Casual Christianity | Part Two

August 22, 2016

by Dr. William F. Harrell

*This post was taken from Dr. Harrell’s website and is used by permission

This casual approach is also affecting the preachers and staff people. Many preachers and music men stand before their church each Sunday dressed in a way that my school teachers would not have tolerated and would have sent me home to change. My mother used to make me get new jeans if a hole came in the knee. “Boy, you can’t wear those jeans to school, they look terrible”, she would say. But, the casual, contemporary philosophy is that one cannot “reach” the people unless they are like them. Quite frankly, from what I have witnessed, those church leaders who hold that philosophy are insulting their members. Are they saying that they dress sloppily because their church members dress the same way? Sounds to me like they are. The people of the world are looking for an example, not for someone like them. Unsaved sinners are sick of who and what they are and they are looking for something different….something to change their lives both spiritually and socially. They are made comfortable with who and what they are when they see pastors, staff and church people who don’t seem to be concerned with what they are projecting. I am weary of being expected to condone the idea that the casual model is setting the right example and is acceptable. What does the lost person who is looking for an elevation of his life think when he sees a preacher on the platform looking like he just washed his dog, put on a sloppy coat, left his long shirt tail hanging below his coat hem and rushed to the church to preach? When the preacher and staff project the casual approach to Christianity that is what the people will adopt. Everything rises or falls on leadership and that is why a leader must make sure that he does not project the wrong thing.

The way people dress to attend church these days is downright dishonoring to God. When the pastor bites the bait of casual dress, it results in casual actions which breed a casual approach to God. Of course many in the contemporary movement will say, “God is interested in what’s on the inside more than He is interested on the outside” Oh, really? Does one mean to say that because God cares about what’s on the inside that He does not care about the outside and how we come before Him? If one were called and asked to be in the Oval Office within two days what do you think they would do? If they did not have a suit and tie they would go to the expense of buying one so that they could go into the presence of the President of the United States properly attired. But these same people think it is permissible to come before the God of the universe in worship looking like they would not go before the President. I think we should wear the best we have to come before God. I told the people of our church that if a tee shirt and jeans are the best they have, wash them, iron them and wear them to church. That is just fine. But if the best thing one has is a fine tailored suit then don’t wear the tee shirt and jeans. How can the pastor be a proper spiritual role model for others unless he sets the proper example himself?

In the Old Testament God was very particular as to how the people constructed the Tabernacle. He outlined it specifically and the people followed his instructions. When it came time to give the instructions on how the Priest should be clothed, he designed the wardrobe very specifically. He told them how the head piece should be made. He designed the breastplate very intricately as well. The garment of the Priest was designed a certain way because that is the way God wanted the Priest to come before him. Now, why is that? It is because He is God and He can require anything of us that He desires. When He speaks, that settles it. The same God is on the same throne and He has not changed His mind about how we come before Him. Of course, if the object of the worship experience is the people and how they feel about things then the dress down code is just fine. Whatever makes one comfortable is the order of the day. But, if the object of the worship experience is focused on God then we are faced with a different set of expectations. And, we must admit, that if He is not the focus then it is only an event and not true worship.

What Jesus did on the cross was not casual and it should be honored for what it was and is: the act of God whereby it was made possible for us to be taken from darkness to Light; from being lost to being saved. It is the most profound thing ever performed on planet earth and should be honored as such. This does not mean that our people should attend worship wringing their hands, bowed over with faces depicting grief; somber in all we do. But it does mean that we should give the worship of our Lord far more honor than we are giving it today.

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Andy

I’m sorry, but I just think there is a lot of misplaced presuppositions and poor logic going on here.

1. In the OT, God did specify how people were approach him, and did not want people making it up themselves…but wearing a suit & tie is absolutely a man-made tradition…not wrong, but not required by God. A such it fall under the category of things scripture SIMPLY DOES NOT ADDRESS, and so like Paul in 1 Corinthains & Romans, we are not permitted to tell other Chrsitians they are “dishonoring God” when they have not violated any of God’s scriptural commands: Whether food, or holy days, or clothes…we are told not to condemn our fellow brothers for things God has not forbidden.

