Mike Cope's blog

Friday, January 27, 2006

My Five Suits I don't usually preach with a coat and tie now. Coats make me hot, and I've never liked ties. I still wear them at times, but not often. Not trying to be cool, just prefer that, and it seems to fit our changing church. But there was a time when I preached in suits: the College Church in the 1980s. When I went to try out there in March of 1984, I didn't own a suit. One reason is that I was fashion-challenged. But another reason is that we were budget-challenged. I was being paid $18K at our congregation, Diane didn't work outside the home, and we had two kids. I don't resent that a bit; I would guess that probably fit right into the church's membership. But my dad pointed out that I should probably preach in a suit at the College Church. I was just 27, and he knew I shouldn't dress like a university student. So he bought me two suits. I wore one in the morning and one in the evening the Sunday I tried out. When I arrived in Searcy, I needed another suit or two. So Dirk Smith, a Harding student and the son of our campus ministers, drove me to Horn's in Little Rock. Anyone ever heard of Horn's (or remember those frightening commercials)? I paid either fifty bucks each, or maybe it was fifty for both. (Dirk, are you out there? Do you remember?) So now I had four suits. All right, two of them may not have been exactly Hickey Freeman quality. But they worked. My fifth suit came from an older man whom I've always admired named Virgil Lawyer. Virgil spent his life preaching and teaching history at Harding. His students felt like they were there for the actual battles when they heard Virgil talk about the Civil War. He and Lou are one of my favorite couples ever. He called me one day and said he'd like to take me shopping. I didn't know what that meant, but I loved the idea of a day with Virgil. We drove over to North Little Rock, and he picked out a nice suit that he bought me. He told me that when he was a young minister an older man bought him a suit when he couldn't afford one, simply asking him to do the same for another young minister later in life. Of those five suits I had in the mid-eighties, four are long gone. But the one Virgil bought me still hangs in my closet. I just can't turn loose of it.


  • This reminds me of an eighties story about a "Pharasee" shirt under a suit.
    I think you used it to illustrate several sermons.
    Shirts go to the cleaners now and he does not wear suits either much.

    By Blogger kim, at 1/27/2006 04:39:00 AM  

  • What a wonderful tradition....are you going to keep it up in our new "suit-less" society?

    By Blogger DJG, at 1/27/2006 04:58:00 AM  

  • I haven't worn a suit or a tie to worship in quite a while myself, but I think all of us "young preachers" are thankful for brothers like Virgil, and have many stories about "suits."

    By Blogger CL, at 1/27/2006 05:01:00 AM  

  • Ah, our dear friend Kim is relating a story about her husband I've told several times. Also in the eighties, most students were dressing up for church--coats and ties for the guys.

    We invited the two of them over for lunch after morning services shortly after they began dating. When it was time to eat, he wouldn't take his jacket off. He explained to me privately that he'd been in a hurry that morning, so he had only ironed the small part of the shirt that is visible with a coat on! That's a great memory, Kim.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/27/2006 05:29:00 AM  

  • I have heard the argument for dressing up to go to church because God wants our best, but I just don't agree with that. I think when we dress up, it makes it harder for the poorer among us to fit in. I like that my church is more casual & although I have been known to wear a dress on occassion, I feel more like myself when I come to God in my blue jeans.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/27/2006 05:36:00 AM  

  • But can you still FIT that suit in your closet?

    By Blogger KathyGS, at 1/27/2006 06:03:00 AM  

  • Chad irons like that all the time. And our car stays full of ties that he yanks off as soon as we get in the car after church on Sunday mornings.

    He came back from NCYM with a T-shirt that says "These ARE My Church Clothes."

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/27/2006 06:04:00 AM  

  • "ALLLL the best dressed men!"

    That was the tag line of Horn's, spoken by Mae Horn through the fog of many, MANY years of smoking. She was our patient at the doctor's office where I worked, and was a nice, sweet old lady.

    Alas, Ms. Horn passed away a few years ago and now the store is closed. Downtown Little Rock can't sustain many businesses if you're not willing to be in the River Market area, and even then, it's iffy.

