Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What Do You Wear on Monday?

Quite regularly someone will comment or ask a question regarding what people should or should not wear during the corporate church gathering. Specifically when one is involved in leading music, preaching, sharing announcements, etc… One school of thought believes you should wear what the culture around you wears (e.g. if most of the congregation wears jeans, I wear jeans). Also, some people take into consideration their target audience, even if their target audience is not presently attending (e.g. if you want to reach surfers, start dressing like a surfer). Another school of thought would promote that in reverence and honor you should dress up when you worship God as a community, thus the term “Sunday best.”

A recent suggestion was made that we should dress in such a way as our congregation would dress when heading to work (school/whatever) on Monday. So, this leads me to the question “what do you wear on Monday?”

A few guidelines if you respond: People sometimes have strong opinions on this issue so please be charitable and gracious in you comments. Of course, this is not a scientific survey, but I look forward to hearing from you.


scooterpastor said...

It might be against the rules to start your own comments, but on Monday when at the church I usually wear jeans or nice shorts. If I’m doing messy work I dress down more and if I am in front of a lot of people I sometimes dress a little on the nicer side.

John Carlson said...

On "Monday mornings" (as most days at work at church) I wear shorts and a t-shirt or polo shirt in warm weather, and jeans and same shirts in cooler weather - long sleave shirts in winter of course.

As far as church goes and being on stage: I've taken to the mentality of functionality and practical: I try to wear something that is a.) comfortable to perform the job in, which can sometimes be physical and demands flexibility (i.e. playing drums, percussion, as well as sometimes requires crawling around the stage setting up, etc. Dress slacks get too messed up and aren't comfy for me to play in b.) something I can wear two days in a row and it not look too worn (I only have so much money for clothes to wear and keep nice for church) c.) something that doesn't draw attention to itself, cause distraction, or offend/put off someone, but not look "stiff" or too dressy - yet looks good for video and stage presence d.) something that looks and represents/matches the style of music we play/culture we are/represent/communicate to. I believe we should look somewhat like "musicians" - not like we're going out to the golf course - whatever that means. I am a larger person and hard to fit, so trying to accomplish all of these points is not easy. I've taken to wearing nice blue jeans (not with holes or too washed out, etc.) black shoes, and mostly black or dark colored solid shirts. I used to wear blue jeans on Saturday, and black jeans on Sunday, becuase there supposedly was some concern over wearing blue jeans on Sunday. But no one has seemed to bring up any issues that have been brought to my attention or I'm aware of with blue jeans. And really, it seems kind of goofy to say that for some reason, there's some sort of difference between wearing the color blue one day, and the color black the next. Last, I also feel as if we should look "normal" and "approachable" - not so stiff and dressed up (ii.e. suits, ties, etc.) that we look less approachable in my mind - but just that we look like average normal comfortable, respectful people.

Jim C said...

Ok... I've got a confession to make... I'm a jean wearer :)

Seriously though..

Part of it is out of practicality - I no longer have dress clothes that fit and I wear them so rarely that I don't want to invest the unbelievable amounts of money that it costs to buy most of them.

The other part is the mentality that "God loves me as I am"... I *completely* agree that we shouldn't be disrespectful or distasteful with our clothing - IE revealing too much or wearing offensive slogans etc on shirts - but I am one of those that believes that what God wants of me on Sunday He also wants of me the rest of the week. Dressing up on Sunday seems "fake" for me (not saying OTHERS who dress up are fake).

God does indeed deserve our best... but I am always hesitant about what we call our best... is it our dress style or our heart? Is God impressed by what I wear or is man?

Its sort of like the idea of worship - Sunday is an extension of the worship that we should be having the rest of the week... not suddenly the time to "shape up" and worship.

Other than that, I'll just "ditto" what John said :)

First Theology said...

Typically Jeans + T-shirt or Jeans + Collared shirt M-F. Slacks (cotton or synthetic) are usually only for more "dress up" times for me as are button up shirts with long-sleeves... To teach/preach I don't do shorts (and usually not t-shirts either), but I sometimes do jeans.

Just wondering what do you folks think/expect pastors in Iowa City should typically wear to work and for a weekly gathering/service (or does it depend what kind of pastor and who is being ministered to?).


John Carlson said...

Response to Josh's question:

NOT a suit nor tie!!! :-) And no aggie shirts.

Anonymous said...

