Does God Care What You Wear to Church?

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

Come as you are or show some respect–which is correct? Does God care what you wear to church? Find the real answer here.

 Does God Care What You Wear to Church?

Growing up, I was raised to dress very conservatively at church.

Not only was my grandfather a preacher, but we also attended a church that was pretty legalistic.

I remember, in middle school, judging the girls whose skirts didn’t extend below their knees. Didn’t they know that wearing skirts that hit right above the knee made them look “available??” (for lack of a better word).

I was absolutely stunned the first time we attended a different church and one of the girls was wearing short shorts. This was church! Why wasn’t she dressed in her Sunday best??

 

Even now, as a grown-up, I have a difficult time not dressing up for church.

I’ve worn jeans a handful of times–when I was majorly pregnant and that was the only thing that fit–but that’s about it. It’s just habit. I don’t particularly care what anyone else is wearing, but I feel weird if I don’t dress up at least a little.

 

I stopped thinking much about it–figured it was mostly a matter of personal preference–until I spoke with some other Christians who were pretty passionate what I asked, “Does God care what to wear to church?” So I figured I’d better address the issue as well.

 

 

Does God Care What You Wear to Church? Well… Yes and No.

 

Honestly, I think “What is appropriate to wear to church?” is the wrong question. Not only does it completely miss the point, but when you try to narrow down exactly what styles/cuts/fits/lengths are and are not appropriate, you’re pretty much guaranteed to wind up in a legalistic mess. Plus, it doesn’t take into account various circumstances and situations.

 

For example:

Does God care what you wear to church for

  • The divorced man who is finally ready to attend church for the first time in years, but the nicest thing he owns is a pair of ripped up jeans and a wrinkly old t-shirt. Should he not come?
  • The party girl who is fed up with her current lifestyle and ready to make a change, but the nicest thing in her closet is still pretty risque. Should she not come?
  • The tired mom who barely made it out of the house, who didn’t have the energy for yet another clothing battle this morning. Should she not come?
  • The family who is desperately struggling to make ends meet, but who has chosen to tithe faithfully even if it means they go without nice clothes. Should they not come?

 

The truth is, wearing nice clothes doesn’t make you a better Christian, or more holy, or any of that nonsense. In fact, wearing nice clothes may even interfere with our ability to be good little Christians when it steals our focus or makes others uncomfortable.

 

I love how Pamela Hodges writes in her article, Today was Easter and I almost didn’t go to church. You might be surprised why:

“When we meet Jesus in the long line to get into heaven, he won’t be asking us, “Did you wear a pastel Easter dress to church on Sunday?””

How sad to think that people all over the country miss out on church every Sunday simply because they don’t have the “right” clothes to wear! In these cases, does God care what you wear to church or that you are simply showing up to church?

Furthermore, NOT wearing nice clothes can actually be the most loving thing to do sometimes, as Amy Reasoner points out in her thought-provoking post, Why I’m wearing the same thing I wore last Easter (and it’s not a dress):

“That’s when it hit me – Easter is also a Sunday when people who do not regularly attend church are most likely to set foot through your doors. And I knew in that moment that if someone visited our church in jeans on Easter, I most certainly didn’t want them to be the only one.” And she’s a pastor’s wife!

 

Interesting…

Or consider 1 Samuel 16:7, which says:

 

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

 

But the truth is, there is a big difference between someone who comes to church in clothes that aren’t as nice because they don’t have the time, energy or money and someone who comes to church in clothes that aren’t as nice because they are lazy.

And honestly, don’t most of us fall into that second category more often than we’d like to admit?

We don’t think about preparing for Sunday (or Saturday night, depending on when you go to church) until it gets here, and so when church time rolls around, we pretty much grab whatever we can find that’s reasonably clean and head out the door.

