Jeans at church? No problem

Published 2:38 pm Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sure, at many churches, people can wear Saturday clothes on Sunday morning services, but often because everyone else dresses up, people who dress down feel out of place.

Not at the Albert Lea Vineyard Church. Dressing down is the norm.

“It’s just part of the Vineyard DNA,” said the Rev. Matt Hundley.

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The denomination grew out of southern California in the 1970s, as people sought a contemporary way to worship Jesus Christ. They came wearing flip-flops, Hawaiian shirts, shorts and a laid-back attitude. In a place like Albert Lea, that translates to T-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans. Not everyone wears jeans to church, but most do.

“Come as you are,” said Deacon John McKean.

Nowadays, Vineyard services focus on the lessons from Christ and are punctuated by lively Christian singing. During services, when members of the congregation turn to greet each other, they don’t just say hello and move on to the next person. They gab and gab. Hundley has to lead them back to the service at hand.

On a typical Sunday morning during football season, about a quarter of the congregation — that’s a rough estimate — is wearing football jerseys to show support for their favorite NFL team playing later the same day.

Hundley said that more-structured congregations might see Vineyard’s low-key approach to worship as rebellious.

“It is not,” he said. “It is more that our main focus is the heart, what’s on the inside.”

He said many places talk about the heart. He said the difference is Vineyard attempts to model that in action, even in the low-key dress code.

Do people who dress up feel out of place? No, said Hundley. He cited a biker who at times dressed up in a suit, simply because he felt like it. And many members wear collared shirts, sweaters or blouses, so there is an array of dress styles, which makes fitting in no matter what a church-goer prefers to wear easier to do.


Even the card features blue jeans

A wallet card that members of Albert Lea Vineyard Church pass out has blue jeans on the front and a map to the church, 419 Adams Ave., on the back.

It folds out and has the headline, “Come Express Yourself at Albert Lea Vineyard Church.”

Then it offers this statement: “Everyone is unique — no one understands that better than God. He welcomes you unconditionally, and so do we. Tees or ties, quirky or quiet, polished or pierced, canes or kids … at Albert Lea Vineyard Church, you’ll feel comfortable and accepted. We’re enjoying God’s love and discovering the unique people He made us to be. Come enjoy great music and biblical messages at a church where you can just be yourself.”


Social media

Churches with contemporary services also use contemporary media. The Albert Lea Vineyard Church is no different. Learn about the church at these online locations:

Facebook: Type “Albert Lea Vineyard Church” in the search field
Twitter: @alvineyard
Other info
Address: 419 Adams Ave.
Phone: 377-1412
Services: 10 a.m. Sunday

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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