Written by Kyuboem Lee
Friday, 17 January 2014 00:00
I have lived and ministered in inner city Philadelphia for almost 20 years now. During those years, I’ve had a number of encounters with my neighbors who were “unchurched.” When I had the opportunity to do so, I would invite them to a church service. Some accepted; many declined. The number one reason for declining, by far? It wasn’t “I don’t share your doctrinal position,” or even “I don’t believe in organized religion.” But rather it was this: “I don’t have the right clothes to wear.”
The easy, and most obvious, response to this is to say, “We are not a stuffy, dressed-up traditional church. We have a casual dress code; come as you are.” Indeed, this fits nicely with the ethos of mega-churches that sprang up in the US suburbia during the 80’s and 90’s, as well as with that of emerging/missional groups of the new century. “We got that area covered; no need to stay away.”
However, I believe the “no proper clothes” response in my neighborhood is indicative of something far deeper than the church dress code.