Whether we like it or not, we wear uniforms all the time. I mean by that, ‘we are what we wear’ so often. Let me give you an example of church uniforms I’ve picked up on:
– go to a new trendy, ’emerging’ church, the uniform for men is smart jeans, shirt, ‘Gap’ style pullover and a scarf round your neck (not forgetting your suede covered bible)
– go to a collection of leaders from a city’s evangelical churches, the uniform is chinos, checked shirt and pullover with the obligatory sensible shoes. The women will be sporting smart trousers, jumper and a sleeveless over jacket
– go to a trendy charismatic shirt and the uniform is smart trousers and a shirt with the church’s logo on the left breast.
– go to a trad baptist church, the men will be in a grey suit with pastel coloured tie and the women will have a long skirt and a turtle neck jumper with smart suit-like jacket
– go to your trad C of E, the men have their slacks and tweed blazers, many of the women will have their loose fitting flowery skirts, jumper and sensible outdoor coat that come down just below the bottom
– go to the neo Salvation Army corps, the hoodie reigns alongside the ’emerging’ uniform as above
But, all these people will tell you that they couldn’t go to a church that wears a uniform :o) Even when we are dressing casually, what we wear speaks a lot about who we are.
Yet, Salvation Army uniform is still hotly debated (there would probably have been more response to this post than the last post about human trafficking if I hadn’t put in this sentence in parentheses!).
I remember General Larsson, speaking in his ‘welcome’ speech as General, talking about the fact that we must be a visible Army…that we have always been a very visible part of the body. But he also went on to say that its not so much the style, but the principle of the thing. The one size fits all (and no, I’m not talking SP&S sizing policies here) clearly doesn’t fit all and the modes of warfare we engage in require different equipment. He says this:
“A force that is visible– We are a gloriously visible part of the Body of Christ. We even witness by what we wear. It is the principle rather than any particular style of uniform that is important. Many young Salvationists of today, even in their informality, are showing their grasp of the principle. The principle of visibility needs every encouragement.”
I’m trying to encourage the flexible principal at Pill. We are totally not trying to promote no uniform, on the contrary, I’m trying to encourage people to be identified as a salvationist Christian more than just the two hours in the week they wear their serge suit.