I know I’ve worn a shirt with a stain on it on more than one occasion because, for some reason, Sunday morning is the ONLY time I ever remember that all of my white shirts that match the skirts that still fit my big, pregnant belly have stains on them…

(For the record, the issue has since been remedied…)

 

We dress up for date nights with our husbands. We dress up for back to school night to meet our children’s teachers. We dress up to impress our friends when we get a girls’ night out. But it’s too much to ask to dress up for one hour a week to meet with the King of Kings?

Ask yourself, “What should I wear to church?” Then decide why you should or shouldn’t dress up. Again, not that dress matters–it doesn’t–but it just shows where our heart is at.

 

When you go to church, do you find  yourself asking, “Does God care what you wear to church?” Do you treat it as something special, something sacred? Or is it just another day?

Do you prepare your heart ahead of time, or do you just show up? Do you remember that you’re meeting the King of Kings, or is it just another thing on your to-do list? When you get dressed, are you thinking about what will make YOU look good and draw attention to you, or are you thinking about the One you are there to see?

 

THESE are the questions we need to be asking ourselves. And when we do, appropriate things to wear to church will follow. 

 

So, personally, I’m going to keep wearing long maxi-skirts with white t-shirts and flip flops. It’s dressed up enough to be nice, but not so dressed up that it would be uncomfortable or distracting. It’s modest and it’s practical (I can walk, kneel, stand, chase children etc without worry).

And when I see other people wearing things I maybe wouldn’t pick, I’m not going to judge. I’m just going to think “I’m glad you’re here” and know that God is too. Even if they’re wearing short shorts. Because I don’t know their heart or their circumstances. Only God does.

 

Have you ever asked yourself, “Does God care what you wear to church?” How did you answer that? What do you wear to church?

  1. An interesting perspective, for sure. I certainly agree that when in the building referred to as “church” for performances called “worship” & speeches called “sermons” one should dress in a manner appropriate to those activities. However, the church is not a building to go to but rather a group of believers. We are the church – you & me. By your standards I should dress up whenever I meet with other believers. This can certainly be taxing. How do you propose I dress for my chemo treatments? My doctor is a Christian so I’m going to church. What about breakfast with my family? I must confess that I’m often in pajamas for that one. Yet the fellowship is oh so sweet no matter what the attire. Often our conversation leads to deeper spiritual things, times of praise or sharing tears. That is church! I came to believe in Jesus as a teenager, late at night, in bed, in my pajamas. So glad God accepted me that way & that he didn’t require me to clean myself up 1st & dress nicely.

    1. That is true. And my recommendation to dress appropriately for your surroundings still applies. If you are dressing up for breakfast with your family in an attempt to make yourself look good–then don’t do it. If you don’t get dressed out of sheer laziness–then that might be something you’ll want to consider. It isn’t WHAT you wear so much as your reason for wearing it. And that applies wherever you go.

  2. Growing up we were not allowed to wear anything other than a dress or skirt to church even in -35 degree weather. I grew up with the idea that we dressed as feminine as possible to present ourselves to the King. But . . .

    Fast forward 20 years. I was very pregnant and walking my 1 1/2 year old in a stroller next to our church on a Saturday afternoon. An older gentleman came up to me and asked in earnest, with what I could tell where his best jeans and a ragged polo shirt, “am I dressed well enough to go to mass?” Despite how strictly I was raised and how I was raising my family, I was very moved. I told him yes. God just wants you there. It doesn’t matter how you are dressed. He loves you. I think I saw him step in to a church for the first time in years. The Holy Spirit moved me and I will never forget that moment. So when I am frazzled, tired, hurting or feeling lost or I just don’t have it in me to dress up – I think about that moment. He loves you and just wants you here.

  3. I love how if your on a sports team you have to wear the team jersey. If your in a marching band you have to wear the band outfit. If your at a job police, security company, Doctor, city workers, you have to wear the uniforms. I remember one hot year in school our school didn’t have air conditioner. Our teacher said they couldn’t wear shorts. If your working in factories some supply coveralls. Why then as followers of Jesus do we think we can wear what ever we want to to church?

