne....standards are not at play in this blog nor in any other blog. It's literally the first and really only rule I ask the other bloggers to submit to...

    Secondly, there are a few people on here who have been very very encouraging on this blog. And very supportive to the bloggers. Thank you...seriously, you guys get it. And for every person who "gets it" and understands the purpose of the blog, it makes it that much easier to write another and another after.

    You got me feeling all warm and gushy on the inside (but how do i let that show on the outside without being too flashy?!?).

  24. Lynne,
    We're never going to agree. Can we agree to disagree, in love? I'd hate for this to turn into an endless back and forth banter..
    I'm of the school of thought that dressing up for church detracts from the message of grace and the cross and you're of the school of thought that dressing up is a sign of respect for God. Those two views can't really be turned very easy..
    It's best for both of us just to hang it up.
    Again, sorry if I offended.

  25. This blog is great, keep it up.

    And for those who think it's disrespectful and out-of-line, why do you keep coming back? Out of self-righteousness?

    Just stop reading it if it bothers you.

  26. Wow, this has turned into a real debate. After reading all of the comments through, I have had to rethink how I represented my view previously. I think part of what has turned me off of the "casual attire" thing is that I have a hard time separating it from sloppy, unhygenic practices which, unfortunately in my experience, usually come hand in hand with "casual". If people were to dress at the very least a "smart" casual, I wouldn't have so much of a problem. Casual to me is a wrinkled jean skirt (ironing does not seem to be IN these days) on ladies with hair very unkempt. If this IS the definition of casual, then I am still very much against it in church. However, one of the comments above (I think it was Glen) asked whether one dressed up as well on other service nights besides Sunday and I realized that I do not. I am much MORE casual (but not sloppy) on other service nights. This gives me much food for thought......

    Also to Rachel R: does that mean you don't spend money on expensive fashion of this world (even on sale) to wear on non-church days? Do you dress modestly and humbly at ALL times? I am curious, because snobbery dressing in the house of God was brought up, but I think it is just as relevant not to be a SNOB outside of the house of God by the way we dress after the fashions of this world.

    And finally Glen: I understand why you have to stop your argument with Lynne. Someone has to stop it somewhere. However, I am curious as to how you do address the point she made as to worrying about the comfort of visitors (which I think was valid). There will always be something visitors will be uncomfortable about if God is dealing with them and I can honestly say in many years of serving God that I have never had one visitor say to me they felt uncomfortable about how "they dressed" in our church. Their discomfort came from other areas that were expressed in her point.

    Interesting discussion....

  27. Glen,
    Kudos for your thoughtful posts.

    I do wish this whole dressing up for church thing would go away.


  28. Glen: well said. All of your points were right on.

    The ugly attitudes that log on here to "set everyone straight," with little intention of discussing the issues (but rather throwing out personal insults and forming conclusions with name-calling) are very childish and they speak for themselves. Irony, I suppose.

    We have made an idol of culture. We are at a crossroads of another culture change. The days of dress clothes at church being the fad is changing. With dress clothes more representing wall street and the business class, more people are opting to come presentable, but with more casual attire. This is why the issue is controversial -- it's CHANGE! So, instead of seeing it for what it is, the usual rhetoric comes. "People will be sloppy. Casual about Jesus", etc.

    I wonder what gathering Jesus would come visit today? I wonder what he'd wear? You know, our Servant Messiah... Doesn't it ever feel weird to talk with the poor lady at the altar, wearing a three-piece suit with brand-new $800 shoes? Surely it does. Though not everyone engages in "costly" attire, it is most certainly the fad in Pentecost. If you deny that, you aren't in attendance at most of the conferences.

    There is nothing wrong with dressing up, just as there is nothing wrong with dressing down. However, with a pulse of the culture, and the points made above, I think it's a good idea to consider CHANGE. If your clothes affect your devotion to GOD, perhaps it's time to address that shallowness.

    In the NT churches, Paul was very concerned with the "one up," show-off-your-wealth issue. Particularly in the churches in Corinth (where the elite classes showed off their wealth in their hair), but also we find this in his letters to Timothy, and in Peter's writings.

    Understanding this as anything more than cultural is just not understanding at all.

