A Visit to Irving Bible Church

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.

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

4 thoughts on “A Visit to Irving Bible Church

  1. Hi Mallory

    Thanks for visiting on Sunday. I’m always interested in how folks “find” IBC.

    Yes, we are big but we try very hard to “think” small 🙂

    Were you able to find your way around OK? I would love to get your perspective on all aspects of the campus, worship service, etc.

    Bill Buchanan

  2. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I was able to find my way around. As far as the worship service goes, the music was by far my favorite part.


  3. Mallary –

    I echo Bill. Glad you liked it, especially on such a special day. Jackie’s sermon was great.

    Yes, the churches in Texas are freakin’ huge. IBC has done an amazing job of implementing modern production technologies to create a still worshipful environment.

  4. I’ve always heard good things about Irving Bible Church. If you’re interested in other churches where you might find a woman at the pulpit … Highland Park United Methodist Church has a senior minister that’s a woman, I believe. A husband and wife team co-pastor at Gospel Lighthouse in southern Dallas. My brother’s wife/my sis-in-law gives messages at their church now and again. They co-pastor, too, but she’s sr. pastor of administration, so he still does the majority of the speaking. Anyway, I thought it was interesting that you were interested in that. There are several places among the varied denominations with women ministers, and even more where at least the concept is at least accepted or even welcomed.

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