    By Blogger Lisa, at 1/27/2006 06:04:00 AM  

  • NOTE TO HIGHLAND MEMBERS: We have about a dozen (free) tickets for tomorrow night's missions dinner. It will be at 6:30 at the Briarstone. If you can use them, please call the church office.

    Don't forget that the annual missions special is this Sunday!

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/27/2006 06:09:00 AM  

  • Virgil Lawyer was one of my favorite teachers at Harding. His civil war class was amazing. As a part of the class, we went to Vicksburg and Shiloh. Professor Lawyer was an excellent tour guide!

    I can imagine that the college students that you were preaching to at the time thought that you were a cool dresser, just like they thought you were a lot taller. :)

    By Blogger David Michael, at 1/27/2006 06:21:00 AM  

  • I had Virgil my last semester at harding and I remember liking him a lot, but I was ready to be out of school and I doubt I appreciated the class nearly as much as I would now.

    And I do remember the Horn's commercials. yes, a little frightening when I was a child.

    By Blogger Greg, at 1/27/2006 06:41:00 AM  

  • The blessing about being the youth minister is you didn't have to wear a suit and I didn't get my first one until a couple from church bought be a Ralph Lauren Navy Penstripe. Then the next one I bought myself was about 10 years ago.

    The sad part is they are seriously Marrying and Burying them suits.

    By Blogger happytheman, at 1/27/2006 06:44:00 AM  

  • That is so sweet. I love the Virgils in the world...
    I love it that you preachers don't have to wear suits anymore and that my son gets up on Sunday morning excited to go to church and slaps on a pair of shorts and a polo shirt to go worship. I grew up with people telling me you dress up in your finest to go meet God. Well, that just didn't jive with me.It was just one more standard to live up to.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/27/2006 06:55:00 AM  

  • While I applaud our trend to make worship services more loose and casual because I do think it makes them more inclusive and comfortable for visitors, I have a problem with being dismissive of the "God wants our best" attitude.

    I mean, he gave us HIS best. How can we do any less?

    By Blogger Lisa, at 1/27/2006 07:15:00 AM  

  • It's not everyday you get to read about a co-worker and your father-in-law on somebody's blog. Especially YOUR blog! I know they both will appreciate your kind words, and both are very deserving.
    Well, at least Virgil is. :)


    By Blogger David U, at 1/27/2006 07:17:00 AM  

  • Ah, Horn's, Virgil Lawyer, having the greatest job in the world, and listening to you preach. All great memories for me and my family. It was a time of spiritual formation and little kids. And you wearing a suit. Wouldn't trade those times for anything.

    By Blogger drjimwhite, at 1/27/2006 07:18:00 AM  

  • Lisa, I also don't want to let go of the idea that "God wants our best." I just don't think that wearing our most "show-offy" duds to church represents that. God, who looks at the inward person, probably isn't too concerned with how nice our clothing is. So far as it represents showing respect to our fellow church-goers, that's fine. But we ought to be able to express such things without worrying about our clothing.

    Me, I take great care to make sure my Sunday-go-to-meetin' Hawaiian shirt is clean and reasonably wrinkle-free. If I'm not wearing one, people wonder what's wrong... seriously!

    By Blogger Tim Castle, at 1/27/2006 07:26:00 AM  

  • Lisa - My opinion is that our "best" is our best hearts & NOT our best clothes. I also think the sacrifices God wants more from us now (as opposed to Old Testament times) are the sacrifices of the heart, and worshipping with our hearts.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/27/2006 07:28:00 AM  

  • One of the blessings of being a woman is not having to wear a suit and tie! (Of course, one of the curses is panty hose, so maybe it evens out.)

    At church about a month ago one of my teenage sons was taken to task by another teenager about his clothes. After arguing about it for a while the other teen basically agreed that God didn't care but said the other church members did. He said that my son was letting the other members down who expected him to put on his best clothes. I guess our whole family must be letting the congregation down in this respect - my son was dressed in exactly the same way as the rest of the family - not a suit or pair of panty hose in the bunch.

    Maybe since the buying of suits for new preachers is not really the same thing now as it was years ago, it could morph into buying sets of commentaries or something like that.

