I should be more casual, given my age and generation (Baby Boomer.) However, it must have been the influence of being raised by Depression/ WWII era parents that skewed my view of this. Don't get me wrong, I love to relax in a good, comfortable pair of jeans. However, there is a time and place for casual atire. Still, I sense this practice is eroding in all settings, and I am struggling to accept this. When banks went to "casual Fridays" I cringed. Banks were always suit and tie places. Dealing with money was serious business. Serious atire seemed appropriate. So too with doctors. They should dress to reflect the 'life and death' nature of their responsibilities.
It was inevitible that the church would quickly follow suit. In my 20+ years of ministry I have seen the 'dress code' decline much from what I remember as a kid. Recently I heard about a new Wisconsin Synod mission start. Their web site says it all: www.casualaboutchurch.org. Their slogan is: "Casual About Church. Serious About God." The church building (I can't really call it a "sanctuary") is styled after a coffee house. Sofa chairs around tables with big screens in clear view allow the participants (can we call them "worshipers"?)to catch the pastor's sermon by remote (He's actually not there, but at the mother church several miles away.)
I realize that people today are casual about everthing, especially dress. The other week I went to a funeral as a guest and it seemed that I was the only one in a full suit with tie. Weddings are much the same. People simply resist dressing up and often brag about never wearing a tie. I guess I'm just not sure why. Aside from being comfortable, is it a matter of money? However, simple dress clothes really do not cost that much, and are often cheaper than the leather jackets and other expensive sports wear people buy.
Dressing up, or going formal, used to show respect for someone (as in funerals and weddings), or demonstrate professionalism, two reasons I cling to the practice. For the first reason - respect - I wonder: How can one be "causual about church" and still remain "serious about God"? It seems contradictory to me. If we are casual about how we approach God, then how do we maintain a posture of true respect and honor before His holiness? Or have we reduced God back to our level? I suspect the problem is as simple as how we view God. Even those who encountered God in the incarnate Christ demonstrated true respect, especially those outside the established relgious structure, like the centurion. I fear that today with 'causal church' as the norm, the view of God is going to change as well.
Maybe bowing before the altar seems 'old school' or 'high church' to some, but that is how I approach my God. I stand with Moses and Isaiah and Peter and John and all the rest who recognized the presence of divine holiness in their midst. Casual, at that point, seems to fall short and is inadequate.
What do you think?