    (When getting ready, ask your fashion divas if they are trying to impress GOD, which is somewhat humorous, or if they are trying to impress other girls or guys -- keep it in perspective)

  29. Louise it's funny that you need me to clarify my personal attire in order to validate your opinions.

    For the record, I do not dress outside of my budget, immodestly or inappropriately. So to break it down for you... Yes I make every honest attempt to dress Humbly, Modestly & Appropriately REGARDLESS of where I am or what I'm doing.

  30. To begin I apologize for the offending of any individual, When I asked Joel to do a post concerning this subject I told him that I had contempt for the rule of wearing a suit (Joel and Glenn in turn made it into a greater conversation piece instead of just mocking it for my fleshly desires). I myself wear comfortable clothing to service (i.e. khakis and sweater with a tie) which I believe are perfectly fine for a service in which we come together to worship the Lord. The reason I was upset though was because I am already a musician on the platform. The moment I was asked to sit on the platform though I was told to wear a suit. Why does this matter?

    After reading the comments on this blog and posting my own I have begun to wonder about the whole idea of dressing up for church. Can anyone say that they have not worn something to church and then been concerned of the abuse the clothing might fall under if they resort to praise and worship? The suits, dresses, shoes, hairdo's, and other items which we adorn on the outward could also hinder us from giving to God in a service.

    As previously stated we are always before God so should I put on a suit whenever I pray in my room or as soon as I wake up? Why does the presence of another human or the position I am in have to make an impact upon my apparel in a service? I honestly find this shallow and full of human emotion.

  31. Joseph, in answer to your first question, please see my post "The Platform":


    Carry on!

  32. Hmm, Rachel. Not sure why you seem ticked as I was trying to make a point not unkindly....as you seem to do. Whatever...

  33. Chantell I have both read and agree with that post. My dilemma though lies in the fact that I have playing an instrument on the platform several years. During this time I was allowed to wear whatever I wished. The problem though is that recently I was asked to sit on the platform thus enacting "The Law of the Suit". So to play on the platform I can wear Khakis but to sit on the platform the standard is a suit.

  34. Not ticked at all, Louise. I just get to the point without a lot of fluff. :) I suppose there is a disadvantage of typing out discussion versus face-to-face speaking... facial expressions and vocal tones can't be evaluated.

    Enjoyed the discussion overall. God bless :)

  35. I got from the post that our phenomenon of dressing up for church is called Age-Old and treated like it has always been the norm, yet it has not. Fact. Here is some food for thought:

    We are living in a relatively short time following the 1900's revival of Glossolalia. It has brought this whole idea of Apostolic to a new front. Let's look back on one of the first Christian churches that has two thousand years of history, Ethiopia. It is the oldest group of worshippers of Jesus Christ and has been held to same standards all throughout the history of their church.

    It is liturgical in some ways like the Catholic church. Yet in their culture, it is frowned upon to dress up for church because dressing up is a sign that a person does not have the humility to come before God solely and not for others as a show (I refer to my native Amhara language instructor Dr. tesfaye Demallesh who told me this fact).

    Many Apos of today like to call themselves apostolic and act as if they are the world's first iteration of apostolic believers. Jesus was the Great Prophet, yet he did not wear the nicest clothes he could to minister. In fact, he went to the desolate and hopeless to bring a new Gospel (good news, not a feeling of judgement) to the people that other religious folks would not accept.

    The moment that your desire to wear your nice clothes detracts from another person's ability to gain something from God, you are further from God's will than anyone who jests about man-made traditions.

    You can think whatever you want about dressing up, or being slovenly by wearing sweat pants. Unfortunately for Americans who think their culture is always right, everyone does not look to us for inspiration and guidance. To make silly remarks about someone being unsaved because they point out the spectacle of fashion which infiltrates some churches to is plain ignorant. As ignorant as walking up to someone and telling them what they have to do to be saved as a way to frighten them into getting the Holy Ghost.

    Jesus wore the same clothes as everyone else, and I am sure he had a greater effect on the world than any one of our ministers. The sole reason that suits are required nowadays is that we want to look professional. That could easily be a downfall. And besides all of that, why be so combative? It seems that some folks when challenged would rather just lash out than sit and think about what they are reading. If you don't have time to sit and think about someone else's ideas, how do you have the time to post ignorant and distasteful ideas?

