Childhood Memories Friday: Sunday Best

Childhood Memories FridayI spent a lot of time at church as a child. Other than home or school, probably no other place has more memories for me. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and when there were revivals, those too.

One unwritten rule in our house was that you always wore a dress to church. Today, things are much different – at least at our church. I still wear a dress or skirt (I admit to wearing pants a few times if it’s really cold, but I do feel a bit sinful doing it …). However, I’m almost an oddity. All around me are women wearing nice pants, but also lots in jeans. In summer, the congregation “goes casual,” with the congregants and even many of the staff donning shorts and T-shirts in a seemingly desperate effort to appear with-it and feel comfortable.

And – I hate it. It just seems wrong. When I was a child, Sunday mornings did see most women wearing dresses, but not all. And I vividly remember clucking inwardly on Sunday nights, when numerous members of the youth choir departed the choir loft after singing wearing shorts! Short shorts, no less! This was truly shocking.

I know that it’s a big deal nowadays to be “relevant” – to “reach people where they are” yadda yadda yadda. It’s even been said that it’s elitist to expect people to dress up for church “because some people don’t have any dressy clothes!” That argument rings false to me. In our consumer society, there are really people out there pining to go to church, but feeling held back by their lack of appropriate clothing? Show me such a person.

One thing I really enjoyed about my two years living in Birmingham, Alabama, was that people did dress up for church there. Heck, you even had a lot of women wearing hats to church. It was just nice to see people respecting God and looking different than the folks you’d see in Wal Mart.

Do you remember “Sunday Best” being dressier when you were young than it is now? Or maybe this whole phenomena is just part of the non-denominational, mega-church trend that we’re caught up in …

6 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Sunday Best

  1. Yes!

    Growing up, I never would have dreamed of wearing anything other than a dress (or maybe a skirt) to church on Sunday morning. And usually the same dress on Sunday evening (as my mother said – it’s not a fashion show!), unless it was REALLY cold – then maybe “slacks” (does anyone even call them that anymore?). But certainly never jeans on Sunday evening!

    And Wednesday evenings, well, usually it was school clothes – which very definitely did NOT include shorts!

    One thing I’ve seen happen is the creation of a sort of barrier – there are the “church families” – those who have been brought up with the “dress code” and would never wear jeans to a Sunday morning service, and “other people” who perhaps just don’t know any better. It’s not deliberate by any means – but everyone knows who’s part of the “old guard” and who’s, well, not.

    And I can’t help wondering – if people can manage to dress respectfully for work or a court appearance, should they do any less when they attend a place of worship?

  2. I grew up in church too, and in the past we all wore dresses to the morning service but were free to wear long pants or jeans to evening ones. Honestly, I think my jeans were more modest than my very short dresses when I was a teen. Now I am usually the only woman wearing a dress (much, much longer now!) to church, most other women wear anything from dressy pants suits to sweat suits. I wear a dress or skirt almost all the time now, tho, not just at church – at least when I leave the house. I also wear a hat or head covering to church or Bible study, but I am pretty much alone in this.

  3. you would die if you saw me for church. i wear jeans and flip flops to our church. that is what i wear most days in life. it’s comfortable. . . i have to agree to disagree on this one – as i don’t care what people wear – just that they GO to church.

    susan’s sister 🙂

  4. Hey, count me in on the list of people in church on Sunday mornings, unless I am on vacation somewhere. As a child and teenager, I definitely wore only dresses/skirts to church, but those days went by the wayside for me way back in the 1970s or 80s. Especially in winter, I have worn slacks and blazers for the majority of my life now. And now there are no services on Wed. or Sunday nights, but like you, Susan, I spent the most time in church except for school “in the day” (whatever that means). Church with its traditional values was the place to be in my rural neighborhood, and I am grateful that I continue to feel that way both then and now.

    Frankly, I still absolutely HATE seeing jeans, shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops in church even yet!!! To me it is disrespectful. Shouldn’t we look our best when we worship God? You can definitely tell that I am from the “old school”, but not so much that I would ever consider going back to the hat, gloves, or dress routine again. Since I attend a traditional country church with a congregation of only 80 people, whom most would not want to be seen ANYWHERE ever wearing shorts let alone church, I should be safe growing older in a somewhat casual but not TOO casual dress mode.

  5. My mother was the one that took me to church when we did go. My family was not much into church and still isn’t to this day. I am the Jesus freak in the family. Anyway, I remember I wore a lot of dresses when I was little. Dresses to school, dresses to church. Once I hit high school in the late 70’s I was pretty much always in pants. I have to say that I was rather relieved when girls were allowed to wear pants at school. I remember boys looking up girls dresses at times, or when us girls used the monkey bars our panties would show. And I remember trying to wear a slip with some dresses, ugh, I absolutely hated slips and pantyhose! For me pants are so much easier and give me a feeling of modesty. But I do agree about dressing up for church to show reverence for God. The church we go to now, some people dress up and others are very casual. Whatever the case I am just glad to see people at church praising the Lord.

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