Giving God our Best

Several years ago, I shared my thoughts about whether or not people should dress up for church (click here to read it). Even though it’s over 3 years old, the post still gets views and comments.  It has generated some good discussion, but one point seems to be repeated by those who are in support of dressing up for church. The point is simply, “We should give God our best.”

On the surface this seems like a good point, but the more I think about this, the more I think we are completely missing the mark of what church should be.  Let me explain. I don’t think we are answering questions like these by using the Bible. In today’s society, people make decisions in several different ways:

  • pragmatically, focusing on the end result
  • experientially, focusing on what they have seen and experienced
  • emotionally, focusing on what seems right
  • logically, focusing on what makes the most sense

But instead of making our decisions and answering questions based on these four factors, shouldn’t we be making our decisions Biblically. When we have a question about how church should function or how we should do something in church, don’t you think that the Bible should be our ultimate guide. If we base our decisions on feelings or logic or experience, then we will be in constant conflict with other believers. It’s fine to have your own personal convictions, but when they are made to be the standard by which others are judged, we have wandered down a dangerous path of legalism.

When we look at this issue of how we dress for church, I simply cannot find anywhere in Scripture where what we wear is considered a sacrifice or an offering to God. And when I read through the book of James, I come away feeling that how we treat those who are poor among us is a much better indicator of our maturity than the way we dress. Why have we made expensive clothes the litmus test for Spiritual maturity and orderly worship! I know there are standards of decency and modesty that must be adhered to, but shouldn’t we be more concerned about becoming disciples of Jesus? I understand that many churches say that all are welcome, but perception is reality in most cases, and the perception of outsiders is that they are not welcome to attend unless they have expensive and fancy clothes.

In my previous post, I stated that this is a secondary issue, and I still believe that to be the case. My prayer is that we will focus more on what the Bible actually says, and recognize our own presuppositions that we bring into discussions like these.

and yes, for those of you who don’t believe I own a tie, the picture above is proof that I do 🙂




I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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4 Responses

  1. steveharrison says:

    “And when I read through the book of James, I come away feeling that how we treat those who are poor among us is a much better indicator of our maturity than the way we dress.” “I know there are standards of decency and modesty that must be adhered to, but shouldn’t we be more concerned about becoming disciples of Jesus?” 2 great thoughts Mike and oh so true…I think of the many folks who walk through our doors that would never be accepted at some churches, I recognize and have seen tremendous life change in many…in fact what stands out to me the most is as many of these who may not wear their ‘sunday best’ or look the part are accepted and become a part of the ‘C’hurch, they are more passionate about living out and sharing their new found faith with their friends, many who are not Christ followers…they have influence with these, invite them and the cycle potentially repeats itself…thanks for the great reminder and a picture of our great God’s redemptive power…

  2. Sam Bartlett says:

    Engaging post. Two initial comments. 1. Casual is not necessarily inexpensive. Some “casual” churches are led by men and women wearing designer jeans and shirts that the “poor” can not afford.
    2. Many dress up for church not out of legalism, but out of grateful hearts for what Christ has done for them. Modesty seems to be the only Biblical mandate regarding attire. A heart for evangelism mightlogically motivate some churches to dress differently than others in order to reach those God has called them to reach.

  3. I just had to share this on my own blog. Being one of those who didn’t go to church for a long time because of not having the right clothes and not really knowing how to dress I am so thankful to have found my church where the priority is serving God rather than looking good or fitting in with some image of how I’m supposed to look.

    I used to notice what everyone wore and try to determine if my clothes were good enough at previous churches. I realized the other day that I don’t even notice what people are wearing now. Instead I see my brothers and sisters in Christ. I see the expressions on their faces, whether it looks like they’re having a great day or something is weighing upon them. For someone like me with major social anxiety starting to see that we are all children of God helps ease the fear I feel around others.

  1. July 6, 2011

    […] >Giving God our Best | FaithEngineer I had to share a link to this post from one of my favorite blogs. I know I’m not the only one who has missed, avoided or been uncomfortable in church because of the dress-up factor. For years I wanted to go to church but didn’t because not only didn’t I have appropriate clothes, but I never did really learn how to “dress up.” I always feel like I got it all wrong when I try. And I still have no idea how the whole shoes and purse matching the dress thing works. I don’t think I have ever given a thought to what I am wearing when I worship at Life Way Church. I try to make sure I have clean clothes and hopefully a shirt without cat claw holes or a stain on it, but once I’m dressed it doesn’t even enter my mind. Modesty should be my standard no matter where I am, so I don’t need a separate wardrobe for worship. Sometimes I feel I should make my best effort to look good for God, but what I get from the Bible is that women shouldn’t be overly concerned with fancy dress and ornaments. Even braided hair or excessive make-up or perfume. Hopefully I’m not just interpreting what I want it to say because I’m a blue jeans, tennis shoes and t-shirt kind of gal. Make-up? Granted it would make big difference in my looks, but what a waste of time. Not to mention the itchy eyes. And it doesn’t matter how much or how little time I spend on the hair–it always looks like I forgot to brush it. My best for God is prayer and thanksgiving. Doing my best to serve Him. Making sure I take the time to read the Bible and learn and understand His Word and apply it to my life. Not that I have any issue with those who like to dress for church. If you enjoy dressing up as a way to show your respect and love of the Lord then go for it. It’s only when the clothes issue takes away from our focus on God that it becomes a problem. Just my opinion of course. […]

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