This is a more difficult issue for women than for men. I agree with John Carlson. Much as I would love to see our pastoral staff in flowing robes and ornimental head dress, dressing for comfort and such that one appears approachable is logical. (kidding about the robes - love the hat idea) For women, current trends, some of which in my mind are not acceptable for stage or even public for that matter, often attract the wrong kind of attention. Scott and I have had this conversation many times in the past. At any given service, there are men strugging with all kinds of issues and the last thing they need to look at is a suggestively dressed woman on stage to distract them. I think some women are not fully aware of the effect dress can have. This is such a hot issue for me. I get so frustrated when I see some of the attire, or lack of attire, on women today. They don't seem to or choose not to understand what they are advertising. The Bible is clear on this issue. Women are to dress modestly, period. One does not have to dress trashy to look classy. As short as I am and love the added height, I will get down off my little box now. JBoats

j lassen said...

Mondays = no class. So, I'm probably wearing some version of pajamas most of the day, unless I absolutely have to go in to work, then it's jeans. (can we do a pajama weekend, Scott?)

Bu really, this is a good topic to think about. I am always glad to sing on Saturdays so I can 'dress down' - for some reason it feels like I'm less 'on display' when I can worship in casual clothes. That being said, I (and most women, I believe) think entirely too much about what to wear and how I'll look and what people think. Sometimes, just being honest, my worship gets precluded by these constant fears/comparisons.
I think there's something wrong if how you look enters your mind more than what you are doing, who you are worshiping. So...for me, casual is best, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jenna's comments.

My opinion - I don't think it matters what you wear as long as it is not drawing too much attention to yourself and as long as it is modest. There are many people who won't go to church if others are highly dressed up either because those people appear stiff or because others feel less worthy for not being able to afford those types of clothes. I think if you wake up on Sunday and just try your best to be presentable, then that is your BEST. I don't mind jeans that are clean with no holes and a nice clean shirt.

As for a pastor - I think khakis and a nice shirt is more than enough.

-Jen Essington

First Theology said...

One other question… do you think that this discussion is, maybe as well as being a contextual/cultural question, also one that is addressed differently generationally? I don’t mean their aren’t exceptions to some generational stereotypes, but do you think “whatever works/ is functional/ is authentic for that person/context” is more a “younger evangelical” perspective and “what ever exudes respect/authority/excellence/professionalism” is more of an “older evangelical” response? (BTW – I know every word I used in those qualifiers is completely open to interpretation… just asking about generational approaches and attitudes.)

DMK said...

Interesting discussion.
For me it's khakis and a collared shirt during the week and at church...I guess it's just my uniform.
I do find it curious that many seem to find it more acceptable to wear more casual clothes on Saturday than on Sunday. I'm not sure why that might be. We are worshipping the same God, with the same service, and with the same people. The only difference seems to be the day of the week and possibly the number of people in attendance. If the clothing worn is tied to the number of people in the audience...what is that formula?
Often times, when talking to family or other people attending...if clothing comes up it is generally because of it being too casual (no socks, faded jeans, etc.)I have never had someone tell me that their worship experience was hindered because someone was "just too nicely dressed".
Just some thoughts of a "Token Old Guy"


Jim C said...


Absolutely - I think that it is a generational difference as well.

I've heard complaints at my church (not Parkview) from both sides... older generations saying that the younger generations do not show respect when they dress "down".

I've also heard the younger generations saying that the older people "miss the point" when they put the emphasis on procedure and legalism rather than scripture.

Both sides seem to me to be missing the whole point of walking in the door that morning.

There is certainly a validity to a person who wears suits all week long feeling like they should wear a suit on Sunday... perhaps they feel like they don't want to give their boss more attention then they give God?

At the same time I think there is validity to the person who thinks that God reached me as I am and I want to serve Him as I am without feeling fake.

DMK - interesting comment with "never had someone tell me that their worship experience was hindered because someone was "just too nicely dressed"." I can understand that. My first reaction though comes back to my struggle with "do we therefore mandate dress code because of a possible cultural/generation opinion" or "is it worth discussing this with the individual to find out why their focus was on the attire of someone"?

Failing to feel like you can worship because someone was not dressed up enough (with the exception being people who are scantily or inappropriately clad) seems to me the equivalent of saying that you couldn't worship because the gels on the Par64 lights were the wrong color, you didn't like how a mic stand was positioned or you just couldn't concentrate on the message because Jeff's hair was slightly out of place.

We should be counting it joy that such a variance of people can join together to worship corporately.

If we can't handle jeans, what do we do when a visitor from Africa comes in with an African robe (this HAS happened at my church). Does God love them any less because they didn't wear a suit and tie?

