Sunday, May 13, 2018

Churches and their Popular Inclusion of Dress Information on their Websites

Our church doesn't advertise a dress code for our services, contrary to the recent fad where churches address it on their websites.  It's very popular.  It now seems like vital, almost required, information for churches, which would likely sneer at churches that teach on dress or even have scriptural dress standards.  Almost exclusively they want you to know that when you come to their church services, you can dress like you want.

My wife, two of our daughters, and I travel to Europe in two weeks.  Today I read an evangelical tweet that mentioned a church in London, called Gracelife, so I clicked on the website and of the very few words on its front page are these two sentences:
We're content-driven in our choice of songs, and choose a range of music that allows us to express our worship joyfully and respectfully as 21st Century worshippers. There is no particular dress code, and children are very welcome in the service. 
Unmitigated musical style and dress stand as essential information at Gracelife, an ideology elevated to a sacramental status in evangelical churches today.

Usually you will see similar language in a section churches title, What To Expect.  When I searched that phrase with "Baptist" and "dress," I got 379,000 results.  The top site on the first page included, What Should I Wear?  "There is not a strict dress code at Grace Baptist Church for our members or guests."  Next:  "We invite you to come as you are!"  Third:  "There is not a dress code at Pacific Baptist Church for members or guests."  After that:  "At Stockton Baptist Church we don't have a dress code."

If you replace "dress" with "dress code," you still get 117,000 results.  That many church web pages use the words "dress code" in their materials. I haven't looked, but I don't think it is likely that any of those 117,000 say they have a dress code.  I'm not going to try, but  I don't think I'll find one.

I've got two main points I want to confront regarding the no dress code mantra repeated on numerous contemporary church websites.


Speaking in general of evangelism and discipleship, the highlight of no dress code uncovers an unbiblical philosophy of ministry.  You've heard, "Nothing is sacred anymore."  Church very often isn't sacred either.  Church is supposed to be about God.  It can be treated as sacred by how someone dresses in a gathering to worship God.

I think we should assume that the dress information on these websites targets unbelievers, attempting to attract them or lure them with something they would prefer about church, that the path really is strewn with roses.  The Jews seek after signs and the Greeks after wisdom.  Churches aren't to adapt their methods to signs and wisdom.  They are to depend on God, which is to depend on the truth.  Love is in the truth. The change is supernatural.  It doesn't make sense.  It's approached by faith.  The problem isn't intellect; it's rebellion.  The truth isn't the enemy of biblical evangelism.

Methods depending on human means glorify man.  It's not tolerable for believers, since the point of the church is to glorify Christ.  Christ isn't welcoming people into comfort.  All of these offers that clash with the biblical message won't help someone to receive a biblical message.  They are a form of bait and switch.  Unless someone is changing the gospel, the message of the gospel isn't congruent with comfort.

Pragmatic church growth methodology baits with comfort and then switches to surrender.  It makes salvation about you, like a form of therapy, hoping to later see it become about God.  It must start with God and then keep going about God.

Jesus put deny self, take up your cross, and count the cost up front.  The road is a narrow road.  You don't encourage salvation by offering present comfort.

God is seeking for true worshipers.  Worship is sacrifice.  Sacrifice gives something up.  What you want becomes what God wants, not what you want.  Redemption isn't redeeming the outcome of your desires, but redeeming your desires.  Since worship is giving something up, an understanding of worship isn't aided by turning it into what you get.

Comforts of the flesh tend toward the flesh.  You can't and won't flesh people into the kingdom.  Paul calls it carnal weaponry.

Receiving God must be receiving the God, the one and only God.  Receiving God isn't receiving a god that is attractive to us.  People should expect dress that honors God.  God is of the highest value.  He shouldn't be lowered in men's estimation as a means of attraction.  God saves us not by diminishing Himself, but by elevating us.   Men are elevated by having God be of the highest value.


Genesis 3 and several times hence, including with some great detail in the New Testament, teach about dress.  It matters.  Church is about conforming to God.  Unbelievers shouldn't be given the impression that church is about conforming to men.  Churches shouldn't be ashamed of the truth.  If dress means something, which scripture says it does, the world should be told the truth about dress.  It's not acceptable to misrepresent dress to attract unbelievers.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He wasn't saying, your worship doesn't matter.   Blowing through four husbands and shacking up with a fifth was confronted, not avoided because a marriage code would turn her off.  Jesus confronted her with boundaries of God's law.  A right relationship with God doesn't start with concessions to the flesh, as if this is a negotiation.  There is nothing to apologize for.  God has something to say about dress.  We're happy with everything He says, and you should be too.  If you're not, that's on you, not on God, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Christianity shouldn't present a Christianity the world will like.  It should present Christianity.  It's all good.  True Christians aren't ashamed or embarrassed about any of it.  Christians should like Christianity and not be unwelcome to any of it.  It's all good.

True Christians also understand meaning.  They know what dress means.  Very often, the world knows what dress means too.  Exhibiting a lack of discernment or wisdom about dress doesn't speak better of Christianity.

Love is in the truth.  We are not loving unbelievers by masking the truth.  Love isn't offering something other than the truth.  Love isn't allowing for unbiblical behavior as a means of showing unbelievers how generous believers can be.

Christianity isn't picking and choosing what people will follow and what they won't.  It's changing man into the image of God.  It's not just purifying hearts, but cleansing hands.  The church is the church and it shouldn't be presented otherwise.


Bobby Mitchell said...

When searching for churches in particular areas I've noticed this phrase showing up on many church websites: "Visiting any church for the very first time can be a tough experience." I finally searched that phrase using Google to see what would come up. Try it.

It would be interesting to know who coined that phrase. I think it actually reveals a lot about churches that use it.

It is not consistent with a local-only ecclesiology, a high view of God and the Gospel, an emphasis on holiness, and a Scriptural assurance of the power of God and His Word to utilize these methods and "signals" on the church website. I'm noticing more and more that many Independent Baptist churches seem to demonstrate a serious case of double-mindedness. It is like they just can't truly settle what they are. They are so desperate for... something (I don't know what it is) that they are trying to hold to ancient Biblical Baptist doctrine and practice but carry it on the ox-cart of the church-growth movement. And all while screaming to the third Heaven that they absolutely hold to the power of God getting the work done. As the President would say: SAD!

Kent Brandenburg said...


I agree with everything you wrote.

I googled the exact sentence, word for word, and it was 500 times. Obviously people are copying one another. However, maybe people didn't copy word for word with the same info, so I googled "church," "first time," and "tough experience," and it came up 54,900 times. They bore in their bodies the marks of a first time visit.

Bill Hardecker said...

Maybe some church growth and marketing expert copied it from a dental clinic website or something. You know, it can be intimidating.

Kent Brandenburg said...


People say, it's like pulling teeth to get people to church.

Randy Scott said...

Very well written with a concise view on what is truly important. Fanny Crosby wrote "Just as I am without one plea..." She also followed up with "O Lamb of God, I come I come!" That should be the attitude. Humility and submission. Not pride and in-your-face rebellion with the ripped jeans look and yoga pants. It is the same spirit that promotes transgenderism and all sorts of perverse lifestyles today. Yes, come as you are but have enough self respect and respect for God and His Word that we want to dress differently.