Sunday Best (Does God Care What I Wear to Church?)

Travis Agnew Ministry, Worship Ministry 29 Comments

Everybody knows that when you go to church on Sunday you are supposed to wear your “Sunday best.”  Right?  I always heard that you dress up in your nice clothes on Sunday morning because God deserves our best.  So find the most expensive, formal attire and wear that on Sundays because it honors God.

Does it?  Have you ever wondered what the Bible really says about what clothes to wear to worship?

While the Bible does not give us specific directions on if I am supposed to wear a robe, tie, bow tie, khakis, designer jeans, hip t-shirts, or flip-flops to the church house, it does give us direction concerning attire.  Here’s what we do know:

  1. No Cross-Dressing.“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this” (Deut. 22:5).  Cross-dressers, you have been warned.
  2. Avoid Glitzy Attire. The New Testament teaches women to dress modestly without expensive clothes or jewelry (1 Tim. 2:9-10).  Many possible reasons could be for this command.  Paul probably wanted to make sure focus was on God, that jealousy didn’t enter the church, that pride didn’t make its way into worship, that clothing competition took place, and that people didn’t spend money on glitzy attire when other church members needed food to eat.
  3. Modesty is Key. A woman’s beauty should be seen by the inner qualities and not the skin parade often seen in churches today (1 Pet. 3:2-5).  Guys and gals, why would you dress in such a way that people in the house of God have to fight for purity when you walk by?  What would we call something that caused God’s people to take their eyes of God?
  4. Beware of the Hat (or Embrace the Hat). Many people say that people shouldn’t wear hats in church because it is disrespectful.  The ancient tradition signified that someone removed their hat when in the presence of a superior so this applied to worship settings (1 Cor. 11:4-7), but it also says that women should put on head coverings.  So moms, take your Atlanta Braves hat off of your teenage son and put it on your head.
  5. Prepare More than the External. God says he is more concerned with the quality of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7) than he is the styles that we wear.  Last Sunday, did you spend more time checking your clothes out in the mirror or checking to see if there was any hurtful way in your life that broke the heart of God (Psalm 139:22-23).
  6. Avoid Attire that Divides. In our culture, suits and dresses reveals financial stability within a home.  Unfortunately, not everyone has that type of finances to acquire such clothing.  Listen to what James has to say in 2:1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

I can’t give you a complete exhaustive account of what God expects of you and your threads, but, after a small study on God’s Word on the matter, I do know this: In church culture, we accept more the traditions of men in the area of clothing than we do the commandments of God (Mark 7:8).  If you look through just some of these verses, you must admit that the “Sunday Best” rules not only are not found in Scripture, but Scripture might actually refute if not rebuke these rules.

Be careful here: I know designer jeans that cost as much as swanky suits.  The problem is a matter of the heart and perception, not what style era you fit in.  I think to summarize all of these insights is to make sure your clothing doesn’t distract the people of God from focusing upon God.  The Body of Christ should be the one group where we gather together where we don’t have to prove ourselves, our bank accounts, our fashion styles, or our toned bodies.

Sunday Best is when we die to self and give Jesus the glory he deserves.  Not when we attempt to impress his followers so that they no longer focus upon him.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

Comments 29

  1. For information on how the practice of wearing nice clothes to church became a staple of sunday morning worship see chapter 6 in frank viola and george barna’s book “pagan christianity”, the chapter is called “sunday morning costumes”

  2. God is jealous God. If you can dress the best for special occasions how much more with God who created us. If someone can afford expensive Sunday dresses, its not divisive. What divisive is the “envious” believers. Christians do not buy expensive dress that is beyond their means. God knows what we have in our closets and we should know what’s the best for The Lord. Partiality is treating well dress better than the other according to the verse you have mentioned. its not the good dresser’s fault for he’s respecting the God he worship.

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      1. What ever we have in our closets, (God knows). Poor might have ragged clothes and rich have expensive ones. Come as they are with the hearts after God. I’ve known Christiians who doesn’t have much and shows in their best dress and I have seen some (mostly teens, no offense) who come in shorts, but in their prom they wear expensive tux or whenever they are meeting dignitaries.

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          1. Acts 15:8 (NIV)
            8 God, who knows the heart,(A) showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them,(B) just as he did to us.

            If God knows the heart before he gave Christians the Holy Spirit, then how much more is that the He in us would discern the motive of our thoughts (Heb 4:12).

            This is the logic, Not of what you wear, but the desire of your heart. As I mentioned before. Poor or rich we (Believers) are all being gauge by God through our hearts (ie: David). A HEART AFTER GOD. May the Good Lord bless you and keep you.

