A Visit to Irving Bible Church

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

While in Texas, I’ve decided to visit different types of churches. I’m a practicing Catholic, but I’ve always been interested in learning about different faiths and forms of worship. On Sunday, I went to Irving Bible Church, a non-denominational church that has more than 3,500 members. I had read in Saturday’s Dallas Morning News that Sunday marked the first time that the 40-year-old church was going to have a female preacher, Jackie Roese, give the sermon. So I decided to go.

The Dallas Morning News reported that: “The church’s elders – all men – spent 18 months studying the Bible, reading other books, hearing guest speakers and praying. They concluded that despite ‘problem’ passages, the Bible doesn’t prohibit a woman from instructing men in theological matters.” (Check out the varying viewpoints on this in the comments section of the article.)

I’ve always been fascinated by female pastors, having not been accustomed to seeing them on Catholic altars, and I thought Jackie Roese’s sermon was inspiring, uplifting and empowering. She encouraged the congregation to take risks that can help bring them and others closer to Christ. It’s better, she said, to be “warriors” rather than “wimps.”

Roese’s sermon aside, I was shocked by how big the church is. “Holy crap” was the only reaction I could muster upon seeing it. The church resembles a concert hall with a talented Christian band as the main attraction. There are two jumbo screens that flash the lyrics of each song the band plays. I’m used to relatively small churches that have a fair number of empty pews, but this church was full, mostly of young people. In the lobby of the church, which is known as the “Town Square,” there is a huge playground, perhaps a reward for children who patiently make it through the service. I’ve never seen a church like it before. I guess what they say is true: Everything, or at least a lot of things, are bigger in Texas. Especially the churches.