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October 25, 2006


Robert Prusa

If you go the same church that I do, Matt you qualify, you probably know what I think on this issue. And if you go to my church and don't know what I think I commend you for not noticing what I wear to church on Sundays. My basic strategy, although not all of it, consists of asking the question 'What am I going to wear today?' Meaning that I ask the same question that I would ask any time I don't have something specifc to do that requires special clothing. In doing this I make sure that I will not be to hot or cold and also wear something that I plan on wearing all day. This is different from my go to work routine as there is a specific dress code that I must adhear to. During my time at the UGA Bookstore it was decided by the management (of which I am a part) that jeans would not be allowed anymore. This was brought up because a secret shopper report cited it as looking unprofessional. We discussed and decided that because we could not police that everyone wear nice jeans, since of course the cool ones come with holes in them now, that we would cease to allow them. We want to look professioinal and be recognized as people who work in the store as opposed to blending in with customers. So in summary we put this rule into place because we want to look good for our customers. In comparison the only reason we would dress up for church is to look good for the other people there. But God sees you you might say, unfortunate that is not a valid argument because God does not wear clothes right now and when he did he wore the same thing everyday even when preaching sermons so good that they would be written down and reproduced more than anything ever has. Anyway since I have to dress up during the week for mans approval that is the last thing I would want to do while worshiping God and trying to forget about man's approval. Besides my jeans (which I will be wearing to church Sunday) cost like 4 times more than the khakis I wear to work everyday. Bottom line for me is wear whatever you want to, from shorts and flip flops to suits.

PS The only mention in the Bible that came to mind concerning clothing other than what Driscoll mentioned concerning Paul getting on to people for dressing to nice is in Ephensians reminding us of what we want to make sure to wear. You know; belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of readiness by the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit being the word of God. So that Bible better be in your pocket and God in your heart whether you wear a tie, jeans, or both.

Matt Adair

Robert - I've never noticed what you wear at church. I have noticed the soul patch you've been growing that your wife loathes - that might be off-limits.

Frank McKinley

I don't think much about what to wear to church anymore. I have been in environments where you are expected to wear professional attire. But as I have moved around the dress code has become more casual. I don't mind. I don't wear a tie to work now. I'd likely be stared at or asked if I was headed to a funeral.
The thing I've been impressed with most lately is the fact that God loves me and all His children regardless of their outward adornment. I agree with Driscoll that you shouldn't dress provocatively. I would say that the way you dress can reveal the motives of your heart. If you're not at church to seek God's face, then why are you there?

matt churnock

For me, I try to set apart sunday from the rest of the week as much as possible, try to make it a special day. going into the Lord's house should be different from going into work, it should be more special. I don't know why we have a cultural hang up on dressing 'up', or nicer than the rest of the time, but if anyday should get special wardrobe attire shouldn't it be sunday? I don't have to wear anything special to work, and that could be my hang up here, as long as I have pants on no one is going to look at me funny. It may be because of this that I dress up for church. I wouldn't go on a date with my wife in jeans and a tee-shirt, why would I try to do that to God? I don't get dressed up to show the rest of the church how important I am, but I do get dress up to show God that I care he gave me this day to worship him, even if it means I have to sacrifice and button the top botton on my shirt.
p.s. I also leave my tie for lunch, what do you want to do about it?

Matt Adair

Churnock - Good to see you on here. Question - Driscoll's post talks about some differences in the way we see God, the nature of our worship gatherings and the buildings in which we much do those kind of things influence your dress on Sundays. I think you addressed this a bit, but I'd love to hear you expound on that a bit.


Interesting read from Driscoll. As a soon to be member of a church where more formal attire seems to be the norm (pastors wear the Geneva collar) than what I faced in Watkinsville, the missional questions are quite pertinent. Matt, you need to start wearing the Geneva collar with your jeans. That would be a good look, no? Robert asks about clothing in the Bible. Zephaniah 1:8 God warns of the impending doom on officials who wear foreign attire in His presence. So what might that foreign attire be in reference to that God would find so offensive? These do not appear to be priests who did have a uniform. What are we to make of this passage Matt?

brian t. murphy

man, weird question. most weekends, I'm just happy and surprised I'm in a church building on sundays.

wear whatever you want. jesus = freedom.

what do the homeless people wear at your church, matt?

