Sunday, August 23, 2009

Clothing and Church

I love living where I do. I am loving living in California and discovering all the new aspects of West Coast culture. I've never had more fun in my life. But I do get confused once in a while. We were invited to visit a church (before we came to Santa Barbara) and were told to not dress Midwestern, but casual. For me that meant khaki pants and an open-at-the collar buttoned down long sleeve shirt. Martha, ever the proper Southern lady wore a dress.
At church, we stuck out like sore thumbs. Our friends were in jeans and cargo pants, flip-flops and sandal. It was really casual. Good worship, but casual dress. We were invited to go out for dinner with a group that night. So we went back to the hotel to get it "right" this time. I put on jeans and a nice, dark t-shirt and Martha wore pants and a pullover. At the restaurant, the guys were in slacks and blazers and the women were all in formal dresses! What did I miss? Why was church less formal than dinner? I did not get the memo.
A good article in Christianity Today by a woman, Tracey Bianchi, addresses this whole realm of dressing for worship in today's culture. I certainly want our church to welcome anyone as they are. But what are your thoughts about how pastors and leaders should dress? What is distracting? What's just cultural and regional (I came from a culture where robes were normal) and what is being biblically sensitive?


At 6:29 AM , Blogger kent said...

Just a heads up, the link to the CT article does noot work.

At 9:33 AM , Blogger Isaac Johnson said...

My church here (or at least the leading candidate for a home church) is very casual. Definitely jeans/tee shirt. There is something to be said about attire showing respect, but also something to be said about making everyone welcome to the house of the Lord.

I think of all sorts of New Testament stories of Jesus giving Pharasis crap for acting high and mighty. JC hung with the hookers, tax collectors and "dirty people". He didn't wear fancy robes. I think if we are to be like Christ, it really is a good thing to dress down.

Arguably it goes against my strong midwestern roots, but at the same time it's comforting to know that it isn't a one-up show-off game going on at church. And I think if the Spirit is there, it shows, be it with Jeans, Slacks or Dress pants.

Besides, really, as long as the coffee is strong and hot, I can let the small stuff slide :)

At 11:48 AM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Amen to Coffee!!

At 12:03 PM , Blogger kent said...

Don, how connected is the issue of more formal attire and the concept of sacred space?

At 4:59 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Great question! I need to think about how we dress appropriate to different spaces and different functions and purposes.

At 7:57 AM , Blogger Kenny Johnson said...

I live in SoCal and my church is very casual -- including the pastor. I absolutely hate dressing up for anything, so I love it. I managed to even find a job at a big corporation where I get to dress in jeans/ts daily. I've never dressed up for church and never want to -- and I hope it's the same for work (I have had to dress up for work).

Oh... I also don't dress up for dinner. :)


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