    Finally, a new person, should they feel uncomfortable, should feel that way because of God, not because of the way anyone at a church dresses and looks at them.

  36. I think that in life "balance" is required in most things. IF a person looks down upon a visitor for not "looking" the part-----UHHHH....that should be a given. We should be modest with our clothing. Modesty isn't only a matter of what is showing/what is not; rather it also has to do with a vanity/flashiness issue. As people we make judgements based upon the outward- correct or incorrect it happens. I think if our desire is to be Christ like we need to be an example with what we wear. This does not mean we need to look like we spent hours upon hours anticipating a fashion show when we go to the house of the Lord. However, it does mean that we need to look nice and dress our best. My best vs. your best may be entirely different. Just as our outward man needs to be prepared to go to church so does our inward man. If a person is depressed I do not become depressed so that person will feel more comfortable around me. Perhaps the previously typed was a bad analogy but catch my point...If a person is dressed in jeans and comes to church is that person wrong/bad- uh, no! It in no way means that they are a lesser being. If I go clubbing and am dressed in my usual garb perhaps I will feel like an outsider- because I am! Dress the part. Christians should NEVER look down upon a person because of their apparel. I don't think that is being debated. I think it is silly if a person is only concerned about their outward man but fail to beautify the inner man. Maybe if a person worked on their "inside" the outward would reflect that? On my wedding day I want my husband to look at me adoringly and think that I am the definition of beauty. I am going to dress the part. Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. I think relationship and attitude should be the focus rather then what the person is wearing. Having said that I don't think that people should dress like bums if they aren't one to come to church. God knows what your best is so exemplify it in your body and spirit.

  37. I actually agree with you Kevin. When we look at the age old question "What would Jesus do?", I actually think our churches look quite....(gulp).....hopeless. Jesus embodies humility, LOVE, mercy, grace. For the most part we are pretty far behind in those areas, I think...

    Because we are to live "soberly, righteously, and Godly in THIS present world..." we have to decide what is right and fitting and Christ-like in OUR day. We have to ask ourselves constantly, "What would Jesus do if He were living in our day?"

    None of us know all of these answers. Sometimes discussions like this can make us reflect more. It's certainly given me pause to do so.

  38. Jesus did not wear nice clothes. But being of simple means he wore the best that he had.

  39. The nature of God is not love. It is holiness.

  40. Anonymous said, "Jesus did not wear nice clothes. But being of simple means he wore the best that he had."


    that may be my favorite extrabiblical revelation I have seen on this site...

    But then it got better 13 minutes later:

    " The nature of God is not love. It is holiness.."

    This is groundbreaking: I John 4:8? Let's erase that verse out of the bible. God is not love. He's just holiness at his core...the love is just a characteristic of that Holy Being?

    Oh this is a Apostolic hermeneutic waiting to happen.

    If people are looking for "new revelation" or "emergent" groundbreaking theology....Come one and come all to the SAL comment section where not only you will find out how Jesus dressed (complete with no scriptural reference), but also find out God's nature is not love!

    Oh come all ye weary and heavy laden, for you will find a God who only loves you so you can transform to be holy!
    And guys don't get me wrong....

    It's not that I do not think God is holy or that holiness is essential. For God is holy and we are to be separate.

    But to talk of God's nature not consisting of love is such a grotesque idea to fathom....

  41. What's really gripping me in all these comments are the blanket statements about Jesus with no biblical backing.
    Statements such as "Jesus wore the best he had".. Where is the bible for this? Is it assumed because we have a preconceived idea of what we'd like to think Jesus looked like?
    I think it was CS Lewis who said we not longer worship God as the real God, rather we have made Gods out of our own perceptions and those are the things we now worship. Like in the African American churches who argue that Jesus was black. It's completely implausible but people will always set out to prove that their perceptions are representative of how Jesus really was because Jesus was quite the unconventional fellow.
    An example of how he felt regarding priests who dressed in certain garb for the temple is in Matthew 23:5 (The Message)

    Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.

    Here it is in NLT:

    “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels."

