3 Reasons Christians Shouldn’t Dress Up for Sunday Worship

3 reasons christians should not dress up for sunday
God Doesn’t Care What You Wear

“I mean, it’s not like this is a job interview, my wedding day, or meeting the president of the United States.”¬†Ever notice how we typically go out of our way to present our best selves to another human, but adopt a casual, Laissezfaire¬†disposition when it comes to an encounter with Christ?

Some will say, “But God loves me for me, not for what I wear.” That is very true, but it is our actions which communicate our attitudes. My wife also loves me for me, but when we go out for date night, I dress my best out of respect and to show her honor. The same could be said of a job interview. Your potential employer likely doesn’t care about your sense of style at home, but dressing well during the interview demonstrates your interior condition; it communicates your respect for him, the job, and the company he represents.

How much more that we offer our modest best (whether rich or poor, whatever that may be) when encountering the King of Kings?

Yeah, Except I Didn’t Come to Look Good, but to Worship

So you come in clothes you’d wear to hang out with friends? As an expressive species, our dress indicates our position or activity. A soccer uniform indicates that you are either an athlete or a fan. A comic character suit suggests a form of cosplay. Dress slacks and a dress shirt/jacket and a dress point to an important event.

Casual dress indicates an easy, familiar atmosphere with no real import.

The word “worship” comes from the Old English weorpscipe¬†which means to show honor or recognize something’s worth.

If the object of our worship on Sunday is God, then doesn’t how we present ourselves communicate the worth we feel toward God? If we dress our absolute best and make careful preparations for a prom date or business dinner, but come to worship dressed as if watching a football game with friends, what does that say about how we view God?

Okay, but Casual Dress and Hip Worship Attracts Youth

So do video games, drugs, parties, movies, junk food, fast cars, and porn. Should we incorporate those into the church experience too?

Oh wait, some already have.

This attitude betrays a tragic flaw in church dynamics today, especially within “emergent” Protestant communities. From the earliest days of Christianity, the Church was set apart from the world as a “light upon a hill.” Non-Christians knew us by our conduct, how we presented ourselves: with love, dignity, and modesty.

When our youth are in the fragile position of discovering themselves in Christ, how are we supposed to help them understand their dignity as children of God, purposed for more than the world can provide, when we are desperately trying to make the Church attractive by the world’s own standards?

When Church looks identical in worship (the worship experience is no different than attending a popular music concert) and teaching (sermons are delivered by “hip” pastors who act and speak no differently than a motivational speaker) to what they can find in the world, Church is reduced so a semi-pious social club.

The Root of the Matter

It isn’t that the Church should make demands upon the faithful on rules of apparel. But what if we had something in the worship experience that would inspire the deep, careful reverence which God deserves?

The problem is that this modern, emergent, reactionist “church” doesn’t have it. Take away the cool music, the lights and effects. Take away the cool pastor and the hipster atmosphere. Remove the emotions, the “feels,” the buzz and surge of an exciting concert or movie and what do you have?

An empty building. In fact, if a non-Christian walked in on a praise and worship experience, would they know that it was a service, or just a Christian rock band concert? Is the sermon really any different than a speaker at a conference? At what point can you really say that you’ve separated the Sabbath and kept it holy (literally meaning “other”)?

There is no Substitute for Christ

But what happens when Christ is truly present in body and spirit? The presence of the Eucharist, Christ truly present in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, inspires mature worship which requires nothing but itself. No flashy music or impassioned sermons. No cool youth programs or special effects. No need to constantly reinvent the wheel and stay hip and relevant to attract people. Christ does it himself in the majesty and celebration of the Mass, the full and proper worship of God.

That is what people crave when they wish to truly worship, but many of the faithful are consuming the fast food of worship instead of partaking in the real food of Christ, the real and wholesome banquet of the Mass (Jn. 6: 55-57).

Try as he may, your pastor and praise and worship team will never have what only Christ can offer. So, are you ready to leave the dollar menu meal behind and attend the Supper of the Lamb?


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2 Comments on “3 Reasons Christians Shouldn’t Dress Up for Sunday Worship

  1. Some respectful push back: Scripture tells us to dress modestly. And while plunging necklines are the target of preachers, in context I believe modest most certainly means humbly. Some of the biggest fights my husband and I would get into were on Sunday morning after trying to get our family in dress clothes. In an effort to look the part of a Christian, we were not being loving to our children or each other. And even though my clothes weren’t tight I was being anything but modest. One Sunday we realized my husband no longer had dress pants that weren’t too worn to wear, so we stopped worrying about it. Replacing them, and buying dress clothes is simply not in the budget. I understand your points but I don’t think you can argue the early church, made up of many slaves, required dressing up for church. In fact Paul writes, not to wear costly apparel, or have braided hair ( a sign of wealth). Christianity wasn’t a club for the wealthy rather open to all.

    • You’ll notice I never offered specificity in what to wear, but the spirit in which we dress ourselves as a part of the sacrifice we bring to worship. My best for God may look different than yours, but the spirit is the same.

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