CenterPoint Church in Orem was requested for checking by several of our readers, so we actually jumped on reaching out to them weeks ago. Unfortunately, the stone wall went up right away, and wouldn’t come down to save my life.
Based on what we’ve heard from Christians who’ve attended CenterPoint, as well as the impression we’ve gotten from them online, they appear to be another very large and popular church, and I was able to learn a lot just by doing a few minutes of online research.
But we’ll get to all of that. Let’s check this church!
When you go to CenterPoint Church’s website at http://centerpointutah.org/, the first thing you see is the first image in a screen-wide slideshow of what appears to be their current sermon series title: Get Over Yourself.
I have to say, I like the sound of that, but at the same time I always have my hesitations with topical sermons because they tend to avoid the Word in favor of the words of men. We’ll have to reserve our judgment in that area for the sermon review. Let’s keep looking at the website.
The next slide shows their service times, but that’s it for the slideshow.
Scroll down and you see what appears to be their mission statement, or vision:
“At CenterPoint Church we are focused on proclaiming the life changing message of Grace. Our desire is to make Jesus the Centerpoint of our lives and make Jesus known from the centerpoint of Utah Valley. We are a church that loves where we live and loves the people of Utah Valley. We invite you to come and see!”
Unlike some other mission statements that we’ve seen, this one puts emphasis on the words grace and Jesus. To me, this can either be very good (a gracious church, yay!), or very bad (another legalistic church trying to look gracious, no!).
We’ll have to keep looking to find out which one it is.
Website: About Us
When you hover over their About Us drop-down menu and go to Our Story, there are some red flags to note (emphasis mine):
“...By 2005 the church had grown to about 500 people in a place where there had never been a church like it with that kind of size and influence. Around that time the leadership of the church began to ask a question, “Is this all that God has for us?” It was at this point that a new chapter 2 vision was launched. Part of that vision was to relocate. The desire was “to go from a place where we were hard to find to a place where we would be impossible to miss”...”
First, size and influence are things that money serving and church idolizing institutions care about. God serving churches care about glorifying God, not themselves.
Second, “Is this all that God has for us?” comes off as extremely ungrateful, entitled, and money serving, to be honest. We should glory in tribulation and rejoice in the Lord while our enemies approach our doorsteps. One lost sheep is enough for the good shepherd to go looking, and one lost sheep returned to the flock creates celebration in Heaven. Who has the nerve to lead a church of 500 people, and then ask God “Is this it?”
Third, part of their vision became to relocate because they wanted to be “impossible to miss.” This also comes off as very materialistic. I don’t remember Jesus ever talking about what kind of church building we should aspire to acquire, or that would should even have one at all.
And yet, most of this church’s “story” is about their building and how important it is to their vision. This is a red flag, guys. One of money serving and materialism.
When we go to the What We Believe page, we can read all about their doctrinal positions on what they call the “Essentials” of Christianity. At the very top of the page is also this statement:
“Our desire is to focus on the major doctrines of the Christian faith. We believe we are at our best when we are focused on what we are for, not what we are against!”
I can’t say I have a problem with that, and I don’t disagree with their beliefs, but when we scroll down to read more about their Mission, there are a few red flags.
Under “We love one another” at the very end of the paragraph is the statement (emphasis mine):
“...We love people the way that Jesus loved them - unconditionally. In living out that commitment to grace and truth we find community with one another. In order to experience that community we need to come together for more than Sunday Morning Worship. That is why we meet in small groups that meet in homes throughout the week.”
This is worded very carefully in order to somehow work small groups into loving people unconditionally, but I don’t see it. You can love unconditionally without small groups, and you can love conditionally with them. You can find community with small groups, or without them, and you can love unconditionally without “finding community,” too. It seems like they were just trying to come up with a way to incorporate small groups in a way that upholds Jesus somehow, but it’s just not working for me. I have nothing against small groups per se, but in many cases churches use them to put themselves between individual Christians and God in their relationship to Him by claiming they need to be held accountable.
Under “We live for Jesus” we read (emphasis mine):
“Jesus said that He did not come to “…be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” When you love someone you give yourself for them. Jesus came and gave. We are called to a life of giving. That includes not only our resources but also our time and our abilities…”
And here it is, people. Here is where we can safely assume that CenterPoint Church preaches tithing and also expects its members to serve the church as if it were synonymous/equal to God Himself. Serving Jesus does not automatically mean serving your chosen local church. If you want to serve at your church, knock yourself out, but don’t let them guilt you into it by using manipulative language like this, which basically says you’re not really living for Jesus if you’re not serving the local church. Legalism. Yuck.
As a Christian filled with God’s Holy Spirit, you will serve when the Spirit leads you to serve and in the way God wants you to serve. That doesn’t always mean by signing up for something in a local church. Any service you do for others with the love of God is service to God. Just as any giving that you do out of love for others and God is giving for God.