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  3. Men and women who do not heed to a proper dress code when attending religious services are committing a mortal sin! Men that don sandals, jeans, shorts, and other sinful attire to holy mass are being directly coerced by Satan! I know this for a fact! Satan’s power is more powerful on society than ever before. Satan has influenced churches to allow secular music to be played at mass, and the use of guitars is the devil’s pride showing his retched power to destroy the sanctity of The Lord Jesus Christ! People are being to complacent and not realizing this. These evils are what’s causing clergy members to abuse children sexually. It’s the devil’s influence to wreak havoc on the Catholic Church in particular. We need to band together in deepest prayer. We a nation of believers need to pray that the devil can’t overthrow us as the greatest nation in the world. But the devil has taken human form masquerading as terrorists, evil scientists like the influential atheists Richard Dawkins and Steven Hawking. They are the devil. Oh, may the Power and Glory of Almighty Jesus spare us believers, our nation and our freedom, from the ravages of Satan. Heavenly Father I ask that you lead, guide, direct and touch in Your Precious Name. Amen!

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  4. That’s the key question for someone’s statement, is it biblical? One biblical thought I know in the scripture is “pray & bless your enemy” for (Jo 3:16) God so love the atheist/believers, extremist, crooked politicians, thieves (world)… That He gave His only begotten son…God bless.

  5. I attended a Sunday school once and an adult teacher therein said how he was convicted to always wear his best as he said he thought wearing holes in your jeans was disrespectful ! What he failed to admit was his very words while my grandson sat in jeans with holes in them in his class , were an indication of his lack of love , adherence to traditions of men and of his sin ! Secondly , I am 6 feet two or so with long arms – I buy clothes two times a year ! One day I bought three shirts all about $60.00 each – two have lasted me three years or so the other not so much ! My former Pastor spent about one quarter of his sermon the first day I wore one on how he hates cheap Arrow shirts he wore that someone gave him ! Whether of jealousy or trying to shame me he failed – God knows I deserve a shirt or two that fits my frame – the sin once again was the Pastors – not mine as a deacons – perhaps he was just bored with Gods ways !

    1. I am really sorry for what happened to you, but consider it a blessing that you are persecuted, “technically” in Jesus name. You are there to listened to God’s Word. With God, you can come as you are, He knows our heart and he love us no matter what. May the grace and mercy be upon you and them. I hope you find it in your heart to pray and bless them. God bless, Mr. Kevin Peterson.

  6. So do we say that what we wear to church doesn’t matter at all? The passage in 1 Samuel 16 probably refers to David’s youth and height rather than the clothes he was wearing at the time.
    Man DOES look on the outward appearance, and the way a person looks and dresses does reflect his character to some extent, and his respect for God and for others. Everybody judges other people by the way they look; it is simply the fabric of human relationships. A bank president dresses in such a way as to exude a sense of responsibility, for he is handling one’s money. The same could be said for a school principal, for that person is responsible for the welfare of many children. How does the pilot of a jet plane dress-with long hair, tattoos, and earrings? Of course not!
    In the OT God gave specific instructions as to how the leaders of worship were to dress. How about the elaborate garments of the high priest? The instructions here were given to Israel, but there is a principle that applies to us today.
    Perhaps many worshippers today are asking themselves the question — ” if he doesn’t even know how to dress, how can I trust him to impart to me divine truth?”
    The classic passage on wearing one’s “Sunday best” is found in Genesis 35:1-3. There the selfish and worldly Jacob wanted to change his life and return to Bethel, the house of God. But not just in any old way. He told his people to purify themselves and change their clothes.

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      I think dress has a way of dividing. James 2 talks about dress and riches causing division within the church. In our context, it is easy to throw socio-economic differences, education, job, etc. in causing us to see the external and make a call on someone’s inner quality. We just be careful of not falling into the sin of partiality as discussed in James 2:1-10.

      1. I totally agree. Falling into partiality could be a stumbling block for new believers and less fortunate. We are no longer under the law, but under grace. Let us not this freedom become a stumbling block to another. Nice dress, ragged dress, if in your conscience is clear then let it be so. If we insist our conviction towards other, then we are not acting in love.

        May the good Lord bless you and keep you.

  7. interesting blog. I have been visiting this topic several times over the last year. Most people have the same conservative view of wearing your best to church, but ironically everyone i have personally talked to have a different reason of how they have come to this conclusion, and ironically none of their reason is based in scripture. I would like to add a few things if it would help anyone.

    1) the dress your best mentality does not come from something in Bible. It can be traced back to two things. a) Cultured dictated you didn’t go anywhere without wearing your best. this wasn’t just exclusively for church goers. b) rich people don’t like being around people who dress less than them. This is a battle for rich people that stems back… well… forever or as long as we have had historical writings on the subject.

    2) status quo. people don’t like change, so even if they cant use the Bible to backup claims, they don’t like changing things.

    3) I was a little confused about #6 on this blog because it is the “wear your Sunday best crowd” that become divisive when you are not wearing your Sunday best.

    4) I have often found myself disagreeing with don’t wear clothes that would distract. the reason: nobody ever gives examples. Because if we were all honest. Clothes that distract in Church are clothes that one does not approve of, so therefore you are distracting me from worshiping God. I believe this attitude could be link to the warning God gives us in James 2.

    some where down the line, we quit reading our bibles and we have blindly followed church leaders. The result: lots of rules, regulation, and tradition that may not be bad, but things that are simply not in the Bible and these are things that hinder growth.

