“Sincerely, With Hope Thwarted”


The time is short, the needs are great, and too many people are moving straight toward Hell. As Christians we have so much to be doing to stand in the gap with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But then there is this email I received back in mid-December (on an early Sunday morning, nonetheless, just hours before preaching):


My husband and I attended your 9:00 am service on Sunday, December 16th.

We were welcomed by people at the doors, sat through a service honoring of our Savior with a well spring of talent on your worship team.  The selection of songs couldn’t have been more adoring as they wove between the meaningful skit.  We were amazed by the number of those on the platform that were dressed respectfully in suits, tie, or appropriate dress, no one stood out as a distraction from the true message.  We found ourselves free to worship our Lord and Savior! 

Since we are looking for a church that honors our Lord by preaching the Word, is respectful of the house of God in dress and has true worship that draws the presence of the Holy Spirit we thought Bethel may be the fit.

Please allow me to share our disappointment when a pastor came out after the program, in casual attire to close the service.  It was a let down to see the members of the body had a higher standard than their shepherd.  Sunday’s should be considered a holy day in the church where leadership sets an example in word, dress, and actions.  It is sad that many men in the world dress more appropriately for their work than leadership in a church dresses honoring a day for their Savior.

Sincerely with hope thwarted . . . .


One really has to have a good sense of humor in pastoral ministry. In my reply I told them I was grieved that with such a glorious mission as we have to help the spiritually hungry experience and proclaim the life-changing power of Christ, the difference between a nice red Christmas sweater and a silk tie was really that important to them.

Dear ones, let us all—me included—reach so much higher than this, as King David echoes in Psalm 61:3, in which he wrote, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”




  1. Carrie says:

    The point of the issue here is not the clothes, it is the attitude. Would you wear less than your best to meet the President of the United States or the Queen of England? Then why wear less than your best to worship the holy, sovereign King of Kings? Further, as a teacher, you are held to a higher standard (James 3:1) and God calls us to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16). As the appointed leader of a flock, you are to set an example and, especially at a Sunday morning worship service, to lead. And either way, as a teacher, shame on you for not only protecting your own “right to dress” (contrary to Ephesians 4:3) but also in chiding the sincere (1 Corinthians 8:13). I would encourage you to examine yourself, sir (2 Corinthians 13:5).

  2. Matthew R. St. John says:

    Janet…..you’re right! Moreover, James writes in James 2 that those who make distinctions about clothing within church “become judges with evil thoughts.”

  3. Janet says:

    I would really like for someone to point out to me where the “dress code” is biblical. I have several different translations, but none of them say how we should dress for Sunday worship. The closest would be Jesus chastising the Pharisees for paying more attention to the rules than to the people, I suppose…

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