    This entire passage blasts the Pharisees for wanting to be seen.
    But the Pharisee's said they dressed this way out of respect!

    I'm not going off into that..

    The entire life of Jesus was humble. He was born in a barn, he worked as a lowly laborer, socialized with the lowest members of society and he died the death of a criminal. But somewhere in there he was somehow concerned with wearing 'the best he had'?

    I wonder what we would say to Jon The Baptist if he came to preach at our churches.
    He was unkempt, wearing old camel skin, eating bugs and smelling awful.
    "Jon could you go shower, shave and throw on a suit for us? Thanks big guy."
    I'm sure he'd understand.. No, he would probably call us a brood of vipers and preach to someone who would listen.

  42. I have a question:

    If you think that we need to dress like others to ensure that there comfort will be felt at church, should I assume that females needn't wear skirts or womanly apparel? We want to make sure that all feel comfortable, right?

  43. Do a little research Mr. Smarty Pants:

    The nature of God is not love. It is holiness.

    For you shall find that God's true nature is holiness.

  44. Logic:

    We know God is love (I john 4:8).

    Logic would tell us then that God cannot be God if He is separated from love.

    To speak of God as having a nature outside of love would be to speak of a non-existent God (for God is love). Therefore to discuss God by his very nature, you must include love.

    Let's say I am a Green Brontosaurus:

    Joel Riley is a green brontosaurus.

    Without the green brontosaurus, then I would no longer be joel Riley, for within that identity of Joel Riley, is a green brontosaurus.

    There are some holes in my argument (admittedly)...for what if my nature transforms?

    But when you talk about God as unchangeable and immutable, and the same yesterday, today, and forever, then if God is love then he always in his very nature was love.

    I hope that clarifies....


    (Mr.) Smarty Pants

  45. Isn't it possible to be humble and concious of the amount we spend on clothing and still look nice? It really is quite a simple thought.

    Definition of "humble" (taken from dictionary.com):

    not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful

    I completely can see the point you are trying to make and agree with you partially but please see my point that being humble does not imply dressing like everyone else.

  46. Sorry for calling you "Mr. Smarty Pants"...
    Of course God is love!?

    Although, his true nature is holiness.

    I can explain later.

  47. This is going in directions not intended by the original poster. That being said, where in the Bible does it say to wear a skirt in the first place? And please for the love do not try to say in our society culturally women wear them typically because that is false. I am not even going to argue that point.

    We want to make sure that new people feel comfortable. Nobody cares about your comfort level. Jesus did not live a comfortable life, but he did comfort those who needed it. And your attitude concerning a funny observation and good point is most certainly not a comfort to anyone or anything but your biased mind.

    1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
    1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

    So you are saying that you know his nature more than who/what he is, which is love? Careful here, you sound a little law minded aka dogmatic (a favorite argument style of lofty minded individuals who claim to intimately know God's nature). Let's not forget John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

    All of these verses point to the truth in the Word of God, which you clearly have an aversion to since you are making statements that purport to be Spiritual without any Word to back them; God is love. I again refer you to another verse that talks about God being the Word and the Word being God.

    Beyond that, as has been pointed out numerous times, the whole dress up for church thing started 150 years ago. Now you liken it to holiness and claim that it is suddenly God's nature to expect you to dress up, and that dressing up usurps his love? On gaming forums you would be called a troll. One who posts worthless things just to get others to bite. I bit. And I'm out.

  48. Yes, I made an error. There is no Bible that says that Jesus wore his best. That is my ignorant statement.

    Is there Bible that says exactly what Jesus wore?

    I agree that I do not think he pondered his clothing.

    If he was of a humble mind/apparel, I think we should do the same (open to correction).

    Being dressed humbly implies dressing modestly or not arrogantly (again correct me if I am wrong).

    Speaking for myself, I think I am able to look nice for church and still look humble.


  49. You are twisting what I said entirely.

    "God's nature to expect you to dress up, and that dressing up usurps his love"

    Disagree completely. Of course not!!! But way to twist my thought!

    "One who posts worthless things just to get others to bite."

    So now you are judging my intentions of my post?!