    1. GOD sees the heart, while man focuses on the outer appearances. I truly believe that GOD isn’t as concerned about what one has on his/her body as much as He’s concerned about what’s on one’s mind and in one’s heart! GOD desires our soul, but clothes!

  8. Interesting to read Travis’s article and the reply posts. My belief is one of simplicity. Always dress for God-
    Respectfully and reverently.
    No matter the “House” rules for church, people will dress their choice and conscience. Therefore, As Ambassadors for Christ, we must always be good examples- in dress, in speech , and actions.
    Thank you for the discussion!
    God bless you all.

  9. So does it really matter what you wear to church is the question. God wants to see who you really are. Since everyone is different in there own ways, God wants you to show him, and the world how you truly are. You can be in rags and he will still appreciate you for coming. The people who go to church shouldn’t judge you by what you wear, or how much money you have. We are all human beings going through problems. You can wear shorts or flip flops and a regular ole t-shirt. Some people do because that is all what they have. You shouldn’t separate people out by what they wear either. Most of the people who have really little learn to appreciate what they have and tend to be much kinder. People who show off and brag about all the things they have; most of the time they turn into snobs and think of the poor as nothing more but servants and slaves. So, no it doesn’t matter what you wear to church. Be who you are, for that is what the Lord wants you to be, and whoever judges you, ignore then and walk away because anyone you judges other people are not as good inside.

  10. It’s NOT about what you wear, but why you wear it. Some dress in their best because they think they will “earn points” with God, and some want to impress men. And there are those who want to give God their best in everything, not just with their clothes, and not just on Sunday. On the other side, their are those who dress casually because their relationship with God is casual. And those who dress casually because their confidence is in God seeing their hearts for Him, and not their clothing, and so they are comfortable inside and out.

  11. Beware the road to Salvation is narrow. A true Christian is to walk in (and always) try to walk for the GLORY OF CHRIST. Every step you take, every blink you make, and every breath you let go, every thought of your mind should be to please GOD. The greatest commandment is to Love your GOD with all your mind, heart and soul. GOD does not cast out or despise people just because they are rich, JOB was considered one of the richest men in history (or at least the ancient world) King Solomon, and many others where rich who glorified the Word of GOD (and CHRIST in new testament). And GOD has blessed many people with richest,

    Bottom line you give all your works unto GOD. Glorify your stuff with his name and give HIM all credit, because of HIM you have it. so if you are a poor man who can barely feed yourself even if you cant afford new cloths at least wash your cloths before entering into GOD house, and give the gory unto HIM same as a billionair you go get the most lavished clothes money can buy, and give the glory to him, DO NOT DO IT FOR STATUS OR STATURE but to give the LORD ALMIGHTY the GLORY all that we can provide (be warned we cannot give HIM the glory HE deserves) and do it for HIM from every part of your body to worship him, (Proverbs 3:9)(Hosea 4:6)( Hebrews 9:11-10:18)(1 John 5:19). Again if you dress up nice for Church for yourself then it will be in Vein. But dress in your utmost best from the stuff HE gives you (or allows you to get) to worship the LORD YOUR GOD.

    I was once heard it this way: HE sent his only SON to be murdered for you, to sacrifice his life,to be tortured, cursed, ridiculed, spit on, and maimed all that you can bask in his presence for all eternity and you cant even have the common courtesy to dress presentable for his worshiping?

    1. commom courtesy? I say this as nice as i can, but yet again an example of how we expose our own problem of not being bothered with people who dress less than us. the bible say Adam and eve wore animal skins to cover their nakedness. God was certainly pleased with this. so why do we get all twisted over people not dressing “presentable” before God. the biggest problem is we dont really know what presentable before God is when discussing clothing.

      1. Nearly everyone has 2 sets of clothes: “Good” clothes and “Work/Play” clothes. I was always taught by my parents that the ones “Presentable” to wear to church are your clean “Good” clothes, the ones you take better care of, that you might wear to a job, out on a date, or to school. They are NOT the clothes you play sports in, mow the lawn in, dig in the garden in, etc. It is God who provides the $ for you to dress yourself, so it is Him you dress for when you go to His house.

  12. “Courtesy to dress presentable”. That was the last statement. So let me see if I’ve got this right. It’s ok to dress presentable for God (Whom, by the way, won’t make a personal appearance), but if someone dresses nice so their friends can see that maybe they finally got that new outfit, (and sits two rows back), it’s a huge sin? Do the good people in this forum understand that humans created money, social classes, first and second place. Anyone read the ten commandments? Pretty clear huh? Don’t break any of them. Have a blessed day everyone. Remember, God loves us all, he’s not judging competitions. I don’t think he holds any.

  13. OK, so I have to wear compression stockings because of my bad veins. And during the summer months I often wear with dress shorts and a button down collar. Am I condemned because of my health issues? What about when clothing styles change? I’m not talking dressing up like a woman, but only last century men’s clothes were more flamboyant with their short breaches, stockings, and wigs, while women were pretty much covered up from the neck down to their shoes.

  14. Thanks for this, i often find myself trying to dress up in a tie cause i feel like if i dont ill be condemned by some Christian brothers, tho i know it should be that way, this really helped: )

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