Matt Adair

Murph - Sadly, we've kicked all of the homeless people out of Oconee County. It really sucks. I agree that this is a weird question; I think it's one of the most obvious marks of a church that has gotten off track missionally - but if you knew how often we hear this kind of'd want to buy me a beer. I'm glad Jesus gets you to church on Sundays, btw. Oh, and I'm stoked about the new RMM stuff...send it our way. We'll pimp the heck out of it.

Doug - the people of Israel had a dress code (check out Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 12:12), which was not arbitrary but constituted a barometer of fidelity to Yawheh (Numbers 15:39-40). The issue at stake here was the distinctiveness of the people of God - these leaders chose rather to be like the nations, so that their clothes revealed a heart estranged from God.

On this side of the cross and under the New Covenant, there is both continuity and discontinuity. What is contiguous between us and the leaders in Zephaniah is the issue of loyalty to God. What has changed is that the external manifestation of such loyalty has been abrogated to make clear that the way of Christ is primarily a heart issue.

So to pull BTM's comment, Christ has given us liberty in this area (although someone may still want to argue a bit) - freedom to honor Him with everything, including what we wear on Sundays.

Jason G.

I wear khakis on sunday because otherwise I would be the only one in jeans. As soon as I get home I change clothes. I don't think that God gives a crap about what we wear to church so long as it isn't distracting to other folks trying to worship (thus ruling out clear heels for Kristin and a skin tight muscle shirt for me). I don't view God as the president and I don't view the church building as special. I just wear khakis in an attempt to fit in. I would be more comfortable in jeans, but I don't want to stand out. It probably wouldn't matter because most of the people at my church think I'm a jackass anyway. Another reason I don't wear jeans is that I think that if I did, the main reason would be to try and make a point to others and I would be secretly patting myself on the back thinking that I am better than these other folks because I'm wearing jeans. So, for now, I wear khakis and a button down or polo.

As far as BTM's question goes...what the hell kind of question is that?

Matt Adair

Gammons - you're more than welcome to wear your skinny jeans this Sunday when you're here in the 'ville

Robert Prusa

Churnock - I think what you have said is great. Your point concerning the fact that you are not expected to wear a different dress to work is a big factor. For you dressing up separates Sunday for me dressing down separates Sunday (plus I need to look like a rock star, hence the SRV soulpatch which will be gone soon). The problem that arises is when either view demands their preference out of the other. Jesus sets us free.

Matt Adair

OK, let me ask this question - what biblical text/theme drives the view that our dress in gathered worship should be 'different' than what we wear during the week? I've actually heard a similar argument used to defend the exclusive use of western classical music in gathered worship. Fire away...

brian t. murphy

if western classical music is required for church, I quit being a christian.

sorry africa. you can't worship jesus.

gammons - what the hell was wrong with my question?

Jason G.

BTM - that question was asked in a smiling/scratching my head sort of way. I am not sure what you were asking. I guess the better question to you would be "what the hell are you actually asking?" Are you actually asking what homeless people who attend Matt's church dress like? Are you being sarcastic? Are you just being funny? Are you pointing out irony because Jesus was homeless and no homeless people attend suburban evangelical churches?

I've gathered that you're a pretty smart dude, so what I am asking you is "what were you actually asking" because I can't tell. I don't think you were being literal, but I wasn't sure of the point you were trying to make with your question if you were being sarcastic. Or maybe you were just trying to be funny. I guess I'm just dense and don't get it.

matt churnock

Thanks for having me. Anyone who knows me (few on this side of the internet tracks), know that I weep at our current cultural attitude. This includes everything from how we build and live to how we treat others. We live in a culture of self degrading issolation, and we think we like it. This issue of what to wear to church is much deeper than the actual clothes we strap to ourselves and worship (it always has been). The question really is, 'what is my attitude towards worship and how is is different than my everyday life (or should it be different)?

If I get dressed up in all my fancy duds to have others think I am better than they, well that is wrong. However, if I get all dressed up to show God he is worth my textile sacrifice, then my body starts to reflect what my mouth is saying when I sing 'worthy is the lamb'. This is an attitude issue not a dress issue. If I wear jeans and a tee-shirt to church am I any less capable of worshiping God (as if I am ever capable?)? No, well maybe yes. If I thought, 'man i really don't want to go to church, so if I have to go then I might as well be comfortable' then there is a root issue far beyond the clothes.

