There are many different ministry tools the Lord can use to reach those around us. I have had the experience to dive into one of the overlooked avenues of connection, which is Fashion. Now, I know what you are thinking, “here we go”, but there a lot of details under the surface that the Lord uses to reach his people. Allow me to shed light on how Fashion is not only a tool for ministry, but has also changed the dynamics in reaching the culture around us.
Growing up in Church I recall many Sunday mornings crying in my mother’s room as she made me put on a fancy dress, and put bows in my hair before we went to church. Dressed in your Sunday Best was a saying I heard a lot. Honestly, almost everyone knows the phrase “Sunday best”. Every kid in kid’s church was just as dressed up as me, and seeing someone not wearing a suit was quite surprising. At the time, dressing in your Sunday best was the way to show your reverence to the Lord. You bring your best to meet him in his presence. Now, at twenty-years-old, I have seen the change in the way of thinking and dressing. Showing up to church in jeans and a t-shirt went from being highly inappropriate to being the new normal, but why?
Church is not just a fashion statement, but a place that is welcoming and allows you to be who you truly are.
The main reasoning behind the drastic change in church fashion was due to the change in culture of society, and in the heart of the church. Over the years society has become a lot more expressive. People are feeling free to be who they are and to be different from the social norm. With the rise in people wanting to be different, churches realized that the high standards of dress code were not appealing to people. With the heart of the church being to reach lost people, raising the standards of acceptance of how people dress, helps the church become more approachable. This reinforces the “come just as you are” mentality we should all have when we come together to worship. In reality, anything, and I do mean anything, can be a hindrance to someone hearing and experiencing the Gospel, but fashion should no longer be one.
Fashion choices by the leaders in that church open the door for their congregation to connect with them.
Even within a single church you can see how pastors dress differently depending on the people they are trying to connect with. Kid’s and youth pastors tend to dress in ways that will better connect with their students. While the style a person wears does not drastically change what they are capable of doing, in today’s world it can have an impact on how people view them. This is why Pastors tend to dress more towards the style of people they are preaching to. Not because they are worried about what those people think of them, but so they can relate and connect even if it is just in the slightest way. The fashion choices of a pastor can show their intentionality of reaching those around them. It also shows their people that you can be yourself in the presence of the Lord without fear of how you look.
Fashion has become a way for the congregation to feel more unified.
Churches all over the world have their own shirts to represent the church they are a part of. Having t-shirts, or material things, express their love and desire to be a part of the unit. They feel a part of something bigger than themselves, and they choose to represent that in their clothing. This is why some churches have started their own fashion lines. We are living in a very materialistic world and a big aspect of that is clothing. Churches have been able to change materialism into a ministry tool. Having a church merchandise line is a great way to connect with younger generations. It shows people that while the materialism of the fashion industry can be secular at times, it does not always have to be.
There are more outlets through Fashion to display Christ than just wearing clothes.
Churches have been known to host plays, conferences, concerts, and many for advantageous events to draw the body of Christ together. During all of these events, fashion is used to help the audience, congregation, or attendee relate to what is being presented to them more through a visual representation. From past experience a single conference opener can take countless hours of designing costumes for each person. While the choreographed dance, with the very detailed costumes, is not what saves people or brings them the word of God, it does give the people a fun experience that can play a big part in softening their heart to the message of the conference. The costumes of the people and the design of the stage at a conference are appealing to the eye. The power of God’s presence at church conferences is in no way comparable, but the lights, costumes, and dancers create an element of fun that brings the viewers joy and happiness. With every detail accounted for, we can use fashion to introduce someone to Jesus, and encourage them to start this amazing journey with him. Every detail counts, including what is worn.
Fashion should not make anyone feel left out. We are all open to our own expression and interpretation. Fashion has a place in the church that is subtle and unique. What people wear in a church ultimately is not what leads someone to Christ, but it does have the power to draw people in so that the love of the Lord can be shown to them. While fashion will be forever changing inside and out of the Church, the love of Christ and what the church uses fashion for will always remain the same. It is not just a fashion statement; it is an avenue to connect the body of Christ with the world around it, in a unique, and sometimes even trendy, way.