    By Blogger reJoyce, at 1/27/2006 07:42:00 AM  

  • I threw out all my pantyhose when I quit working and moved to Houston. What freedom! In the winter (all two weeks of it), I wear socks and boots to church. And the socks don't have to match!

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/27/2006 07:43:00 AM  

  • I'm sure it was $50 for both based on three factors. 1) How they looked 2) Your budget 3) The fine establishment they were purchased from. I had forgotten that trip until you reminded me of it at Stream this past year. Virgil Lawyer...I'd hang on to that suit too. Good man.

    By Blogger TDSmith, at 1/27/2006 07:48:00 AM  

  • Mike, Your comments about Daddy made me cry! He & Mom love you so much, miss you so much, & are your staunchest defenders at HU!Daddy has always said that he wants you to come & do his funeral when his time comes to go be with God. They listen to ALL your tapes, & have especially told everyone about your "Women in Worship" CD. Thank you, & the others too, who have posted nice things about Daddy today. He'll get the biggest kick out of it when either David U or Alice Ann prints it off for him(doesn't own a computer). Love you & can't wait to hear you, Randy & others at Pepperdine this year!

    By Blogger annie, at 1/27/2006 07:49:00 AM  

  • Shoot, lost my post. AND IT WAS BRILLIANT. Let's see if I can replicate it.

    I believe that our outward appearance IS a reflection of our inward self. Is it the only one, or even the main one? No, but it is. I don't wear halter tops. Does God really care if I have on a halter top, if my heart is with him? I mean, it's just clothes.

    When I was at Harding, I was in Chorale. We were not allowed to wear jeans at all, ever, while we were representing the University. The girls could wear pants, but they had to be nice dressy pants not just colored jeans.

    Did we balk at this? OH, YEAH. We murmured and complained like the Israelites, except we had Cliff Ganus as a leader, not a loving God, and there was no moving him. ;)

    He explained that when you're dressed nicely, you 1) act better, and that's true, you do; and 2) you are telling your audience that you respect them enough to put your best out there.

    When I talk to people who are dismissive of wearing "church clothes" I ask them, "Would you wear to a funeral or a wedding what you wear on Sunday morning?" Nine times out of ten, the answer is, "Well, of course not. But that's different."

    Why is it different? You're showing respect for the occasion when you dress for a wedding or a funeral. Doesn't God deserve that same respect? Don't your fellow Christians?

    Look, I'm not saying that wearing jeans and a t-shirt to church is sending ANYONE to Hell. But I think we need to look within and ask ourselves what we're saying by what we wear.

    By Blogger Lisa, at 1/27/2006 08:11:00 AM  

  • No suits anymore? Back in the 80's, did you give an "invitation" every Sunday?
    I'm with you Mike. I hate wearing a suit and tie when preaching.
    It might just be me trying to form excuses for not wearing them, but I feel that it can be oppressive at times--especially when we are trying to embody the missional concept.

    By Blogger Josh Ross, at 1/27/2006 08:36:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Just Wondering, at 1/27/2006 08:41:00 AM  

  • hmmm...if I could imagine God making a comment on this subject, I wonder if it would sound something like: "You spent all that money on a suit/dress to COME to church instead of BEING church and giving that money to someone that really needs it...."
    Just wondering

    My humble opion: God doesn't care what you wear to church....of course we should be modest in and out of the church building but that isn't the point of this discussion. I don't think wearing your "Sunday Best" to the church building reflects your respect for God or the Christians around you, I think it reflects a habit and tradition, mostly. I completely agree with the others that "dressing to the nines" can make it easy for the poor/stict budget group feel out of place and THAT is very disrespectful to God and hopefully offensive to the thinking Christian....in my opinion.
    Mr. Cope, LOVE your blog...miss Highland!

    By Blogger Just Wondering, at 1/27/2006 08:46:00 AM  

  • Hmm...good points Lisa & Just Wondering.

    I'm just thinking....if a prostitue walked into church with her "work clothes" on, would we turn her away? Would we tell her to come back next week when she's dressed more appropriately? Or would we talk with her & get to know her & teach her about Jesus, so that that the change in her clothes came out of the change in her heart?

