Why I’m Grateful I Get to Wear Jeans to Church

California Connections

Why I’m Grateful I Get to Wear Jeans to Church

Written By Sarah M. Graham

Why I’m Grateful I Get to Wear Jeans to Church

Have you ever thought about the different regional distinctions that exist in the nation because someone or something influenced a generation, particularly those things that have had tremendous staying power? An example would be the Cajun/Creole accent we delight in when we talk to someone from New Orleans. What a fascinating phenomenon that hundreds of years ago, the French language mingled with a developing southern drawl, birthing an accent that carries on to this day down in the Bayou (and that many of us get to enjoy here in Fresno, California, whenever we converse with Jason Robertson!).  

Recently, a friend group of mine talked about Levi Strauss and how his introduction of the rivet-reinforced denim pants (commonly referred to as “jeans”) in Sacramento during the famed Gold Rush has impacted everyday life in the US, especially here in California. If I were a betting woman, I’d dare say that every person reading this right now has wondered, “Can I wear jeans to that event?” And I get it. “Dressed up Jeans” is my signature look! 

The Jeans conversation was sparked because that morning, I found myself chatting with a friend who lives in the Bible Belt and is well-entrenched in SBC life, who asked me to explain small groups (emphasis on the word ‘groups’). I was amused at the notion of ‘small groups’ being so foreign to a churched person that they would put the emphasis on the wrong word, but it reminded me that the pioneering spirit of the California church leader is very much alive and well. 

As we are now halfway through the 2024 listening sessions with Pete Ramirez, change, innovation, and invention (or whatever you want to call it) have been at the forefront of the conversations. There is a demand placed on our churches to evaluate (and re-evaluate) the methodology of “doing” church. I’m not sure anyone wants to change, but (as long as it aligns with the clear message of Scripture) circumstances are forcing us to make some pivots. I guarantee you the pressures from Southern California will most definitely be different from the pressures in the Northern parts, but the constant will be the same:

We have to adapt the ways in which we accomplish the mission of the local church.

The days of an early service and late service with a Sunday school hour in between are rapidly slipping away. Do churches even have a Wednesday dinner anymore? Sunday night Training Union, followed by a rousing congregational hymn-sing, is in the recesses of my memory but practically an alien experience to my adult children who grew up in church.   

“Change” at church is a touchy subject, and we all have seen how the very conversations around change have spurred empathy, growth, judgment, division, and everything in between. Yet in every generation, faith leaders are trying to navigate through a plethora of issues:

  • Pastor-led or elder-ruled?
  • One style of worship or service options?
  • Rent to an ethnic congregation or fully integrate?
  • Launch a church plant or a satellite campus?

Sure, there are a few who would like to believe that scripture forbids a church to take a break from worship services on the rare occasion when Christmas falls on a Sunday, but the truth is, there are godly, good-hearted folk who can make a compelling case on both sides of that debate.

How-to books are getting dusty on the shelf, conference attendance dwindles, and no one is interested in the hot new “kit” because, it turns out, “one-size” does not fit all anymore. Well, not here in California, at least.

When we factor in culture, language, region, population, geography, leadership style, economy, and tradition, to name a few, the combinations become so innumerable. It’s no wonder that one-size solutions are discouraging. 

Consider the 65-year-old Spanish language church birthed in the rural orchards of Orange County that, over the years, has watched development grow around them. That church now likely sits in the epicenter of a thriving suburb of a Lebanese community that immigrated to the US in the 1980s. The mission to make disciples in their “Judea” remains, but the methodology has to evolve. 

How much easier “doing church” could be if we had no limits to land, population, finances, and seminary graduates. But friends, that has not been our lot for a long time now. We don’t begrudge our SBC family in the South because they have certain abundances. We get to try new things, learn (sometimes through failures), and re-energize a community to live out and grow in their faith in a way that works here in the West. 

Levi Strauss had a lot to say about pressing on toward success:

  • “The measure of success is not in the absence of problems, but how one responds to them.”
  • “Success is not the absence of failure but the refusal to accept it as an end.”
  • “Success is not about luck; it’s about preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

(and my personal favorite)

  • “Success is not about following others; it’s about blazing your own trail.”

Not every church building that stands today will be around 100 years from now, but we can rest in what Christ declared in Matthew 16, “upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (NASB).

Friends, move your midweek to Thursday, hire two bi-vocational leaders instead of one full-time, let the Korean congregation have weekly lunch in the newly remodeled fellowship hall, start that homework club, switch to small groups, move the smaller congregation to a different time slot and let the bigger take the “prime” hour… whatever it is that you feel called to try, try it. If it wins, great! If it fails, great! Learn from it and adapt again. We already know that if your attempt at a karaoke block party fails, The Church will endure….

…Long after this whole “Jeans fad” fades away. 

About the Author

Sarah M. Graham
Communications Director, CSBC

Sarah Graham earned her bachelor's degree from Azusa Pacific University and a Master's in Leadership and Business Management from California Baptist University. She currently serves CSBC as the Team Leader for the Office of Communications. Sarah is a mother of two grown children, Kirsten (26, married to Jake) and Daniel (22) and she serves on the worship team at Clovis Hills Community Church.

Home » Resources » Why I’m Grateful I Get to Wear Jeans to Church
CSBC Logo

Mailing Address

678 East Shaw Ave Fresno, CA 93710

Phone Number

(559) 229-9533

Email Address

Info@csbc.com

Connect With Us

Subscribe to TW@CSBC

Enter your email and every Tuesday we'll send the latest news, interviews, and resources directly to your inbox.

Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Subscribe to TW@CSBC

Enter your email and every Tuesday we'll send the latest news, interviews, and resources directly to your inbox.

Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
© 2024 California Southern Baptist Convention | All Rights Reserved