Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Monday, August 24, 2015

Are we too casual in church?

I read an interesting article this past week called "Enter the Casual" that talked about how we dress for church and how we approach church. I have been thinking about the issue since I read and shared the article, and I decided to talk about the issue also.... not because I think I can do a better job, but because I do think this is an important issue and I have some other thoughts on it. I may say some of the same things the man did who wrote the article, but I will try to be original. And this is not a "better than you" post.... I have more room for improvement than not.

Does it matter how we dress for church? If you walk into some churches on a Sunday morning, you will see jeans - ripped and not ripped, t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, and maybe even halter tops.

 If you walk into my church on a Sunday morning, you will see most of the women in skirts or dresses, a lot of men in suits and ties or at least with a tie, a few guys in jeans, and maybe a t-shirt or two. Me? I hate ties, and never wear them to church since I have to wear one at work...... and suits? Forget that. It is a button down shirt for me and khakis on Sunday mornings, and often a nice pair of jeans with a button down shirt on Sunday nights... and never tennis shoes.

  If you would walk into a church out West, most of the crowd is most likely going to be in jeans, cowboy boots, and a western shirt. If ties are worn, they are the string tie kind. If you walk into a church in Hawaii, it may be casual and people with no shoes. In the deep South........ you may still find a lot of people who dress up a lot for church. It varies a lot by age, location, type of church, and other factors.

  But does it matter if we go to church in our best, or in clothes we'd wear to Walmart? Does God care? Should we care? I really don't have a concrete answer. I believe the Bible has principles for modesty in how we dress, but I don't know of anything in there that says how we should dress for church.

  I shared the article on Facebook, and a friend commented with "Honestly, I find in the Bible that it's what's in your heart that matters. You can dress up as much as you want to, but if your heart is not right then you are just dressing up for show." Is she correct?

  As I was thinking about this, this came to my mind: If God was at our church in a physical manifestation that we could see and converse with, we would never show up in clothes that we'd wear to Walmart or to play in. We would wear our best. If George W Bush was going to be at my church to speak and I was going to get to meet him and talk to him, I wouldn't show up in jeans, t-shirt, and flip flops. I'd dig out my suit and dust it off, and wear it...... if it fit.

  But we are there to worship the King of Kings, the God of the universe...... and just because we can't see Him, should that make a difference in how we dress and act? Maybe the reason He doesn't seem to show up as often is because we are being too casual.... and not just in dress.

  I could get in trouble for this, but oh well, it wouldn't be the first time......My church has a vestibule or foyer. You walk into the church and you're in that. There are places to hang your clothes, a bulletin board, a water fountain, bathrooms, etc. It is a pretty large area. There are two double doors going into the rear of the sanctuary - or worship center as some people cal it. Now I am going to share something I find disturbing, which would not go over well with a lot of people at my church, but goes well with this being too casual:

  We have Sunday school classes on Sunday morning, and the one for the more senior members of the church is held in the sanctuary. When the classes are over, several people go into the sanctuary after that teacher is done. We sing a chorus, sometimes take an offering for a project, and occasionally some small order of business will be attended to. There are several people who hang out in the foyer while all of this is going on instead of going to their seats...... and they get loud. They get so loud, that the doors leading into the sanctuary are often closed so we can hear the person up front. It usually sounds like there is a party going on out there.... and no, I am not kidding.

  On Sunday evenings, we have pre-services before the evening worship service. There is something downstairs for the youth, something over in the old sanctuary for the kids, and something in the main sanctuary for everyone left over. Not everyone goes to the pre-service, and sometimes the other things let out before what is going on in the main sanctuary..... and again, it sounds like party time. I am one who is waiting out there during that time and I try to be quiet. But the noise bothers me.

  Here we are, waiting to go into what we call a worship service, but acting like we are going to a party. Is that not too casual? To go back to my point I made with clothing, if God was going to be there as a physical person we could see, would we be hanging out in the foyer laughing and carrying on before we went in to worship and spend time with Him? I don't think we would. I think we'd be quiet with a worshipful attitude before we ever got to our seat and sung the first hymn. And I firmly believe the doors to the sanctuary should never need closed during a service because the people waiting in the foyer can't be quiet.

  I am not even sure most of us are doing church right. We go to God's house, dress like we want, act like we want, and don't act like we are there to worship God. And I am including myself in that. Church is almost boring to me. We pray, sing a few songs, take up the offering, maybe hear a few people get up and say what God is doing in their lives, then hear a sermon, and go home. Did we really worship God, or did we just do our required duty as a Christian and check off the box on our list?

  What is true worship? Is it what I described? Is it a bunch of loud musicians on stage dancing around and getting everyone's emotions stirred? Is it being quiet and contemplative?  Is it hours spent in prayer? Is it listening to a long winded preacher?

  This may sound like heresy, but sometimes I feel closer to God outside of church. When it is just me and Him, walking on the bike trail through the woods, driving my car and listening to good Christian music.

  I don't know much we dress up for church matters to God. I don't even know the answer to my question about if we would dress differently if God was there in physical form. I think we would, but maybe we wouldn't.

  But as I have typed this blog post and thought about it, I do believe being casual about being in His house, being casual about worshiping Him is most likely a bigger deal to Him than if we dress casually.... though I am not ruling that out. If we are in church to worship Him, and not just go to check it off our list or keep family or the pastor off of our back...... then we should act like it. Enter the church more quietly with a spirit of worship already on us. If we wait til the service starts to get an attitude of worship, God may already have passed by. Casual dress for church? Maybe. Casual attitude? Definitely not.

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