    Now I know that example is extreme & somewhat unrealistic, but the reason we wear the clothes we wear is because they ARE a reflection of my heart & MINE says that I don't have to spend a lot of money to prove my worth & I'm still dressing modestly to please God.

    If my fellow Christians really respect me, then they will NOT be looking at my clothes to see into my heart.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/27/2006 08:55:00 AM  

  • Beaner, that's just what bothers me. You are right that a "prostitute walking into church" scenario is unrealistic, and that makes me sad. Why is it so unrealistic?

    I never met a homeless man in church, either, but I met a lot when I worked in inner-city Oakland. And let me say that I met a few who wowed me and sustained me with their faith in God. So why aren't they in church? (And as a afterthought, one of them wore about 20 ties at a time, so he, for one, would be "giving God his best.")

    But Lisa, the problem I have with arguing that wearing our "church clothes" to church is "giving God our best" is that BOTH those ideas are relative. Perhaps someone I know can't afford what your church commonly accepts as "church clothes." Even if the members of that church accepts them, I bet they'll feel out of place. Even if they wear their best clothes, they might not "fit in." So how do we handle that? Most churches I know of do it by instituting a more "casual" dress code. (Which gets me wondering: did Jesus have a dress code?)

    By Blogger A. Lo, at 1/27/2006 09:50:00 AM  

  • Looks like Lisa and I are way in the minority here and I realize my age, background and profession have a lot to do with my views, but my views and thoughts about this subject go way beyond those three factors alone. I understand, too, that our culture has really gone casual in about every way, which is being heavily reflected in this current discussion, and I certainly am not in favor of going back to the old very formal traditions of the past, but in my view, it's swung way TOO FAR to the casual and haphazard.

    Lisa makes some very good points about how important dressing for any given situation with respect and appropriately is, even - or especially - when we come before God, whether in a church building, or wherever that is.

    My husband is a newspaper publisher in a relatively small (well, recently way expanded due to Katrina) Mississippi town where most people don't particularly dress up for work. But he wears a suit and tie to work every day, except for "business casual" (which does NOT include jeans for any of the employees) Fridays. He is NOT trying to make people feel less because he is "dressed up," nor does he. He is a business man. A professional. Appropriately dressed for his situation. For him, that includes worhip services, most of the time, too.

    And I wore suits for years in different professions I had, especially when I was still practicing law. Believe me, you did not go to court or show up in front of a judge (and some of them were up there powerfully keeping order in the court and you FELT as if you were coming up before God) as an attorney in anything other than appropriate clothes. For some women attorneys in some courts, it was appropriate dresses or dress slacks and jacket, etc.

    NO ONE came into court unless they were dressed appropriately. NO ONE. Period. And that's absolutely the way it should be. Absolutely. It is a serious thing to come into a court of law. Just as it is a serious thing (should be) to come before God in worship in a place we've set aside and selected to be a building for that exact purpose. Everyone, even strangers and the poor and downcast and trodden, knows what these buildings and these times are for. It's no secret. It's not a casual party at the beach or ballgame. We set aside time, we prepare ourselves (hopefully) mentally, emotionally, spiritually to come before God in this place. I deeply believe we should come dressed moderately, appropriately and respectfully in good clothes. It doesn't have to be our BEST or the latest. It's just as bad to be "over dressed" and/or loaded down with jewelry and bling bling.

    But, on the other hand, I've seen people in worship services that were dressed - the only word to say is disgustingly. And that's when they had much better to choose from and much more appropriate attire they could have worn. Who will be attracted to that? Who will want to know God better or view us as reverent and respectful toward God ourselves because they are so repulsed by how we look?

    I'm not talking about someone who comes in who has nothing better to wear or is in circumstances that they have no control over. Someone mentioned a prostitute coming into a worship service in her street clothes and that we wouldn't want to turn her away. Of course not. But giving her something to cover her mostly bare body with, showing that we have more respect for her than to let her shame herself and so that she could respect herself more by being decent wouldn't be wrong at all, but the thing to do. (I think.)

