Dress Code? What Dress Code?

My wife and I recently went and watched a movie called Breakthrough at one of our local theaters. Let me first say that this movie was fantastic. The acting was decent, message phenomenal and I loved how it showed how all the emotions a family can go through during any times of trials and suffering.

The movie is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s adopted son John (What a great name. But spelled wrong of course :-)) falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction.

Topher Grace

I personally really connected with the Pastor, Jason Noble, in this movie played by Topher Grace of “That 70’s Show” fame. And its not just because of the character being a Pastor. No, its because I can relate almost 100% to how this Pastor was mistreated by Joyce, Johns mom, and how this Pastor was willing to use “outside the box” thinking to reach the next generation for Jesus Christ.

Without giving away too many spoilers for the movie, Id like to fill you in with one thing that this Pastor went through that I have also went through in my 7 years of full time ministry.

Joyce had an issue with her new young Pastors hair. Now, I tease my 15 year old son about his hair style all the time. He and I go back and forth about how his hair is “Justin Bieber Like” and he will say something along the lines that my hair style is the same as Noah’s was before the Flood. He and I have a great time about it. No one, in any Church I have been on staff at or Pastored, has ever commented negatively about my hair style but they have about my clothes.

Pastor Jason Noble & John Smith

My brothers and I grew up Pastors kids in the late 80’s into the 90’s. And as typical for that time period, there was a certain way we were to dress as the Pastors kids or for Church Service in general. Even as a child I never really was comfortable “dressing to impress” so to speak. But I do get the logic of dress in our “Sundays Best” when going to worship Christ our Savior and King.

Changes in what people wear to church reflect the wider cultural changes regarding clothing. The whole of American culture has dressed down. This has produced largely generational debates over appropriate Church attire. Those who favor more formal dress suspect casual clothes reflect a disrespectful, irreverent attitude toward God. Those who favor casual dress feel it reflects a more authentic approach to God.

Fact is, God does not explicitly endorse either formal or casual clothes in corporate worship. He doesn’t even enter the debate. In fact, outside of ritual Levitical laws that no longer apply in the new covenant, God says virtually nothing regarding how we should dress when we come together to worship Him. Here is what He does say though…

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives Grace to the humble.” (1st Peter 5:5)

So…based on Scripture, we are to wear humility.

Another fact is, all clothing — formal, casual, work, sport, beachwear, sleepwear, underwear, headwear, can be a source of great pride. There isn’t a clothing item or style that we can’t turn into an expression of self-centered, self-exalting self-worship.


However, if we clothe ourselves with humility, if we “count others more significant than ourselves,” and “look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others,” then no matter how we dress, we will honor and reflect Christ (Philippians 2:3-4). We should always dress modestly whether we are in Church Service or out. This also means that the way we dress should not be a “stumbling block” to others. (1st Timothy 2:9-10, 1st Corinthians 8:9)

I am not a big fan of wearing suits and ties what so ever. I always wear them though when I am officiating funerals, weddings or have been invited to events that require that particular dress attire. For the most part though, I preach in a pair of jeans and a nice shirt. I can assure you that how the Holy Spirit speaks through me when I preach does not change based on my “Sunday Morning Dress” attire.

I once Pastored this Church where some long term members found it disrespectful that a first time guest was wearing a hat in the Sanctuary. I refused to even say anything to this individual wearing the hat. This person very well may not have known Christ as Savior. Why would we want to hinder this guests potential Salvation based on our own personal beliefs?

If our hearts are wearing humility, what will matter to us is whether God is Glorified and others are loved. But if our hearts are wearing pride, we will disregard God’s Glory and others’ Spiritual health in favor of our personal beliefs.

Here is what I practice…I wear clothes that will keep myself or others thinking more about Jesus. In church. At home. At work. Anywhere. Everything should point to Jesus Christ.

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