    1. I think one big difference is how badly people want you to come to these things. If you don’t show up for work, your boss doesn’t care, he’ll just fire you and hire someone else. With church, though, people’s souls are on the line and we want to remove any artificial barriers we can so people COME. We can worry about dress later. Or at least, that’s one explanation.

  4. I understand what is being said but what about the whole MODESTY issue with people who CAN afford to dress well. It is not about if your garment is old or new or what type of clothes you are wearing if it is denim, cotton or whatever. My issue is people need to dress modestly and the bible speaks about this. We have people who have been in church for years and are worshipers on the pulpit and you can see their entire legs and their cleavage, is this what God requires? I am speaking about people who have very good jobs and purchases most of their brand named clothes on-line or in expensive stores. Can you bow down like that before a Holy God with out your breast showing or dance before God on stage without me seeing your panties.

    1. Well, if they are believers, perhaps they simply haven’t realized how their dress affects others. In our culture, it’s completely normal to dress in revealing clothing outside of church. Perhaps they genuinely aren’t aware that their clothes are distracting. In which case, it *may* be appropriate for a VERY loving and extremely delicate conversation in private. Chances are, if they are in church, and especially on stage, they genuinely want to do the right thing. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt?

  5. It does not matter what Brittney, Linda, Rebecca, Tom, Dick, Harry, the priest or preacher, etc….says. What does the Bible say?

    We have lost the fact that God is a HOLY God and deserves our very best. If our very best has holes in it, ok. If it is last year’s model, ok. But why would we show up for church in jeans and a t-shirt just because it’s more comfortable. We come to worship the creator of the universe, the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God of the Universe.

    When the people of Israel came to the Temple to worship the Lord, there were specific guidelines they had to follow about what they ate, how they washed, what types of sacrifices were to be brought and how those sacrifices were to be handled. GOD HAS NOT CHANGED. He still commands respect and honor and….for us to present ourselves in the very best way that we can.

    1. That’s the thing. The Bible does NOT say. So all we have is our best guess based on what we do know — and there are some really fantastic arguments on both sides!

  6. I FEEL IT IS ABOUT RESPECT. If you are a party girl you probably have to go to work or school so you do have something, I at my worst time raising 4 children by myself managed to dress for the respect. I feel it is due for our God who died for me. We make excuses for everything that makes us put forth effort, but as we all know if you can afford to go out and party you can afford even to go to a resale and get something that shows respect. Everyone who has a job has the ability to get something to wear, There are some Churches who also have clothing for the people who cannot afford to buy clothes.
    THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE WHO DRESS THIS WAY HAVE NICE CLOTHES,BUT DON’T WANT TO PUT FORTH THE EFFORT…THAT IS THE WORLD TODAY.
    AS I SAID BEFORE I WORKED 3 JOBS AND BARELY MADE ENDS MEET, BUT I ALWAYS GOT UP DRESSED AND MADE SURE MY CHILDREN WHERE DRESSED NICE AS WELL…WE NEED TO STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND SHOW GOD OUR RESPECT AS WE DO EVERYONE ELSE WE TRY TO EMPRESS.

    1. Absolutely. If we’re just making excuses, that’s not okay. It’s all about what our heart is like when we are getting dressed. Are we dressing to show respect? Or so we look better to others? That’s what really matters.

  7. The church I attend really struggles with this. There are people who believe that you should come as you are. And then they are who believe that you should wear your best. I am the type of person who usually wears​ the best that I have. This problem is causing division amongst the church.

  8. This post has gone on for a long time and I can agree with almost all of you, It is true, God has his hand out for whom ever wants it, he does not judge. I think the most of us will agree its ok once or twice if your new to church wear your the best that you have, if its short shorts or whatever we are not to judge. But after you realize you need to dress to your best or get $10 dollars to go to the goodwill and get you a nice church outfit then it would be nice to dress appropriate for our Lord. Like the post at the top said you put your heart in your outfit to dress your best for a date or a reunion, wedding or whatever . Jesus wants that same passion for him. My own opinion, He is the most important person in my life he deserves that same passion.

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