    People can go to either extreme, and I'm not for THAT one way or the other. That's my main point. We should practice moderation, modesty, respectful dress, language, appropriate dress and behavior for the situation and circumstances. Including worship, as well as in our "everyday" walk with God as His children. Nobody will ever be drawn to Him by Christians who show no respect for Him in all they say and do and are. All of it. Inside the heart and the outside of our bodies. ALL of it. All together.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/27/2006 09:52:00 AM  

  • Mike et al,
    Wonderful comments. I preach in a tie because I know that the congregation would have a hard time if I didn't wear one. I would love to go "tie-less". I hear what everyone is saying about dress. I know we are supposed to give our best to God but I have always wondered what it was like to be in the first-century church with slaves who only wore rags as their best. Should the rich master or member wear their best? Would it humiliate those who had nothing? It also helps us to understand why Paul and Peter were concerned about women over-dressing in the assembly.

    It also makes us ask, do we dress for God on Sundays or should we dress so that we do not cause our brothers and sisters to stumble? As preachers who are visible shouldn't we also ask this?

    By Blogger KMiV, at 1/27/2006 09:58:00 AM  

  • Thank you, Dee. You said what I was trying to say much more eloquently than I did.

    I don't buy expensive clothes. I don't know where the idea that only name-brand expensive clothes can be "nice". Most of my boys' khakis that they wear to church come from Wal-Mart or Goody's.

    Re: the prostitute. If clothes aren't that important, why would she have to change at all?

    By Blogger Lisa, at 1/27/2006 10:00:00 AM  

  • Wow. Not the conversation I expected today. I was thinking of the lavish gift of a beloved older man.

    But that's the great thing about a blog. It has a life of its own.

    Thanks for the spirit in which you're carrying on this conversation, my friends.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/27/2006 10:01:00 AM  

  • Mike -

    I just came from MSN online a second ago and there is an article there about all the children killed in the horrific traffic accident in Lake Butler, Fla. (here) in the Mann family and they are fellow Christians there.

    An 18-wheeler rammed into the back of the van with seven children in it, 5 adopted kids of the Manns and 2 nieces, who were stopped behind a school bus. Their maternal grandfather was so grief stricken when he heard the news he suffered a heart attack and died, too.

    We MUST all remember these dear ones in our prayers and supplications before God on their behalf.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/27/2006 10:01:00 AM  

  • Dee - I saw that yesterday too & I can't even imagine! I like that we can debate an issue & even disagree sometimes while still being brothers & sisters in Christ - & we all know that this stuff becomes so petty in the light of tragedy.

    And so it goes. But....the hard part about this little debate is that it has so many levels! Are we talking about modesty? or personal taste? who decides what "best" is for clothing? are we leading others to stumble?

    Sometimes it's hard to find the line through all the grey!!! But I love to challenge my faith and why we do what we do - it's how I grow!

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/27/2006 10:11:00 AM  

  • Mike, I'm going to go even farther from your original intent...

    I just LOVE a man in a dark charcoal suit, heavy starched white shirt and red tie.

    Come on guys... at least every once in a while!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/27/2006 10:27:00 AM  

  • Could there be a thought here that parallels Paul's teaching on eating meat? Maybe how we dress before the congregation and the LORD is a matter of good conscience and each one should follow that conviction with no condemning those of opposing conviction. The tone of this thread has followed that gentle loving attitude throughout. What a thrill to be a part of God's loving family!!

    Mike, I wonder if you truly know the depth of blessings that come to us from this blog. Thank you, dear brother!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 1/27/2006 11:29:00 AM  

  • My preacher looks like a professional golfer, and I think he was at one time.

    Mike post a photo of the suit.
    I bet it is still in style!

    Loved the story!

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 1/27/2006 11:45:00 AM  

  • Gosh, TL -

    If we're turning to true confessions here now (on your blog, too, Mike) about guys dressed up in good looking suits and ties and freshly pressed, starched shirts (which is what I'll have you guys know I do most graciously and lovingly for my husband all the time, who doesn't think a cleaners can match my perfection and he always wants to look nice), I'll have to second what you said.

