Because the discussion about what to wear in the corporate worship gathering is multi-faceted, I began wondering if I could establish a few basic principles that would narrow the discussion down to some clear Biblical parameters. Some of you may think I am making this more complicated than necessary but what can I say, I love my lists! Please note that I share this list fully aware that the Bible has not specifically mandated what to wear in the church gathering; however, I do believe there are some Biblical principles that may be helpful in this discussion.
1. MODESTY (1 Timothy 2:9)
Christians should dress in a way that maintains a healthy level of modesty. Though this is relevant in any circumstance, it is crucial when leading others in corporate worship because we are not to distract people from the glory of God and the message of the gospel. Its one thing to say everyone looked great its another to say I couldnt keep my eyes of that alto!2. GENERAL NEATNESS (Proverbs 26:14-16)
Whether we dress casually or formally we should not be sloppy. Ripped jeans and wrinkled shirts communicate slothfulness and can be a distraction to people.3. CONTEXT (1 Corinthians 9:22)
If we have a specific target or demographic we are trying to reach we should dress in a way that makes us relatable to their cultural context. A noted problem with this may be that the identity of our culture may be too eclectic to easily specify.4. WEAKER CONSCIENCE (1 Corinthians 8)
Though something we wear may be permissible, it may not be beneficial. An extreme example would be for me to lead worship at our Saturday service in gym shorts. There is no Biblical command against wearing gym shorts, but a lot of people in the congregation would likely be offended or in the very least distracted by my choice of clothing. Though this was an extreme example, we need to be sensitive to the reality that what we wear could become a stumbling block for others.5. AUTHORITY (Romans 13:1)
Sometimes we must dress a certain way because those in authority request it of us. I presently dress quite casual in our Saturday services and a bit more formal in our Sunday services. This is because a few years ago, in a meeting with an elder, it was requested that those in front not wear jeans on Sunday and I agreed to honor the request (which was confirmed by the Senior Pastor). Consequently, those who lead downstage presently adhere to a more formal dress code on Sundays.One of the big talking points that came up from numerous people in the previous posts commentary was that we need to just be authentic with who we are and what were comfortable wearing. Certainly this is a credible point and an acceptable consideration; I just couldnt find a passage that addressed it specifically.
In a recent discussion on this issue someone shared with me that young people may be starting to dress more formally in church. Though I havent seen any hard evidence supporting this, my attitude is the following: If dressing a certain way will eliminate barriers for people to hear and experience God in the context of loving community, then just tell me what to wear and Ill do it. If that means a suit and tie, then Ill wear a suit and tie. I just want to do whatever necessary to make the message of Christ more relevant and credible to our community.