Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ramblings on what we wear to "church"

I found this post in Scott McKnight's blog interesting as of late I have been thinking about clothing and how I / we dress. It has come about due to a Ladies Meeting coming up soon where one member will be giving a talk on dressing (Fashion, colour coordination etc). As I make the announcements each Sunday, I could not help but think that living in NZ in a country where we have different seasons allows women (and men too) to have a greater variety of dress styles. And I do appreciate that that is a pleasant thing (to the eye)

Anyway here's McKnights' post first (at least his has spiritual content! :-)) and my reflections later ...


Faith in Jesus Christ implicates a person in his way of life. Here is a sketch, a caricature that delves at the same time in the depths of the ordinary:

James 2:2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Clothing matters in the world; clothing speaks. It speaks of status and wealth and power and strength and potential. And it clothing tempts church leaders and Christians into thinking that the well-dressed person would be of use and help to the church. The shabbily-dressed woman or man, the homeless, speak something else: no status and no wealth and no power and no strength and no potential. And it tempts church leaders and Christians into thinking that the shabby fellow is of no use.

A question: How does clothing speak in our churches today?
A point: how you treat the shabbily-dressed reveals whether or not you treat the person the way Jesus would treat them. He welcomes them. Do you?


  1. I wonder how cultural is our thinking on dressing up. In Asian culture, dressing smartly conveys the impression of authority, competence and prosperity. However I wonder what impression does this convey to a casually dress culture? Does it alienate them, reminding them how different Asians are? I am interested to know your perception as you minister in an international church.

  2. Hi Doc!


    Hmmm... the older pakeha (white, European descent) Kiwi members like it when I dress smartly for church. This was the main reason why I wear a shirt and tie (and coat as well) when the weather is not too warm) when I preach in church. I know this because they mention this to me. Same with a few older Indians (originally from Fiji)

    When I am not preaching, I do not wear a tie. But for me now I have settled into wearing shirts to church - whether long or short sleeved. I suppose one issue is that it makes the pastor look neat and "more professional"?

    Or if I feel like it, I wear something "ethnic" and all members seem to like it (from the feedback). So I get wear stuff like my range of batik shirts or my formal Cambodian shirts or even my Indian style shirt (which is semi-casual). But members seem to like it (or perhaps accept it with no fuss)as we are an international church :-)

    Guest preachers (pakeha)dress quite causally except for some of the older ones (60 plus) who would wear a shirt in summer or a coat in colder seasons (but it tends to be more casual sports jacket and no tie).

    I have chosen to follow suit in my few forays to other churches (but will stick to coat and tie if it is a Sunday morning preaching occasion)