    I find that very attractive in men and just love it, too. To me, it tells you a lot about a man by seeing how he dresses and carries himself.

    You guys really would be doing us gals a big favor by dressing up once in a while (and taking us out to dinner and the theater for a good show, if you'd like).

    Mike - I know someone suggested that you should do the same for a deserving young man, only get him some commentaries or something. I think you should pick someone out who really needs it and can use it and wear it well, and buy THEM a suit just as Virgil Sawyer did for you. That would be a wonderful thing to do. Lift their spirits up and give them some confidence in what they are doing.

    Beaner - as for your questions (the hard part about this little debate is that it has so many levels! Are we talking about modesty? or personal taste? who decides what "best" is for clothing? are we leading others to stumble?) - those are all excellent questions and most assuredly some we should explore, study and think in depth about. Maybe back here on your blog, Mike, or another one or in small groups. Somewhere, sometime.

    Those were some of the things I was trying to go more into in what I said. It takes time to delve into such things, though. More time than just what we have here today. But, definitely worth the effort.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/27/2006 11:59:00 AM  

  • Sorry, Mike, I was touched by the story of Virgil then added my little comment about Sam and shorts and clothes at church and well.. Did I sidetrack the whole blog..?I guess I just felt I grew up feeling I had to live up to a God and then when somebody told me it would involve wearing my finest, that just made me feel less...My Mom raised 4 kids by herself and we didn't really have anything in that category....So therein the wall between me and this God who wants me to live up to something was built higher. But now, I just see His smiling face instead of pen in hand waiting for my mess up. Phew...
    Mike Cope, I hope you are preaching on Sunday...we all think you are awesome!!

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/27/2006 12:59:00 PM  

  • I had Virgil Lawyer for Civil War (what a fantastic field trip to the battlefields!) and Geography. He is a great teacher and a great man. I especially remember conversations with him and his wife at the College Church.

    Oh, and regarding the dress thing...I don't like wearing a coat and tie, but usually do for the older folks in our congregation who like to see their preacher dressed in his Sunday Best. But I only wear the coat and tie on Sunday morning.


    By Blogger Jeff Slater, at 1/27/2006 01:49:00 PM  

  • I hope this doesn't come across as condemning - just an observation. Amazing how passionate and varied our opinions are on how we dress.

    Speaking strictly from the men's side - we wore charcoal suits in the 60's (I was a wee-lad, but still had one); leisure suits in the latter 1970's and/or skin-tight polyester slacks; navy suits with heavy starched shirts in the 80's; dockers and blazers in the 90's and I'd call it casual dockers in the 00's thus far. How has Jesus' love for us changed over that time -- or our love for him or our witness for him?

    We just love to talk about US. Maybe we need to get over us, and focus more on Him.

    By Blogger KentF, at 1/27/2006 01:57:00 PM  

  • It's amazing how strongly we feel about our "traditions".
    I used to hate, what my roomate called, the "Sunday fashion Show".
    During this time of searching and rebellion I would drag myself out of bed to go listen to you speak, Mike. I did not go because of what you wore on the outside. I would go because of the Spirit who is inside of you. You have a gift of telling stories. The Lord touched me through your words.
    Thank you Mike. I am a better man because of you.
    Cheryl and I have four children and we have been serving the Lord in Uganda for a little over ten years, now.
    I thank that Lord that you were at College Church during those days. The Lord changed my life while you stood up there in that stuffy suit. Thanks Mike
    Thank you Lord!
    Mike you enfluenced my life and when we get to heaven I want to introduce you to your brothers and Sisters from the Batooro, Bakonjo, Bwamba, Banyoro, Lendu and Hema tribes who are there because of your enfluence.

    By Blogger Jeff Cash, at 1/27/2006 02:03:00 PM  

  • I'm pretty sure you will not find in Scripture any place where a person is told to "dress up" before the Lord. In fact, all the texts I know of encourage people to "dress down".

    1 Tim 2:9-10 "I want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

    Modestly, with decency and propriety is not just talking about skimpy and revealing. It is talking appropriate and sensible. Plus, it goes on to tell what that is - not expensive, not flashy, but clothes that don't overshadow the true source of a woman's beauty, her godly deeds.

