Sunday morning fashion.
I used to think this was an absurd thing to spend energy considering. Seriously. Does it matter what we wear on stage?
Well, yes. But maybe not in the ways you’ve been conditioned by the American church culture to think.
What changed my mind?
I stumbled upon instructions from God about what to wear when in worship. Check out Exodus 20:26… “Do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.”
Yep. That’s really in the Bible. In the law. In the instructions for worship.
And so I made myself think a little more carefully about the role of fashion in worship. Here are 3 things that help me:
1) Be modest. The most direct takeaway for the modern church in that verse in Exodus is certainly to regard our modesty. If anything about the way you dress on the platform draws attention to places that would embarrass your great-grandmother, change clothes. Guys, nothing that calls attention to anything. This means if you wear skinny jeans, ask an older woman if there’s anything distracting about them. Gals, 5 fingers below your neck is as low as it should go. We don’t want to be distracted by cleavage. And knee length or lower. We don’t want to be noticing your legs. Remember, men are wired by our creator to be extremely visual. Help us think about Jesus, not you.
2) Be authentic. If you are more comfortable in dress clothes, don’t try to wear a t-shirt just to fit in. And if you are a jeans guy, don’t wear a suit that makes you feel and look awkward. There are limitations here, of course. If you’re most comfortable in a a speedo, don’t wear one to lead worship. Authenticity should defer to the community. Which brings us to...
3) Be contextual. In some churches, coat and tie is the only way to be respected. If you were on a mission trip to lead worship in Haiti, you would dress in a way that honors the locals. The same is true in a church. Of course in other places, the converse is true. The only guy in a suit looks like he must be visiting. So dress in the context of where you are. Speaking of mission trips, if you’re in the country, don’t dress like you’re in New York City. And vice versa. If you’re in an arts district, don’t dress like you are part of the Dukes of Hazard. Be contextual to your congregation, and to your neighborhood.
The first one is clear: be modest. The other two are more of a tension to manage than a problem to solve. If you want to make a statement with your fashion, let it be this one: "I’m not here to impress you about anything but Jesus.”