Dress etiquette for church

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One of our youth worship pastors was an intern and part of the worship team at one of the largest and most influential churches in the United States. I will not name the church here, because I don’t have permission to post publicly, but, if I were to name the church or pastor, most Evangelical readers would easily recognize it.

Our worship pastor forwarded to us the dress etiquette for the choir and worship team of that church, if they were singing on the stage. This is what it reads:

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Ladies and Gentlemen:
We know that we always want to look our best, but we must also maintain our integrity in our dress because of the position that we hold in this Ministry. So please ALWAYS adhere to the following rules when preparing your Sunday attire!

ABSOLUTELY NO:

–       Sleeveless shirts

–       Cleavage showing

–       Tight pants or shirts

–       Bermuda shorts or Dressy shorts

–       Jeans or Denim/Jean jackets

–       Flip flops

–       Short shirts (do the “worship” test)

–       Ladies, if you wear a skirt or dress, it must be mid-calf or ankle length; NEVER above the knee.

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Certainly, a non-believer will most likely laugh at this list, and some hip Christians will call it religious garbage. I find this to be very bold and beneficial.

Here are a couple of thoughts concerning dress etiquette:

1. While coming to worship the Lord, our dress style must not be distracting, revealing, which draws people’s attention away from Christ and the message to what we are wearing. That’s idolatry and a sin.

 Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

2. I find most people in an American church dress much more appropriate than a typical Slavic speaking congregation, though the theology, preaching and teaching is heavily focused in the Russian church on dress etiquette, and appropriateness; that’s a fact even if you go to some of the most traditional and conservative Slavic churches. Certainly, one can argue that the reason why women in American churches dress more appropriately is because everyone just wears pants, baggy clothes and tennis shoes, while most women in the Slavic churches wear skirts, dresses, and high heels. But even in the Slavic churches that have moved away from a dress or skirt requirement, many of the women then switch to wearing the most inappropriate pants.

3. There are some things in the Slavic community that I don’t look forward to loosing, when it comes to assimilation into the American culture. But, church attire is one thing Im looking forward to seeing a change in as we assimilate. I think the above list can be a start, especially for those on the stage speaking, singing, or being announced or presented (like during baptism or engagement).

4. Undoubtedly, the other extreme is to treat the church no different that a park, bar, gym, or a sleep-over. And some American and Slavic churches have taken the other extreme. I do believe how we come to church matters, especially if you are part of the team involved in serving and ministering to those who come!

5. For every culture, what is “appropriate” is different. For example, in some parts of the world, it is considered appropriate for the stomach to show, to breastfeed in public, as long as the legs don’t show (like in India). In the western world and the US, it is totally the opposite. When scripture teaches about “respectable apparel,” it is speaking of respectable to the culture that surrounds you. We must be wise and respectful when visiting other cultures & sub-cultures, and dress appropriately to that culture! In other words, reflect the style of the congregation.

6. To the girls and ladies that do dress inappropriately – if you are looking to attract the attention of a man to yourself, attract a man worth attracting. Your inappropriate dress style will only attract a man who has not made a covenant with his eyes, and is burning with lust. Your ultimate desire is for a man to love you for who you are – therefore, let a man fall in love with your heart and character, instead of only with the physical appearance; that’s temporary.

7. I guess I need to leave some advice for men, since most of the stuff above mostly applies only for women. Men, dont blame your sexual lust problem on the way women dress to church. Your covenant between God and your eyes needs to be so strong, that even if there are women around you dressed inappropriately,  you are unaffected.

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