  50. Hmm. And no one has answered the question that was asked TWICE: does it mean we should wear pants at church so women are more comfortable? Instead of answering questions, people are just stabbing and being insulting.

  51. One last thing...

    "God's nature is holiness" has nothing to do with the content of the original post.

    It was a comment made.

    I really don't want to argue and disagree for the sake of disagreement.

    God of course is love. But his nature is holiness.

    If you are interested in knowing "why" just ask!

    So you can calm down.

  52. I think people avoid the skirt issue because that will be the same as this, an ongoing debate (not the attention of this forum) in which people will still hold to their personal beliefs. In the end somebody would probably end up condeming another to hell so please, move on to the blog that chantell posted today, #116 concerning the stretching of hands from the pew after the intial alter call.

    If you this were a youtube film...
    How many hits now Joel?

  53. Sorry, I meant "if ONLY this were a youtube film

  54. As Joel's close friend and fellow blogger I know that he would want me to tell you this:
    The pants/skirt discussion is out of bounds. We will not and do not discuss particular standards on this blog so stop asking for clarification. Anyone who opens this discussion to the pants/skirts issues - your comments will be promptly deleted.
    Clear? The topic is dressing up for church and all things related, but this is not a "standard".
    There are a few standards we dont discuss, but two are haircutting and skirts. Out of bounds, so chill

  55. Wow. Censorship on an issue we herald as so important.

  56. Anon above, I agree. Think we should be able to respectfully discuss anything. But it's their blog...

    Why are some pushing this discussion there anyway?

    We act with disgust that other's comfort is such a bad thing. It doesn't mean sacrificing your only son to make the other guy comfortable. It's simple sensibilities.

    Lots of good comments on this post. Those who support "dressing up" beyond a late 1800's cultural novelty need to brush up a little though, and quit turning cultural fads into religious relics. You'll have a happier life. Strip away your idols and get back to loving Jesus with all that passion you waste on non-salvific issues.

  57. Sara, anonymous and Glen,

    It is not that discussion of standards will immediately find your comments deleted.

    Rather you won't find it within the posts itself.

    I believe each voice is important. The only thing that result in one's comments getting deleted are personal attacks (which at times came close to happening within this comment section)...

    I will not openly censor references to standards within reason. But as Sara pointed out if the authors aren't going to be posting on standards, then why would the comment section be discussing such matters in the first place?

  58. Who is the clown that keeps directly contradicting the Bible by posting God's nature is holiness with absolutely no scripture to back it up? I really would love for him/her to post their name like the rest of us so I could know who I am about to publicly deride on this post.

    Anon Clown (you seem to want to make everyone laugh, so this is my name for you until you provide one), get a Bible, open it up and read it. Where in there do you find anything to subvert 1 John 4:8.

  59. Exodus 15:11; Psalm 29:2; Leviticus 11:44 & 45; 19:2; 20:7; 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16. There are many many other references to God being holy or holiness. I believe this makes the point about God's nature being holy. Although I am not the anon who first made the statement, knowing some simple scripture does help. It is also a matter of common sense: He is God; a diety. And we as His people must be called to holiness: translated from the greek: the consecration or effect of consecration; sanctification of heart AND life.
    Just a point.

  60. Who said he is not Holy? I think some were, to shine up their favorite idols, trying to make him exclusively holy, not realizing his full nature. He is not uni-dimensional, but multi-dimensional. His Holiness hates sin. It rejects it. In love, he is long-suffering, patient and "not willing that any should perish." He doesn't give up. The NT explicitly states (as Riley mentioned), God is LOVE! He is that! Love is expressed in the person of Christ, but while Christ is the expression, God is nature IS love. It's not either/or it's both/and.

    It's also apparent, we sometimes ask the wrong questions and wonder why an answer doesn't satisfy. Questions that are filled with assumptions, biases and poor theology don't always have pretty answers.

    How we got from laughing about the dressing up culture (and those who worship it as a relic of the church) to wearing pants/dresses -- makes me wonder.

