You won’t find a cross in CrossPoint church, holding services in rented space in the Linen Building on Grove Street in Downtown Boise.
There is no altar. No pews. There’s barely a hint of the denomination with which it’s affiliated. It’s United Methodist.
Such trappings of traditional churches don’t always appeal to attendees of new churches, because they may not understand the churches or hold Christianity in high esteem, said the Rev. Dana Hicks, CrossPoint’s pastor.
54Number of churches in the United Methodist district that covers Southern Idaho and Eastern Oregon
4,601 Total average Sunday attendance in those churches in 2015
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“There is a difference between American Christianity and the movement of Jesus,” said Hicks, who is most concerned about helping people focus on Jesus and building relationships with each other. “I don’t feel the need to acquiesce to the American version of Christianity to necessarily be a part of the movement.”
CrossPoint celebrated its first Easter on Sunday, after holding formal services since February. If it continues to grow from the 40 people who typically attend Sunday services, it will be the United Methodist Church’s first successful church planting in Southern Idaho since 1979, when Amity United Methodist Church in Southwest Boise opened.
CrossPoint provides an opportunity to pay more attention to church growth in Idaho, said the Rev. William D. Gibson, director of Strategic Faith Community Development for the greater Northwest Area of the United Methodist Church.
“About 60 percent of the population in the Northwest are not part of a Christian community,” he said.
‘A PLACE TO CATCH SOME FISH’
CrossPoint sits just 10 blocks from the well known Cathedral of a Rockies, a sprawling United Methodist Church adjacent to Boise High School. About 1,200 people attend services there every week.
With the churches so close to each other, Hicks said, some people wonder if they’ll compete for the same parishioners. He doesn’t think so.
By Hick’s estimation, there are 92,000 people who aren’t affiliated with a church in a five-mile radius of CrossPoint, more than enough for his church.
“This is the most unchurched part of the state of Idaho,” he said. “This is where there are fish. Put your pole down in a place where you are going to catch some fish.”
CrossPoint Chruch is based on building relationships where people can come and worship, and discuss their faith and what they are learning.
The Rev. Duane Anders, pastor at Cathedral of the Rockies, doesn’t see a competitive issues, either. His church has been supplying office space to help CrossPoint get established,
Start-up churches like CrossPoint are often research-and-development centers. Established churches can learn new ways of doing things from such experiments, Anders said.
“We forget that churches, like people, have life cycles,” Anders said. “Churches live and die.”
The Methodist Church is putting $80,000 into CrossPoint this year to help get it started. The denomination will evaluate what additional dollars to give in the next two years and then do an overall evaluation of the church’s progress at the end of three years to decide whether to continue financial support, Gibson said. The church is pleased with Hick’s initial efforts.
“He is the ahead of the game,” Gibson said. “He is getting a worshipping community.”
A COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL JUSTICE
Hicks, an ordained Church of the Nazarene minister, initially approached the Methodist Church in 2016 about starting CrossPoint. He felt constrained in the Nazarene Church to speak freely about social issues, such as sexuality. “The Church of the Nazarene, in my experience, has a very narrow interpretation of some social issues,” he said.
Since starting CrossPoint, Hicks has brought together people to discuss the LGBTQ community, to help his fledgling congregation understand what they are going through, though he said that gender and sexuality issues are not the focus of his church.
Hicks says the Nazarene Church will end his ordination next month and he will become a licensed minister in the United Methodist Church and work toward ordination.
Kelsey Wilber, who attends CrossPoint, had gone to the Nampa Nazarene church where Hicks was pastor. As her family prepared to move to Boise, she and her husband had not planned on continuing to go to church. But she attended a meeting where Hicks explained the new church and his commitment to social justice. “That is something my husband and I are passionate about,” she said.
Mattie Stewart and her Meridian family were drawn to CrossPoint by the church’s core value of providing a place where people can develop relationships and openly discuss their faith. Stewart’s family had been attending a much larger, conservative, nondenominational church in Meridian and was “looking for something more open and affirming,” she said.
At CrossPoint the congregation sits at tables instead of pews and is invited to stay for about 20 minutes after the services to discuss and raise questions about Hick’s sermon.
“What we were looking for was love, grace and acceptance of all people,” said Stewart. “It has changed our life.”
Note: Bill Roberts attends the Cathedral of the Rockies
How to attend
CrossPoint meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St. Child care available for infants and preschoolers.