2. If it were somehow proven in 3rd Corinthians that God required us to wear our best to Sunday Worship, then surely some people should be wearing a tuxedo if they have it, according to this logic?

3. The whole idea that a NT worship service is primarily about “approaching God” is contrary to the New Covenant in Christ’s blood, whereby the curtain is torn, and every believer has access to the Father 24/7. We don’t go to church to “approach God.” He is already with us. We go to gather with other believers for Teaching, prayer, fellowship, and breaking of bread (acts 2). Since Jesus Resurrection, we are not called to approach God with ritual or special dress.

4. Unsaved sinners do not need a fancy-dressed Christian role-model to live up to. They need a crucified & risen Savior to cast their sin upon.

    Josh

    Andy,

    I was trying to put a response in my head but you beat me to it with a much clearer response than I would have come up with. Well done!

      Andy

      Yes, I hope I am not coming across to strongly in these last 2 articles. I definetly do not have all the answers to the way everyone should do church, but having grown up in a church where the pastor thought you should only preach in a suit, tie, and WHITE shirt (no blue or gray shirts), I have grown increasingly wary of those who seek to call out other people for “sins” that scripture does not address as such. There are plenty of sins God warns us about that we all need to flee from and fight against. Wearing blue jeans to church isn’t one of them (especially if they are “dress” jeans…I wouldn’t wear my “work” jeans to church! :-)

      I believe we head down a dangerous path when we start adding sins to the ones God has spoken of. I believe it undermines the sufficiency of scripture. I reject the ultra-conservative traditionalism for the same reason I reject the reformed “regulative principle.” The Normative principle seems to more faithfully honor scriptures sufficiency, while allowing for different applications in areas not addressed in scripture.

        Josh

        I don’t believe you came off as too strong. I think you have done a good job of pointing out what is tradition and preference. I grew up in a church where you dressed up for Sunday morning, more casual sunday night, and even more casual for Wednesday and you were judged for the wrong clothes in the morning. I reject that that with you. It’s not found in Scripture, it is arbritrary and cultural. Do the Chinese in house churches dress up in their sunday best? Are africans in the bush? What if I have a tux? Is my thrift store suit better than my 200 jeans and expensive polo? (Btw, don’t have either) Maybe I think somebodies suit is sloppier than my hands and button up.
        The examples about meeting the president and governors are also dictated by culture. If the prez wabted to golf with me I would wear golf attire. If its a black the event I would wear a tux. Dressing up for church is no longer a cultural thing in many communities just like it is no longer a cultural norm to dress up for flights. Ok. Im done:)

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Tell that to Ananias and Sapphire.

    Even those who thought about joining the movement, just to get in to fit in, said No, we’ll take a pass. His presence is still Holy three times over in the assembly. Yes He’s in the believer but don’t get it twisted He is Holy in the assembly of One.

    They had already lied to the Holy Ghost before they left the house.

    The “Tares”dared to join. What a picture, what a contrast to New Church here in America and some parts of the world.

    Preach!

      Andy

      I’m sorry Dennis, If you are replying to my comment, I don’t really understand the point you are making. Don’t lie to God? we all agree on that.

      We actually also agree that we should not think of God in a casual way, or fail to give him the honor and respect he deserves. We disagree that a man wearing jeans to church (if he has dress pants in the closet) is automatically doing that.

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        The point is Biblical, the assembly is not only to be in Christ but also appear in Him before His presence as He was in the world, Holy.

        The Only comparison the lost world has to the Son of Man here on earth now in the flesh, is supposed to be His blood bought Church. He told Saul of Taurus in no Uncertain terms, You are persecuting Me. There should be a difference in our walk, talk, dress and music etc. The lost ought to see, hear, and divinely sense something different about His Church in worship, at work as well as in the world.

        For Heavens sake Andy, we are in the world but not to be of the world.

        Holiness is not a denomination but rather our behavior and appearance in His Church here in this wicked world.

        We deceive ourselves and lie to God if we think nothing matters such as music and dress etc.in His Church. We lie to the Holy Ghost if those of us twice born from above think we can come together looking like the unrepentant TARES, all dressed down like the Devil’s crowd.