I am a traditionalist when it comes to life. I hate that men don't wear hat (not baseball caps, but real hats). I hate that people see the tie as useless because it serves no funtion. I hate that we build churches with the same construction materials and methods we build Wal-Marts. What does this begin to say about us as a culture? Are we putting the wrong em-fas-sis on the wrong sy-laa-bul?
I will dress up for church, not because my momma told me to, or that you will think I am better than I am, but I want to show God that he is worthy of my best... both attitude and clothes...

I would also add that God doesn't like worship without a pipe organ:)


Churnock, The problem with ties is more than their lack of function, it is that the function they do have is negative (constricting and a choking hazard). But more than that I challenge the tie because I believe its decorative value is built on cultural expectations and not on aesthetic values. In other words, its silly to have a strip of fabric dangling from your adam's apple we just can't see it becasue we have been trained to accept them as appropriate formal embelishment.

As far as you liturgical perspective on clothes wearing goes, I think there is a lot to it. And to address Adair's question about being different for gathered worship, I wonder if the issue isn't necessarily difference, but rather deliberatness. And also not "should," but what may be better (which requires discernment and situational assessment).

Go Cardinals!

Anna P

As possibly the last comment on this long strand, I would just like to speak for all wives (if I may) and say that we are getting a little laugh at this incredibly long and thought-over discussion from men about CLOTHING. Not that I don't agree on some of the points, but it's still funny!

d hunt

OK...if you're going to fight over clothes, then no more clothes! No more clothes at church! And that's my final word!

Matt Adair

Gammons and BTM - I'm glad you settled the nature of the hellishness of whatever question was being asked. Oh, and Jason, since you're now staying in the 'ham this weekend, I double dare you to wear jeans to the glory of God on Sunday.

Churnock - I'm interested in the theology of 'wearing my best for Jesus.' The NT seems to move the emphasis away from the external to the internal in terms of sacrifice. I'm wondering what carry-over that has for things like clothes. Oh, and it's handbells that are the exclusive musical instrument of God.

BTW, I hate handbells but I did hear them on a track off of the 'Progression' album by Voice, which is a Calvinistic hip-hop record that amazingly doesn't suck. That entire sentence might be the most surreal thing I've ever written.

George - Congrats to the damn Cardinals. And talk with me more about what contributes to the deliberateness and 'better-ness' of discerning what we wear on Sundays.

Anna - Thanks for jumping into the pool with all these metrosexuals. I'm actually glad to see guys who care about Jesus and know how to put on pants...

David - no fighting here, but if you're serious, I guess it will make for a pretty easy decsion about what I'm wearing tomorrow morning...guess I won't be wearing the wireless mic!


I will bring an extra belt, so that you can still wear your mic.


Thanks, who saw that coming?

That is a good question. here are a couple of general offerings off the top of my head:

It is "better" to choose clothing for corporate worship because of the choosing itself. Meaning the act of deliberation as an element of participation in the worship event. It is true that NT emphasis is on internal rather than external, but the knock on the external was toward those who where using them as identity markers of true faith, or even as works of merit, not because external action isn't a part of our realtionship with God. So when I say "better" I don't mean someone is more righteous or less of a sinner, I mean that being deliberate is something that can aid in realtionship with God in worship as a physical action that sets the worship event apart.

It is "better" to choose clothes that honor your brothers and sisters (i.e. are not offensive or provacative in style or condition).

It is "better" to choose clothes that do honor to your dignity as a image bearer of God (this reqires discernment on several levels, one being context).

I realize this still leaves it pretty open ended, but that is unavoidable when we are talking about discernment in general. There are so many variables to consider for each context that without a detailed test case to apply principles to specifics generalities must suffice.

matt churnock

I would have to agree with George on this one (as much as I hate to do it). My beef with wearing jeans to church is not that God is not please by that, but that wearing jeans takes zero effort on our part.

Adair, I don't know if my stance is 'wear your best for Jesus', but I think that it is more that the inside should reflect the outside. I like to prepare myself for worship, that includes picking the clothes that I feel allow me to set aside that time from the rest of the day. I can't back that up with scripture, that is where you preachers come in, but I can say that if I wore jeans and a polo to church I would not set that worship time apart from the rest of the 'chores' I have to do. It is much like the call to worship. One could ask, 'Do we worship better with a call to worship?' I don't know, but what it does do is say,'hey, this is what we are about to do, so get ready to rumble.' For me, putting on slack and a coat say that same thing.



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