Too much is often made about the small things in church. It’s become a cliche to mimic arguments over parking spaces, someone sitting in “your” seat, and the color of carpet. Sadly, these are sometimes real fights real churches have. They’re a distraction, and they ought not happen in the household of God.
One of these fights we have far too often is what people wear to church. It’s actually the question I get most often when I invite people to come to church with us; “Do I have to dress up?” “What kind of church are you, the dress and tie kind or the laid back kind?” I usually tell people that we don’t really think about stuff like that around our church. We have people who I wouldn’t recognize outside of a suit and people who I wouldn’t recognize in one. Truth be told, I really like that about my church.
Nonetheless I almost always, at a minimum, wear a tie. I feel very strongly about this. Let me tell you why.
I’m a volunteer staff member at our church and a frequent teacher. My wife and I joke that I miss the most church ever for a guy that attends 48-52 Sundays a year. Why? Because a good bit of the time I’m in a classroom teaching Children’s Church, or helping someone else do so. We have a Sunday School hour prior to corporate worship, and I can’t remember the last time I was a student. I’m either teaching the little kids, the teens, or (as is currently the case) the adults. In short, I’m busy. As much as any volunteer lay member, I’m a part of the team that makes up the public face of the church on Sunday Morning… and I am very proud of that fact. I can think of no better way to spend my life than pouring myself into my family and my local church.
Most of the time, in my service on Sunday Mornings, I’m in a role that requires I handle the Word of God. Now, it’s abundantly clear that it does not matter how nice your clothes are when you teach the Bible. Believe me, my ties, shirts, and jackets are from Wal-Mart. TJ Max, and… if God so grants me favor… the clearance rack at Men’s Wearhouse. I’m well aware that the Apostles wore rags some of the time when they preached, particularly when they were in prison. The clothes don’t make the teacher, God does. Nevertheless, my conviction is that if I have the chance I want to put my best foot forward when I’m handling God’s Word.
Another reason I dress up is because I don’t want to make a bad impression. Being a teacher and being a part of the “team” on Sunday Morning, I don’t want to dress in a way that diminishes what other people do in our church. Sticking out like a sore thumb is a hard image to pull off when you’re trying to die to yourself and serve others.
To me, it’s simple. Is what we do on Sunday important? Shouldn’t I dress like it matters?
Alistair Begg likes to say “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.” The quality of our dress, so long as it’s modest, is neither main nor plain in Scripture. So we should avoid making rules and holding people to an extra Biblical standard. This post isn’t meant to teach or explain some rule for living, but rather to offer some thoughts on why I make the decision I make. Some people think our culture has gotten to the point where a suit and tie is a barrier to communication and fellowship. If that’s your particular case, we ought to sacrifice it and become “a slave to all” (1 Cor 9) and not wear one. Nonetheless, I think there is something to be said for taking what we do seriously on Sunday Morning and dressing in a way that reflects that seriousness.