        Yet we dress up for jobs, without all of above reasoning, dress adequately for the military, without defending our personal opinions about dress codes in the service. However in God’s House we come before His presence dressed
        like we just left a hoodlums rally or the club. By the way, some don’t change garments from Saturday night partying and they roll up in God’s House looking the rest who hold this viewpoint, Club Church!

        Put ye on Christ doesn’t mean dress as though we are of world.

        Here it is Andy, His Word explicitly says modesty expressing Godliness.

        Preach!

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        And having an high priest over the house of God;
        “Let us draw near” with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

        Now Andy, what we put on should express Christ in our hearts unto Godliness as we approach Him in God’s House as I said before.

        Preach!

          Andy

          I full agree that we should dress modestly and appropriately at all times. I disagree that this means wearing our best to gathered worship. Josh’s example of the old tradition of relaxed dress on Sunday evenings and Wednesday’s points to even formal churches not being strict about that. Is Sunday morning more holy than Sunday night?

          If we were called to wear our best, then for some that would be a tuxedo.

          You said, “For Heavens sake Andy, we are in the world but not to be of the world”.

          True, but we are not called to be unlike the world in every way we can imagine. That’s ridiculous. The world drives cars and uses elecrltricity and eats hamburgers, and often wears suits. We are called to be different in the ways scripture tells us.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    The immoral person has several outward signs suggesting Who and what they are all about. Now when that crowd shows up, they should Stand out not Fit in.

    9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

    10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

    11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

    12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

    Wouldn’t it be something for the IMMORAL WOMAN to leave the fellowship saying, “Did you see what the pastor’s wife had on, her dress was HIGHER THAN MINE”!
    “These woman show more skin here than the Law allow”.

    Preach!

    Bill Harrell

    Sorry, but you have missed the point altogether.

      Andy

      Dr. Harrell,

      I apologize if I have missed the point, but really seems as if your point in your middle paragraph is that if a person has a fine tailored suit, bit chosen to wear something more casual to church, that they are “dishonoring God.”. I don’t really know how else to respond to that.

      If that is not what you are saying, perhaps you can clarify.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Thanks be to God, casual won’t be “over yonder”.
Perhaps we could learn something from the Old Testament that will be not so Ole fashion in Eternity. It appears we will dress fitting for the duration of eternity.

There must be a distinction between the Church and this lost world.

You wouldn’t think going before your man or woman in the Governors mansion casual or as stated above the Oval Office with your favorite in power.

If chance you do, see Ye to that!
Preach!

Jim Poulos

I started in a Church and wasn’t wearing a tie. The person who leads the singing told me he never came to church without a tie since he was a child.
This person was is the marines and was on the first wave going onto the shores of Iwo Jima in WW II.

Since then I always wear a tie going to Church.

The math problems are getting harder and harder to post here. Is this going toward Calculus?

    Andy

    This sounds like it could be, in some settings, a very good reason to wear a tie to church, in honor of our elders and desire not to offend.

    It would be a very BAD and insufficient reason to tell those who were not wearing ties that they were “dishonoring God.”

    Jim Poulos

    The bottom line and will always be that every person is answerable to God and their own conscience not man’s judgment.

    Peace

    At least an easy math problem this time.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Wouldn’t it be something for the IMMORAL WOMAN to leave the fellowship saying, “Did you see what the pastor’s wife had on, her dress was HIGHER THAN MINE”!
The immoral man replies,“These women show more skin here than the Law allow”.

Then the woman says to the man, “THIS IS WHAT THEY NOW CALL CASUAL DRESS”.

He replies, “Really, the Church sure has changed”!

Then they say in unison, “THEY LOOK EXACTLY LIKE US”! “I thought we were still at the Club”.

Huh,
.
Then they laughed together, because thats “too”funny not to!

Preach!

    Andy

    I’m not talking about modesty. I’m talking about blue jeans vs khakis…modest is the same. That’s a different conversation.

    A woman could wear a very fancy, formal outfit and still be immodest, or a very casual outfit and be very modest.