    In the OT, God even required the high priest to take off his high priestly robes and put on the robes of a common priest, linen garments, on the one day of the year that he would enter into the very presence of God, the Day of Atonement.(Lev 16:3-5, 23-24) God is serious about us walking humbly before Him, and for many, not all, fancy clothes tend to make us think more of ourselves than we should.

    My thinking is this: (1)Dress in a way that is best for you to bring glory and honor to your God, remembering He never has been and never will be impressed with our "stuff". (2) Don't dare try to determine that for other people. (3) Do whatever it takes to stay humble before the Lord.

    By Blogger Brad, at 1/27/2006 02:09:00 PM  

  • Virgil Lawyer was not only gifted, but versatile. My sophomore year at Harding he served as the cross country coach, with the help of Jim Crawford as a grad assistant, while Ted Lloyd was gone for a year. We had a lot of fun.

    About a year ago, a couple living near our church showed up one Sunday, got involved over time, and were both baptized after a few months. Along the way they shared their story... he as a recovering alcoholic, they as nearly divorcing but deciding to try one more time with "church" added to the equation. They first went to a church down the street, but that group was pretty formal in their dress and style as well as rather cold. Having decided to try our church as a last resort, they met a friendly guy in jeans and a polo as they crossed the parking lot the first time. The husband told me, "As I shook the guy's hand and he opened the door for us, I thought, 'I think I can go to church here.'" They are now our brother and sister.

    One thing I like about the "clothing atmosphere" here is that nobody seems to even notice if someone has on jeans or a suit or one of Tim's florals.

    As for me... I bought a suit last summer... needed it for my daughter's wedding. Let's see... it's somewhere here in my closet... maybe over here behind...

    By Blogger Rick J, at 1/27/2006 02:13:00 PM  

  • Yes! This is right on target brad, IMHO.

    (1)Dress in a way that is best for you to bring glory and honor to your God, remembering He never has been and never will be impressed with our "stuff".
    (2) Don't dare try to determine that for other people.
    (3) Do whatever it takes to stay humble before the Lord.

    Oh, and since we're sharing what we find attractive on a fellow, I rather like a pair of 501's and a polo shirt. :-)

    By Blogger reJoyce, at 1/27/2006 03:11:00 PM  

  • So Mike have you carried that tradition on yet or are you not old enough yet?

    By Blogger SG, at 1/27/2006 03:52:00 PM  

  • I find at our congregation that it's folks over say 45-50 that are offended by the casual dress and those younger are really comfortable with it. For instance, my mother-in-law gets ripped out of joint if my 14 year old son doesn't have his shirt tucked in when he waits on the Lord's table. So we tuck the shirt it, not because we think it's important, but because it's important to Grandmother and we love her.
    I can tell you it's what girls wear that is offensive to me. I've seen ridiculously immodest dress on girls. Winter and summer. Sooooo tight. As the mother of a hormonal 14 year old boy, I wish mothers and fathers of girls would teach them to dress "more" as in more fabric that is not quite so tight. I would be grateful and it might actually help some men and boys be eternally grateful.
    As for suits, they make most every guy look dashing and wonderfully handsome.
    My husband has a friend who dresses up every day at work even though everyone else prefers to dress down. He says it puts him in a professional mood. So it's possible that dressing up at church could put some people in a mood to be more reverent. Who knows. I just know as a woman I'm not wearing panty hose! They just make me feel ill.

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 1/27/2006 03:58:00 PM  

  • Mike, when I first got out of Harding and was working at Neosho, I went to Carl Junction to preach one Sunday. We were raising funds to go to Brazil. Duerd Pendegraft came up to me and stuck something in my coat pocket and told me to look at it later. First he just told me to "buy a pizza," then he said, "Why don't you buy you a suit?" He had put $1000 cash in my pocket. That was the most generous gift I ever received as a young minister. That new suit helped me raise the rest of our funds to go to Rio. God bless those special men who encourage young ministers!

    By Blogger Paul, at 1/27/2006 04:55:00 PM  

  • Mike, That story reminded me of a story you told at my great grandad's funeral. It was my freshman year at ACU, so I guess 1998?

