For the past many months I have had the great joy of pastoring Lake Country Bible Church. This local church is best known for two Christian virtues. 1) A deep and abiding love for one another (John 13:34-35) and 2) an intense appetite for the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2-3). These ministry hallmarks make shepherding and preaching to this congregation a real blessing.
One of the reasons I moved to Lake Country, Wisconsin is because of how like-minded we are. LCBC and I share the same deep convictions relating to a biblical philosophy of ministry among many other things. However, that does not mean that there are not any differences. One such minor difference revolves around dress. On any given Sunday I may be one of two or three men in a suit and tie. For many weeks, I had members jokingly remind me that, “You don’t need to wear that here.” I generally just smile and say something like “I know.” So why do I choose to “dress up” so formally and why am I totally fine if the congregation chooses not to?
Let me try and answer both of these questions for you.
1) The Scripture places a premium on the heart. External religion without genuine passion and love for God displeases the Lord (see Rev. 2; John 4:23-24). Matthew 23 and the Old Testament book of Malachi also drive home this timeless truth.
One of the reasons why I am fine with a more informally dressed flock is because the members at LCBC still take worship very seriously. Biblical worship needs to convey both holy fear and exuberant joy. One without the other misses the mark. David put it this way in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Tim Challies notes that “it is a matter of the heart before it is a matter of dress, and the heart is both tricky and deceitful.”
2) The Bible commands believers to dress modestly. In some inspired instructions related to worship the Spirit of God calls women (in particular) “to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1 Tim. 2:8-15). In short, worship is about glorifying God (Psalm 150) and edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ (Col. 3:16). In view of this one should strive to not draw undo attention to themselves. This could take place in terms of flaunting one’s wealth (look at me) or in showing off one’s body (look at me). Both of these things are common place in the world today. I mean isn’t that what most red carpet events are designed for? However, this sort of practice is unacceptable within the body of Christ. The heart of worship is that it's ultimately about Him (not me). The Triune Lord of creation is the main attraction at LCBC. I thank God for this.