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      If this is about God it’s about Godliness!

      Preach!

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      If we are talking about casual by default we are discussing modesty and godliness. It may not matter to some of us what we look like in the assembly or in the world. Wear your favorite blue jeans, drink your favorite beverage, span the net, blog, text, sleep for what it is worth to you and yours. He’s Only The Sovereign God, Thrice Holy, unapproachable except
      through His Holy Spirit in the name of the Express Image of His Person, His Sovereign Son, who is the King Eternal Immortal, Invisible the Only Wise God.

      Come as you are and remain as you are.

      Preach!

Josh

Dennis,

I think you are going to have to show that we approach God in a church building substantially different than when I approach God when I am lying in bed. And the church building is not God’s house. The church body is His temple. Also, sloppiness and best clothes is an arbitrary judgment made by people with different tastes, cultures, and backgrounds.

Josh

Josh

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Josh,

    The Hebrews passage stated above leading to verse 25.

    I know the building is not God’s House we are.

    When the Church comes together is the term Josh but believe me that’s not the same as personal worship in your bedroom lying across your bed, I can assure you of that.

    I sure hope when you pray in assembly that it’s not a CLOSET PRAYER. There is a difference. There’s individual worship and there is also when the Local New Testament Church comes together for worship etc, in His presence and sight.

    Where 2 or more are gathered together in My name, I am in the midst thereof.

    What if we don’t gather together in His name even though we have His Spirit abiding so gently within?

    Preach!

      Andy

      I will be the first to argue and admit that there IS A DIFFERENCE WHEN we gather together to worship God, but extra formality of dress is not a difference one will find in scripture. In fact, in addition to the first day of the week, scripture says the church met DAILY. I doubt they dressed up for each of those house gatherings of 2 or 3 or 10. Yet God was just as much present.

      The difference is that instead of personal prayer we have corporate voice and mutual edification, teach and admonishing one another with song and prayer and word and fellowship.

linda

This is post worth considering. Now, I agree with some that navy polyester is not inherently more God honoring than navy denim. I see that.

But on the other hand, I do know that when schools use uniforms to elevate standards learning improves. What we see as important we honor, including by our clothing and grooming. I live where weather can get extremely cold and windy so admit I often wear jeans to church in winter. But then again, here, unfaded pressed jeans are considered dressing “up” compared with the sagging and bagging, tattoed, pierced, purple Mohawk tank topped grannies the unchurched sport.

The principle is sound: dress to honor God. This meeting is maybe the most important thing to happen in our community this week. It may have eternal consequences. So don’t dress like you are just running to the garbage dump and stopping by wallyworld.

Fashions can change without becoming sinful. A man in pressed dark jeans, sport shirt, and sweater today conveys the import a suit and tie did in the 50’s.

Good thoughts!

Les

Dis anyone see this?

Bill Harrell 22-08-2016, 16:05
“Sorry, but you have missed the point altogether.”

Jon Estes

Let’s keep finding message to keep people out of church.
Don’t come dressed wrong.
We may not say it when you show up, but we will be judging you.
You can count on it.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    That is no longer an excuse for the world not to come. We are looking at the end of that era in the rear view mirror.

    Preach!

      Jon Estes

      “That is no longer an excuse for the world not to come. We are looking at the end of that era in the rear view mirror.”

      Maybe – Maybe not. It is still one I heard often before I moved overseas. The church I was at, at the time had a statement in their by-laws that one could not take up the offering unless they were wearing a coat and tie. So it is true of some… maybe many… churches out there that demand, even if only by silent judgment towards what people wear.

      At least make it about doctrine. When one does this it makes me think of all those who make a fuss today because they are offended by someone elses behavior – comments – beliefs… Grow up people, not everything is an offense to God.

      When Jesus called thedisciples, those four fishermen, no where does He state that they had to get rid of the fishermen clothes, smell… to follow and spend time with Him. He simply said, follow me. I believe we can do that in jeans and a t-shirt if the community can be reached as a result.

      I remember, slightly, Jerry Falwell saying he did not like rap music but if it can be used to reach those who do – use it. I also can’t remember him ever not in suit and tie.