It all goes back to the "where's the heart in the matter" for me, I guess. I don't wear jeans to rebel against those who wear suits. I wear jeans because to me it *is* being dressed nicely and its being real with what I am every day of the week. God is my God Sunday through Saturday, not just at church.

Ultimately I guess I'm saying that unless someone isn't dressing modestly - it doesn't matter if a person wants to dress up or dress down. And if someone wants to complain about either side of the argument, I think it is worthwhile to find out more, because I'd guess there is more to their thinking than appears on the surface.

Just some thoughts.

First Theology said...

JimC- Good thoughts. One more question... Do you think that in our current American culture (or various plethora of sub-cultures) it is accurate to say there exists some sort of consensus for saying "collar shirt & khaki's OK, jeans & t-shirt not OK" (or any such generalized statement) OR do you find that the degree of fragmentation and multiculturalism at we live among makes those kind of determinations untenable? If so, is that a problem we challenge or a reality we live at peace with? FYI: I’ not trying to be a total relativist, I’m just asking :)

Jim C said...

Josh -

I'd have to say that I don't think the "collar shirt and khaki is ok" model works as a mandate... and here is why:

Who created the standard and what was the reasoning behind their model? Where is that putting the focus? On the traditional, white-collar conservative definition of "acceptable"? "Look like a standard to be accepted"?

Is that automatically giving the wrong impression to the immature believer? Are we teaching them that legalism and an adopted standard of man are more important than loving your brothers and sisters as Christ loves us? Does it say that I'm more "godly" if I look a certain way? Have a certain job? Listen to a certain radio station? Read a certain author? Attend a certain conference? Put a certain bumper sticker on my car?

Granted I am taking this to the extreme, but its simply to show that cultural mandates don't seem practical or even effective for anything more than surface issues.

What about the person looking for a church body that walks in a says "I don't see anyone I can relate to" - and walks back out?

The beauty in diversity (within Biblical context) is that God has people of all walks of life and all gifting to serve Him. You know the old sayings like "we aren't all God's hands... we aren't all God's feet etc..."

I keep going back to "within Biblical context" because we don't want to create cases where we are causing a brother to stumble from lust etc with inappropriate attire - but beyond that we need to make sure that objections raised are from a Biblical standpoint and not a personal preference.

Parkview especially has the challenge of diversity because you have very well educated, professional adults coupled with college students and young adults from all walks of life... transplanted for at least the short term to Iowa City.

So the question then becomes not whether or not God is ok with our individualism of dress... but more so is the church willing to accept those people as their audience or even as their leadership?

I'm not suggesting that we CHASE culture... though I do believe that a church that losses site of relevance runs the risk of dying off. It goes back to Scott's article on being "in the world". (Scott - you seem to keep getting me in trouble!!)

I am however encouraging the idea that accepting various types of dress in a church is in a way addressing what really matters - fellowship, teaching and worship with God's children... not just God's children who dress a certain way. Maybe to the point of acknowledging that a brother or sister who is different from us might have something of value to challenge us with - an area where perhaps we've become complacent or "man-centered".

It can be argued from both sides that the opposite thought is an immature perspective. Citing examples in the Bible of both respect toward God and the simplicity of Christ's desire to be among men as they were - but I think that takes the discussion down the wrong path.

If our focus is truly on God and being a servant to Him and others... then we don't have to worry about when a person's attire doesn't serve our idea of personal taste.

It seems the key is loving for who we are in Christ, rather than being hindered by how we all differ from each other and our western concepts of "comfort" and "proper attire".

Again... please understand that I mean this within Biblical context. I'm not advocating acceptance of disregard for Biblical standards, merely advocating the questioning of the purpose of extra-biblical ones.

J Carlson said...

Not that this sovles any biblical principles or anything, but from a stage/performer (sorry, lack of better words) and making an "impression" which whether we like it or not, we ARE making one ,good or bad, and need to be aware of that - I would look at like this. (and I'm married of course so this comparison doesn't apply for me any longer, but did at one time of course.) How would I dress if I was going to meet my serious girlfriend's parents for the first time for dinner at their house? I'd want to make a decent/good impression, while being myself, yet not overdoing it one way or the other. Yet I'd want to dress comfortable/normal enough for my girlfriend, etc. - I'm needing to hit several targets there. And a lot of it, like it or not, is about making an impression. Well, I certainly wouldn't get all dressed up in a suit and tie and "outdress everyone" yet I wouldn't want to dress too down either. So again, for me in that case, nice jeans, nice shoes, a nice shirt would be par for the course. It would fit right in with her parents, as well as fit right in with my girlfriend most likely. It would be "me" - and it would be comfortable for the occasion.