  61. UPC's greatest strength=alienation of non UPCer's. I imagine this stems from the sense of entitlement felt by those fortunate enough to be born into a UPC home and raised accordingly...notice the sarcasm of my statement. Before any of you "I'm UPC but I'm not at the same time because of all the negative connotations" people feel like this is merely an attack of those other UPCer's who aren't quite like you, this is to all UPCer's. You feel that "truth" is exclusive to you because you acknowledge certain hidden revelations in the Bible or otherwise that other Christians for some strange reason have missed or aren't "blessed" enough to realize. This mindset is what makes you wrong. Jesus didn't distinguish who was the greatest of his disciples (not the 12) because there aren't any that are greater than others. Pentecostals/Apostolics/whatever else you want to call yourselves weren't divinely placed onto a pedestal that other groups of Christians are supposed to try to reach. We're all on the same plane. If you feel like God blessed you by placing you in an Apostolic home so you would already know "the truth" than you're an idiot. Don't worry I'm probably never going to visit this blog again because I'm sure I'll be crucified with your responses to this...although, I did enjoy reading the blogs...so it's nothing against the nature of the blog or the blogger. Good work sir (blogger). Humorous indeed. It's the bickering that's annoying. It's the perpetuation of the idea that you can't build your own foundation of ideas about God and take your own journey, but instead are handed a rule book and overview of what you believe before you believe it. Think for yourselves. Examine your ideas and "beliefs". Figure out stuff for yourself. Ask questions. (What? We can never question sacred "truths" like skirts for women and such. I mean how would it not be "holy" for a woman to wear a skirt all the time right?...Except for when you're sleeping...or when you go to the bathroom after you wake up...better just say at home altogether...or when you go skiing. Better not ask questions about the more important doctrines...you know, the ones that actually are "heaven or hell" issues. STOP ALIENATING YOUR AUDIENCE! Jesus didn't and we shouldn't either. This pointless bickering isn't justified by God or anything else. All it does is make people like me frustrated and turn non-Christians off to the idea of Jesus altogether. Great representation of him btw. I'm sure he would've defended his honor at the expense of losing the non-religous audience right?...Not...he would walk away from the religious altogether and tell his message to people who actually had room in their brains for it. I'm not an angry person I promise. I hope that this post does something good, but I have a feeling it won't and that it will solely go down as self indulgence on my part. Good day.

  62. To the last poster- I agree with your post and as a matter of fact you sound like a number of my close friends.
    Unfortunately posts like yours, which captures my opinions beautifully, are usually met with blind, ignorant rebuttles that we're just liberal, bitter, uncommitted charismaniacs that want to go to Heaven but lack the "real committment" that hard line apostolics possess.
    That's why I don't really engage the debates as much as others, because they almost always become a circular argument of who has the better revelation, and who is a weak minded liberal.
    Anywho, thanks for your insight. People like you give me hope for our movement. God bless.

  63. AMEN to the last two posts, and what a scary place to be as many of the young people who carry the beliefs associated with this blog. I too have hope for our movement, although at times like this when our foundation is being skewed by things like this...we need to stand stronger than ever. Lord protect my mind!!!

  64. Someone's read Pagan Christianity. I like.

  65. Ryan, there's more than Pagan Christianity that has contributed to the awareness of our fallacies and misguided cultural mores.

  66. fashion show! fashion show! fashion show at lunch!! - Kelly Kapoor (the office)

    When so much of our "inner" church culture is vested in our outward appearance...well...the show is on! We give spiritual credence to clothing on a level NEVER displayed biblically. Attending church can become a type of performance for some, and part of that performance is your costume.

  67. Wow! After all the long and serious posts I almost hate to put something light, but I will anyway :)
    Without actually looking, the only thing I can remember the Bible saying Jesus wore is swaddling clothes as a baby and whatever garment he was wearing that the lady with the issue of blood touched the hem of. So obviously we should swaddle our babies and only wear hemmed clothes. Drat! I'll have to get rid of my two ragged fringed jean skirts!
    I also have came across another problem. What do you do when what you consider casual someone else considers dressy? I was just out running errands one day and someone asked me if I was going to a wedding. I kind of stared at them blankly and said no, why? He said "Well, you're wearing a skirt." It was one of my normal everyday jean skirts, a little frayed from wearing it so often. Apparently, just wearing a skirt at all means you're wearing your best for some people :)
    Good post.