Epic Church: ‘This Is the Best Church Ever’

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 5 | Posted Aug. 29, 2012

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Atheism and agnosticism are on the rise in the U.S. Christianity is swallowing itself in a rash of anti-gay lunacy, Catholic pedophilia scandals and a general sense of stubborn anti-progressivism. And all over the country, there’s a movement to make religion cool. In Philly, that movement has taken the form of Epic Church, an evangelical outfit in which the congregation has come to expect “something different” (its tagline) in one of two locations, Manayunk and Center City.

I’ve been to Epic Church twice now, and while I’d never cast doubt on the church’s mission or frankness—everyone in charge seems like really good people with the goal of making other people good—it shows that, at some point, someone decided to hell with all that memorization and guilt—people want to like their church the same way they like their TV, news and relationships: in small doses, with lots of explicit video and easy-to-comprehend information.

Epic’s services begin with three or four Christian rock songs played by a legit band. The lyrics are projected on a screen behind the musicians so those of us filtering in can sing along. And we can do so with coffee, juice, doughnuts and bagels we just took from the vestibule. “Right? You can bring food inside,” says a woman ushering me into the Suzanne Roberts Theater’s main stage, where mass is held. “This is the best church ever.”

When the band finishes, everyone cheers them on, and we watch an infomercial about the church, projected from the same source as the lyrics. “When I first moved here, I didn’t know really anyone,” a 20-something year-old man on the screen says, hip-hop beats behind his voice. “I got a little flier in the mail, so I came here for a service. I really liked it and I’ve been here ever since.”

Lead pastor Kent Jacobs’ homilies are serialized over several weeks—each one comparing one or more aspects of modern American life to a passage from the Bible. Jacobs makes sure to add his two cents every few minutes in easy-to-understand terms, always closing with a statement about this church. For instance: During my first attendance, he relates Mark 8: 1-10 to the founding of Epic Church. The connection: Jesus turning five loaves of bread and two fish into a meal for 5,000 people was a miracle—and so was the idea to create a brand new church in Philadelphia.

The next time I attend, he’s moved onto Epic’s “Life Apps” series—a Christian take on phone applications, except they’re for your life (complete with a professional, projected video on stage). The theme is the one thing you want to change about yourself, which he suggests could be taking care of your family. Or maybe it’s to get baptized at Epic. If that’s the case, it’s easy. There’s a simple form. You can sign up to do so as soon as possible.

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1. pete said... on Aug 29, 2012 at 05:38PM

“Just a block north of Epic center city is Broad Street Ministry.

BSM offers an organic Christian worship service that is truly
inviting. They walk the walk in terms of Gospel teachings on
love, mercy and forgiveness, and do not expect anyone to
become obedient to a set form of theological doctrine.

Look at Epic's website very carefully before you attend one
of their "shows".”

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2. Brian said... on Aug 30, 2012 at 04:41PM

“Also in Center City is The God Environment (at the William Way Community Center). The God Environment is a "church located in the influence of God's children," and encourages our members to create a community based on the strength of passionate people sharing our ideas of God and Life. Pastor Donte Jones encourages a spiritual framework for self-growth, diversity, and sharing and receiving of ideas. Services also include music, video, and group discussions. We are small in numbers, but great in love and spirit of giving. Check us out on Sunday's at 2pm or online at www.thegodenvironment.org”

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3. rahshan said... on Sep 1, 2012 at 10:39AM

“Yes back to what was said I have been attending the God environment for a good bit and I can honestly say when I first came to TGE. I felt welcomed loved and that's one of the many things I've learned from pastor fonts. Before I went there I was at a church where the pastor would make homo jokes and slurs and I felt not welcomed felt like I was being judged and now that I'm attending TGE I feel welcomed.”

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4. NoSoulMan said... on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:26PM

“A hipper, more modern way to indoctrinate more young people.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Mar 8, 2014 at 06:20PM

“it infuriates me that the church is tax exempt and thus is able to give donuts and coffee and $25 towards baby siting for people to attend their groups. nice to know my tax money is being used in such a great way.”

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