      In conclusion, there are enough churches out there for both – formal and not so formal. Mark 9:38-39

Dennis Lee Dabney

Other than this discussion here, those of us who hold to a more traditional style of worship, don’t have the desire nor time to judge clothing here where I serve the Lord while ministering to His people.

After my radical conversion in 1990, I returned to our rural home church. I didn’t own a suit as I did as a child attending that fellowship. I was a business manager at that time so I wore slacks and what my wife called my selection of Archie Bunker white dress shirts while sitting on the second row with the children and youth. I eventually purchased some suits but remained there on that row and the third row near our little ones until the Lord got us up out of there. For some reason most of the men sat on the row left of the center aisle near the back.

We were a dress up assembly up until our new pastor arrived in 96. He introduced casual to the largest rural assembly east of the capital city. He gave out some parameters and guidelines. Don’t you know some of the same restrictions, some of the same garments showed up hanging of persons.

The music had already changed, the volume increased. He brought in praise dancers, steppers, etc.

Factor the eisegetical messages and the strong arm tactics to get what he wanted from country folk who probably would have given those things to him eventually.

Little did I know that I was conservative Fundamentalist before we even left, well before seminary.

I watched that same fellowship come apart at the seams before he found a larger more prestigious church to pastor. After his departure they brought in the one who would leave the Church with members to start another fellowship. Now they have a woman as their leader, women deacons etc.

I go back to the God called man who after the heart of God, leads His people in sound doctrine and expository preaching. When God’s people can hardly wait to hear the word taught and the gospel preached, clothing matter because He will be the Last to cloth all of the True believer and we’ll be dressed alike.

No one attends our fellowship because of music or the type of clothing, I can assure you of that
Those who come by even of the street here in Richmond know we are a fellowship that will if we could, love them to life.

Folk come and yes they go but the message has more to do with that than anything else.

When upon request to preach in the traditional black Church I still where my robes. Other than that in our fellowship I wear mainly three piece suites.

PreachBlackManPreach has been known to shed his coat from time to time in the moment or for youth day.

I do nothing else in my robes. They are dedicated to the gospel for His service and glory.

Not one of my suits used for ministry have gone into the club, party atmosphere or any such place. That’s my position in this discussion.
I have a sweat towel, with Pastor on it, which I use exclusively for the Lord’s service within the assembly.

Preach!

linda

I once had the very unpleasant experience of visiting a church where the pastor spent 40 minutes BEFORE the sermon chewing out the congregation over clothing. He was of the opinion that the ladies in east Texas where he grew up, in the 50’s, were going to be held accountable for sending people to hell. Their sin? Wearing hats, gloves, and stockings to church. HMM–in that era, they wore them to shop! Didn’t complain about men in the 50’s in suits and ties. What sparked it was he had preached a funeral and worn a suit. Someone commented it looked good on him, he figured they meant his usual cargo pants and t shirts were not good enough, and the rant was on. He made it plain he was gonna call out any skirt or dress wearing ladies (again, no complaints on suit wearing men!)

As you may have guessed we chose a different church to join.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Good move and I’m sure you haven’t looked back to see how that wreck turned out.

    Preach!

Donald Morgan

James 2 NKJV

2 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

    Jim Poulos

    In the 1 and 2 Century Church, when a wealthy well dressed man walked into the Church the poorest person in the church would welcome him. When a man of poverty and poorly dressed walked in, the most important person in the Church would welcome him.

    Sometimes the old days were the better days.

Dennis Lee Dabney

This discussion isn’t about preferring the rich over the poor, wealth verses the treatment of the impoverished.

Preach!

Robert

What do folks here think of this video about “worship”?

https://www.facebook.com/parkcommunitychurch/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

    Robert

    scroll down to the guy wearing a green shirt with a guitar. The video points out problems with some worship music.

      Robert

      The video with the heading “Do you ever stop to think about what the words actually mean at church?”

        Andy

        We just sang that this past Sunday!!! ;-)

    Les

    Robert, I think they are exaggerating to make a larger point. The words we sing to God do matter. Thanks for sharing this.

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