    Kelly Martin was my great grandad and you talked about how he had done the same thing. Found a guy who needed a suit and bought him one. He would even take the suit off of his back and give it to a guy whether he wanted to or not. That story has had a great impact on me, allowing me to see a side of Ging-gong (yes, that's what we call him, blame my dad) I hadn't known before. He was always so loving to us, but it's really how you treat the one's you aren't required to love by blood that's makes the most difference to me. I've really tried to live by that example.

    As far as the church wear debate, my personal belief is that the way we dress on Sunday morning has way more to do with societal and cultural rules and disciplines than spiritual ones. We tend to turn everything into a spiritual debate, but in this case, I don't think there is one. To each his own, I say. Dress how you feel comfortable, realizing you may not feel comfortable on Sunday morning in shorts and flip-flops. Or then again you might.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 1/28/2006 01:11:00 PM  

  • Don't own a suit...if we were to all fall before the Lord, it would just get dirty.

    My tennis shoes make it easier to stand when sing praises to the Lord...and we may even start dancing for joy one day.

    By Blogger Larry, at 1/28/2006 06:06:00 PM  

  • At our church, we still have a "traditional" style worship service first thing on Sundays, and I lead worship in there every 4-6 weeks (I'm in the "other" service the other Sundays.) When I lead in that service, I typically wear a suit or coat/tie, then I actually change clothes before leading for our infinitely more casual 11 am service. How's THAT for riding the fence? I agree with all of you -- all of you, even those of you with opposing viewpoints! :-)

    I remember when you used to tell that story that Kim mentioned (in the very first comment). I believe you used to say that Kim's husband's shirt looked like it had been "ironed with a weed eater." I thought it was funny because I had done that myself so many times in college!

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 1/29/2006 01:13:00 PM  

  • The church my family and I attend is very, very informal. We meet in the clubhouse of an abandoned golf driving range. We recently went from 2 to 3 Sunday worship services, because we simply could not accomodate all the visitors we received with two services.

    Our services are a crazy mix of folks. We have a mix of white, black, and brown at every service. Lots of biker-types, lots of goatees, lots of long hair (men), lots of piercings and tattoos. The folks in suits are easily identified-- they're almost always members at other churches in town who are checking out what's going on at our place.

    Very few of our visitors (who make up about 50% of our weekly attendance) would be welcome, let alone fit in, at any of the "high church" services available around town. In our assembly, however, they have found a place where there are people just like them. They have also found a place where they can get beyond "church" to find Jesus.

    By Blogger Phil Richardson, at 1/29/2006 05:50:00 PM  

  • When I am feeling most me, it's jeans on Sunday AM. When I'm feeling dressy, it's cargo pants.

    Dressing up for church, in my mind, is like dressing up for Saturday lunch with my wife and kids. We're family. Yes, I'll get out of my jammies, but that's it.

    Church is family and family is not formal unless it is something rare and special (wedding, funeral, banquet etc). When did Jesus bust out the good duds? The fact that the Bible doesn't say anything about that is probably a pretty big nudge as to its relevance.

    Whenever I hear the "Giving our best to God," thing as it relates to Sunday AM dress code I want to walk away, ears covered, saying "na na na na na" really fast.

    That being said, I don't mind it is people wear suits to church or shorts to church. I like a mix myself. But if you are going to make a spiritual thing of it, then just hope I'm in a generous mood when we talk, because this kind of SES hierarchical, classist, spiritual superiority complex, clothing and lookism discrimination mumbo jumbo is something I don't mind taking down brick by brick to the glory of God.

    Why so crazy this way? Becuase I have seen people's fragile faith shaken by words about clothing. These conversations sound more like the dress code police at the country club than family conversation.
    And Virgil's a really nice guy.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 1/29/2006 10:38:00 PM  

  • I, too, am a lover of Virgil--and also of his sweet wife, Lou. He always makes me smile and his sweetness melts my heart. Whenever I am with him I just feel cozy.

    By Blogger Vkls, at 1/30/2006 06:03:00 PM  

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