It seems we walk a narrow path between two extremes. Some churches believe church services should be prim and proper, while others believe church services should be laid back and relaxed. The latter thinks the former is "stuffy" and "uninviting". The former thinks the latter is "sacrilegious".
The following is a few excerpts from writings by R.C. Sproul Jr. Although he is talking mainly about dress and language, I believe what he has to say covers the whole subject very well:
The worship wars of our own day are driven by this same tension. There is nothing new under the sun. Do we gather together each Lord’s Day to worship the Lord with the most simple language? Should our music aspire for accessibility above all else? Do we want to dumb everything down so that everyone can get it? Is this how we bring in the lost? Or, should our weekly gatherings instead be times of erudite exposition and sublime aural harmonies? Do we, with the former, through our workaday media, communicate a God who is safe? Do we, with the latter — with our highbrow affectations — communicate a God who is inaccessible?
The Bible is a book that not only is full of wisdom but that in turn calls us to wisdom. Wisdom, more often than not, means balance. Wisdom recognizes that there is a real difference between prudent accessibility and the lowest common denominator. Wisdom can tell the difference between a foreign language and a challenging language. It is able to distinguish between self-serving, highbrow tastes and treating matters of import with all due dignity. It recognizes, for instance, that there is a great yawning space between a pastor preaching in a long dead language and a pastor preaching in a clown suit.
When we come together for a wedding, no one would suggest that for the sake of the dignity of the event we ought to perform the service in Latin. No one would argue that the pastor’s homily ought to be peppered with obtuse language fit only for the seminary classroom. Neither, however, does any bride dream of a day when a man in stained overalls, smelling of a barnyard, looks down at her and asks her the vows: “Well, do ye or don’t ye?” Instead, when we marry we put on our best clothes. We decorate the setting to befit a time of solemnity and joy. We play our best music. We speak in our most gracious tones, and with our most polished grammar. It is our most important “our.” Nobody, I trust, argues that this leaves people out. No one argues that this is somehow inauthentic. No bride would, if her groom showed up in flip-flops and a t-shirt, argue that she sees the heart and that what’s on the outside doesn’t matter. That is, the wedding ceremony is not to be marked by the world’s best and highest, but by our best and our highest. It is our most important “our.” ~ RC Sproul Jr.
We have begun to "dumb down" the Sunday sermons. We have opted to spend our monies on more "comfortable" seating. We are telling folks to "come as you are" with absolutely no dress restrictions. The important thing is just to get people into the churches to hear the gospel, right?
When David went to purchase the threshing floor from Araunah in order to build an altar, Araunah offered to give the threshing floor to him without charge. David replied "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.". Worship is sacrifice. Praise is sacrifice. They cost something! We give up a little of "our" time. We give up a little comfortableness. We treat the service with the dignity due the King of Kings!
I don't believe in the suits and ties, but I don't believe in the tshirt, shorts and flip-flops either. We shouldn't try to be "highbrows" who alienate everyday, ordinary people. Neither should we go to church wearing things we wouldn't wear if invited to the White House!