Since I keep talking about the things that the black church taught me, I guess I should mention the one thing that it taught me without using words.
Church IS different.
Church is not Sunday afternoon in the park with George. It is not a day at the mall. It is not a day at the playground…or the beach…or hanging out with friends at the neighborhood cafe.
Church is not like any other place that you go to or experience in your life. And since it’s not like any other place or experience, you should treat it like it is different.
The reason I said that “if I could have one rule” it would be about not wearing blue jeans in church is because I believe that clothing conveys an attitude. And the way I see too many people dressing for church conveys, to me, the attitude that they don’t care about the time and attention and effort that any number of people have put into creating that worship experience. What would the parishioners at the church where I’m interning think I felt about them if I showed up on any given Sunday in my overalls that have paint stains on them, a frayed t-shirt and my everyday tennis shoes with my hair barely combed? (if any of them are reading this I hope they know that that situation will never happen) So if it’s ok for parishioners to come to church having paid little attention or intention to their dress, what does that say to those of us who are trying to create a truly worshipful experience? Don’t the clothes you wear to church deserve the same time, attention and respect that you give to the clothes you wear to have lunch with your friends after church?
I’ll clarify this a little more…I am only talking about the hour to hour-and-a-half that you spend in church on Sunday (or Saturday for those of you who do church on Saturday). If you’re coming to the church on Tuesday evening or Thursday afternoon–that’s a different story. You’re there for a different reason. But Church is different. And I don’t apologize for thinking that it’s different or for hoping that other people would see it as different too.
(All my thoughts about clothes and church are flexible. I’m not asking anybody to be decked out to the nines with the winter most of the country is having.)