You know, bottom line? It's all clothes, it's all material. Why should it matter all that much no more or less than the color of my skin would? As long as it's not an obvious case of drawing attention to ones self, or trying to make an outright rebelious statement against something or someone.

One other note - I've actually purposely studied the congregation for what they wear this past year. I've only seen perhaps in any one service 1 to 2 men wearing ties. (and there's one guy that always wears a tie.) But rarely do a see in any one service more than 1 or 2 men. If it's more, it's usually an usher that I've seen before wearing ties. I don't neccessarly see a LOT of difference in the dress of our conregation from Sat. to Sunday. Maybe slightly more dressy on Sunday - that could be because you see more people in general of course.

Bottom line - I think our worship teams are doing a pretty good job of walking this line. I think we need to address speakers and pastors on stage on Sundays, because it's radically different than what they wear on Saturday. And the the look, feel, and vibe of what they wear on Saturday is AWESOME - it's SUCH better feel than what looks and feels stiffer on Sunday with the suits and ties. I don't know if this is something that has been mandated for teaching pastors or not by someone, but it seems that they're all wearing ties and more on Sundays. I LOVE seeing Jeff in a sport shirt and slacks like he wears during the week to work - that's SO Jeff and looks great. But it feels like he's a totally different guy in a suit and tie on Sunday, with all due respect. As well as our other pastors when they wear ties.

Jim C said...

John -

Does that mean I can keep wearing jeans!?! :)

J Carlson said...

Jim C

Well, as long as they're 100% Authentic Levis! (grin)

- John C

scooterpastor said...

Wow, it’s amazing how far this discussion went today! I’ve been addressing home projects the last 13 hours, so have not had the opportunity to check in. Here you go….

Jenna, I will see what I can do about pajama Sunday. During my few college musicals the orchestra in the pit would have pajama night one night during the show. Why not do it in church! :)

Josh, I think the generational question is a good one. Rather than force everyone to fit a specific “style” perhaps there is some acceptable margin that takes into account different generations. In other words, some people look hokey when they try to be too hip.

DMK, the reason we presently dress differently on Saturday vs. Sunday is partially due to “The Well.” That service was always intentionally more casual. It seemed fitting to keep the “Saturday” service in that vein since it is not your traditional service day.

Josh, Jim and John… nice conversational string with a lot of good thoughts.

It may be a minority opinion, but out of fairness I have heard several voice their opinion recently that they feel jeans are too casual for worship services. I was interested to hear any from that camp share their thoughts on this issue. If your reading this and share this opinion, please feel free to leave your comments too.

For those of you who know me, I am a guy who tends to prefer dressing down in general. This is what I would prefer to do in most settings but have in general always tried to be a team player in regard to what was asked of me by leadership.

Anyway, I am going to share some more thoughts on this issue in another post. I really appreciate you all pitching in on this because it really does help me to hear what you all think.

J Carlson said...

I do think certain jeans that I've seen some people wear, even in my own band, are probably not what I would consider "nice" jeans. (jeans with holes in them, too long, faded, etc.) I wonder about wearing them with flip flops as I've seen some people do. Then again, that's "them" and that's the style. But I think there's a big difference between NICE casual jeans worn with decent style in mind, and how people generally view those, and more grungy jeans, and how those may be distracting or create cause for ridicule among some people. I'd be curious to see if it's the "condition of the jeans" or any jean no matter how nice they are that creates the issues.

Ya know, however, I really can't believe we're all making this big a deal out of the whole thing!

Anonymous said...

Peronally, I don't like to see jeans on the stage: black, blue, fitted, ratty or otherwise. There's no reason not to dress up at least enough to put on dress pants/Dockers and a shirt with buttons. I wouldn't show up for church in jeans and a tee shirt (jeans and a sweater, yes) and I really don't think leaders should. It just looks sloppy.

Nener said...

There is so much time and care put into all types of worship from the exterior of the building to the foyer to bulletin boards and announcement sheet displays to the stage, the lighting and the fabric drapes each step toward the count down to the service time the people standing up front could either enhance or distract. When I visit it makes me feel so special knowing individuals prepared for me and cared to give their best. If we only dress "up" for Christmas and Easter are we not sending the signal that we are Chr-easters ourselves? If this is even a topic I think you know what you should be and not be wearing/saying/doing/...