Why Have a Student Ministry Dress Standard
In our last issue we began briefly considering the question, “Does God care what we wear?” So many of you responded positively to this series of articles and I appreciate your feedback! In a day when sloppier and sleezier is finding its way into the church and the Christian home, may we reconsider clear biblical principles and transfer them to our children. God gives us many good reasons to carefully choose our dress and to set guidelines for how we “appear.” The first three reasons were as follows:
1. To please the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him above all. 2. To submit to the biblical principle of modesty. 3. To submit to the biblical principle of appropriateness and identify with godliness. Our last article provided verses and explanations, so if you missed it, feel free to send me an email and I will forward it to you. Let’s consider the next three reasons why we should hold a high standard for our dress choices both at church and in our family.
4. To promote an environment of purity and spiritual growth. Sadly, teens today are more sexually educated, sexually active, and sexually tempted than they have EVER been in American history! In our homes and church environments we should be committed to maintaining a pure and godly atmosphere—and that means dress should be modest and appropriate. The way we dress absolutely contributes to the environment of a group or family setting, and these environments should be godly and Christ-honoring.
Additionally, teens often draw much of their identity from their clothing! They are highly self-conscious and image conscious. Read this statement carefully: A group dynamic where every individual is consumed with social status and fashion trends doesn’t lend itself to individual spiritual growth! They must get over themselves before they will grow spiritually.
Every time our youth group meets, we are pursuing spiritual transformation! This is not a light thing. It is a very serious matter. And our dress should contribute to the process, not detract from it. Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
Think of this “environment” principle this way: What if your child needed open heart surgery and the surgeon showed up for surgery wearing flip flops, cut-off shorts, a tank top, a ball cap, sunglasses, and smelling like sunscreen? You would deem him inappropriate and unfit for surgery!
When my daughter was born she was eight weeks early, and for two weeks she had to be kept in the NICU ward of the hospital. Strangely, every time I wanted to hold her or see her, I had to scrub my hands and arms and cover myself in the most odd-looking blue outfit you have ever seen. Why? Because the NICU is about a delicate health environment where little lives are at stake. The value of those lives places a premium on the cleanliness of the environment.
So, how valuable are the young hearts we are raising up in today’s godless culture? How safe and pure is the environment you create for young people? Is your church or youth group a place where spiritual growth is highly valued? Or is it a place where sensuality reigns in the name of “grace.” I know that’s strong, but I fear that we have devalued our spiritual environments to the point where, though kids might be having fun—dressing and dancing and playing—we have killed the chance for real life transformation. The environment matters, and kids don’t need us to juvenilize God and His truth! They need us to call them to higher ground and to a biblical lifestyle that rises above the dictates of culture.
5. To honor the convictions of our pastor. What could possibly be wrong with simply preferring another person—especially one in spiritual authority? The Bible is clear on this principle in two ways. First, we are commanded to honor those who have the rule over us. Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls…”. Second, we are commanded to prefer one another! Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
For young people, the question of dress is as simple as, “What do my authorities want me to wear?” The attitude that says, “I’ll wear what I want no matter what anybody says” is not only rebellious, it is just purely selfish and childish. Any two year old can display that on cue! If I know an authority figure prefers that I dress a certain way, I’m right to honor and to prefer my authority just to show love and respect.
Question: Why will we do this for employers, restaurants, golf courses, and bowling alleys (Yes… I’ll explain that one later), but we won’t do it for the Lord or for environments that represent Him? When I was sixteen working at McDonald’s, they made me wear a blue hat! I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to wear it. I thought it was stupid. But I wore it—and with a good attitude. Why? Because they paid me.
6. To give an account to the Lord with joy. This one is really big for me—both as a parent and as a youth pastor. We really do have to stand before God to answer for the environment we allow! We will answer to God for what we allow and for what we teach. May God give us the courage to make our dress choices not by the movement of culture, but by the principle of accountability to God. Second Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
So there you have it—three more reasons why we can conclude that God really does care about what we wear. We’ve covered six so far and we have four more to go! You really don’t want to miss the next article if only for the fact that you must hear about a recent bowling alley experience that I had with my family. Can’t wait to share it. Until then—give God His way and dress for the glory of His name not your own!