Most churches have an unofficial dress code that visitors do not know.
When a visitor appears to break the dress code, how does your church react?
Does your reaction help the church’s mission of evangelism, or does it create an environment that is hostile to evangelism?
The ‘secret’ dress code
One of our first time visitors had only been in America for three days.
She had never ever been in a church on the globe.
Her shorts redefined ‘mini-shorts.’ The curves of her butt cheeks were visible. Her shorts were so tight her thong was visible. Her choice of plunge cut and tight fitting blouse was what we see outside of the nightclubs across the street from our residence at 6 in the morning when they are emptying out.
Instead of being welcomed, our guest was practically shunned.
People didn’t approach her, or talk with her (I did, which is how I found out about her story). They stared, stealing secret glances, and trying not to get caught.
Let’s just say it was a socially awkward morning.
Five years later, that visitor is still remembered by the men – only because they remember how much skin they saw.
They didn’t see the immigrant searching for God.
When we were the awkward church visitor . . . .
Our family attended a church whose holiness tradition required women to wear ankle length skirts, head veils, and men had to be in full suits.
We didn’t know anything about this secret dress code until we appeared at a morning service. We were different and felt awkwardly out of place, in fact downright self-conscious.
Yet the people in the church approached us, greeted us, welcomed us, and asked questions of us.
We didn’t feel the stares of church members (nor notice any).
We had been warmly and enthusiastically welcomed and invited to return, which overcame our personal sense of embarrassment at not knowing the dress code.
Let me ask you this?
- How does your church react to visitors who dress or look differently than you?
- Can you still engage visitors in conversation when you can’t stop looking at their nose piercing?
- Do you secretly stare at their interesting haircut or choice of hair color?
- How do you react to twenty something in ripped blue jeans?
- Do you secretly wonder if the foreign visitor is legal?
- When the shorts were too short for church. . . [Click here to tweet]
- Stare at your church visitors so they never come back . . [Click here to tweet]
Download Tools under $15 to help you
Each one of these tools can help you with training. Click on their links to learn more.
- Create a Culture of Church Hospitality – audio download that includes 14 ways to cast vision.
- Greeter Webinar#1 – a 1 hour class for greeters.
- Greeter Webinar #2 – a 1 hour class from January 2013.
- Evaluate your Church hospitality – audio download on reviewing your systems
Image Credit: TaroTaylor, Creative Commons, Flickr