Do Churches Practice What They Preach?

Many church websites say "come as you are." 

Yet, when you get there, you see the pastor in a suit (though nowadays not usually with a tie) and the others on stage as well as the congregation in business casual attire.

Some churches are a little more lax. In them, sometimes the men wear jeans and you see very few women in dresses. Instead, the women are wearing some type of dressy outfit - slacks and a really nice shirt.

It is very rare in most traditional churches, at least in my area of the country, to see women in jeans on Sunday mornings - and I have yet to see a female on the stage showing up that casually.

This has been a big deal to me since I was a teenager. I had a friend whose parents never attended church. She started coming with one of our mutual friends.

She wasn't poor to the extent that she didn't have food or housing, but she did have a limited amount of clothes, especially dressy options. In fact, she owned literally only two dresses.

Now, this was almost 40 years ago. Then it was very rare to ever see a woman even in slacks at church, much less jeans. 

My friend was embarrassed about not having the right kind of clothes to attend on Sunday mornings, so she would go at most twice a month - to space out wearing her two dresses - in order to not have others notice that they were always the same two.

I made it my misson then to never go to church in anything but jeans. 

As I entered into early adulthood, I went to a different church, one that was a lot more casual. This was one of the few churches at the time where some of the women did wear jeans. 

...But not on Easter. Everyone dressed up on Easter - usually wearing new dresses or suits. 

That is, except for me. I still chose to wear jeans on Easter. One of my friends asked if they were at least new. I had to laugh, because they were - but I didn't wear them BECAUSE they were new - it was a coincidence.

I've broken the vow I made to myself a few times over the last four decades, but not often - and not at all for the past decade or so.

It's even kept me from participating and serving on the worship team at one church.

After I joined the church, I emailed the worship pastor a few questions about their music ministry. 

I had noticed that no matter what the congregation wore (this was one of the some men wear jeans and no women do churches), those on stage dressed up.

One of my questions was about wearing jeans if you were part of the worship team (it was the most important question).

He responded quickly to my other questions, but conveniently left that one answer out. There was a silence about the issue of wearing jeans.

I never asked again about joining the worship team there.

Even though I don't agree, I can at least understand why some want to dress up for these services. As the world gets more casual, there are some who really like to dress up and it's one of the few places its still accepted.

Plus, I assume they can afford it.

But what about those like my friend from my childhood? How can a church advertise that you can "come as you are" but then look down on those who do? (Though they might not overtly look down at those who wear jeans, I've seen the looks and I know what at least some are thinking.)

When I was young and started on this quest, I would hear the argument that "Don't we want to wear our best when we go into God's house?"

I have sooooo much to say about that, but I'll try to keep it brief.

#1 - God's house isn't a building. It's a person who has accepted Christ.

#2 - Why would God, of Whom scripture says that He doesn't look at the outward parts of man, care what we wear?

#3 - What if "our best" IS nice jeans and a t-shirt? What if "our best" is torn jeans (from age, not fashion) and a scraggly shirt?

To sum up, I just feel really strongly that continuing to put an emphasis on how one looks when going to church just adds to the idea that it's the outer self that matters. 

That thought is the basis of most stigmas... and church is the one place where it should be different.


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