You will give when you are led to give, and you will serve when you are led to serve. Legalistic churches believe they are in a place to compel and delegate how individual Christians choose to give and serve, but they’re not. That’s up to individual Christians and their God, not men/women and their churches.
Under “We listen to Jesus,” we see yet another red flag (emphasis mine):
“We have a relationship with God through Jesus. Relationships grow through communication. God has spoken to us finally and completely through Jesus. He is the Living Word of God. The way that we know the living Word is through the written Word, the Bible...”
This statement is very subtle and carefully worded in its implications, but it’s a red flag because the Bible is not the only way that we can know the Living Word/Jesus Christ.
Don’t get me wrong. The Word should be taught and understood in every church. The Word of God is absolutely essential for a Christian church to be fed and led in both truth and love. But we can’t forget about God Himself in our adoration of the Bible. The Bible is not all we have, and thinking that can lead to idolizing the Bible.
All Christians have Christ within them, the New Covenant is written on their hearts, not on paper, and we are guided and led in our walk with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. By excluding the Holy Spirit and our direct contact to God through Him, this statement forces us into a corner where we must rely on what this church teaches us about the Bible in order to maintain a relationship with God.
It’s good that this church places a strong emphasis on teaching and understanding the Bible, and I hope it means we can check them off as a church that teaches the Word, but we have to be careful not to think that we can only know God through the written Word. We have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, and He left us the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us.
As far as the website itself goes, there’s not much else to talk about. They do have a Give page, but no apparent arguments or reasoning used to compel us to give. Just ways we can give money to their church. That in itself isn’t necessarily a red flag.
Beyond the website, however, we found more information on the internet worth mentioning.
Their Facebook Page has a lot going on. On May 24th was a Date Night for parents where they had pizza and a movie for kids so their parents could have a “night off.” They also suggested donating $20 for the kids’ camp. Not sure what either of these have to do with glorifying God, teaching the Word, or nurturing a relationship with Jesus, but it sounds fun! (can you read my sarcasm?)
May 2nd has a Bible verse and a short video to guilt Christians into serving the church by using God’s grace as pressure. Tell me, CenterPoint, how genuine and loving is that service really if people are being pressured and manipulated into doing it? The Christian filled by the Spirit will give and serve as they are led by God. Compelling and guilting people does not lead to authentic service, just legalism.
Then on their YouTube Channel we found a couple videos worth mentioning.
Their “I Love My Church” video from 2018 is a red flag for a few reasons. First, the title. Once again we have a church trying to create an emotional attachment to them and their group/institution, rather than to God Himself. Why couldn’t they call it “How We Love Our God” or “CenterPoint Loves Jesus”, or anything about God? Because they’re trying to get people to find love, pride, and attachment to them, and it wouldn’t make sense with the content of the video because the content of the video has nothing to do with God. Which brings me to my second problem with the video.
It’s just like so many other church advertisements and commercials that we’ve seen. Focused on attracting people for their own selfish desires when looking for a church. Kids activities, awesome worship experiences, a huge beautiful building. None of this stuff, except for the baptisms, have anything to do with God, Jesus, or the Bible.
They also have Small Group videos or what they call CP Groups, where I get the distinct impression that Small Groups are actually a very big deal at this church. It may work similarly to SMCC where they consider you a group by your activity in, and service to, their church.
The last thing we found online to give us more information on this church was a news article that was published a few years ago on the Daily Herald. You can read the entire article here, but we won’t talk much about it yet as its information is mostly useful for the Questionnaire. We only mention it here because it’s yet another instance of this church showing itself to care a lot about its building. Too much, in my opinion.
And on that note, we’ll conclude the Website Review with a thumbs down. There are just too many red flags of money serving and legalism to ignore here.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this check, I was stonewalled with this church just like I’ve been with most others. Pastor Scott McKinney received my initial email with our Questionnaire on April 16th, and he responded within an hour. Here’s how it went:
I sent Scott one more email on May 29th to let him know I’m finally working on finishing my final review for CenterPoint, and if he decides to answer the questions, they will be included in the review by the end of the week.
Needless to say, he stonewalls with the best ‘em, church checkers. So let’s stop lollygagging. How many of these questions can we answer ourselves?
1. What is your church's official position on tithing?
While I couldn’t find any written information confirming this, I have a strong suspicion that this church either preaches tithing or some other form of highly encouraged/strongly suggested giving. Their Mission statement on their website was a big red flag that implied this, as well as the video I found on their Facebook Page where they use 1 Peter 4:10 to pressure Christians to give and serve the church more.
You know our position on tithing, church checkers, but if you need a reminder, read all about it here. If your church is pressuring you to give, they’re in opposition to 2 Cor. 9:7, which says that giving should be led by our own hearts and the Spirit, not compelled by others.
2. Does your church have a particular set of rules or requirements that members must follow or abide by in order to retain their membership status with the church?
While I couldn’t find any information on their website regarding this, like many other legalistic churches, they do have a class for new members to take to “Come and learn more about our story, our beliefs, and our mission.”
This could include a membership agreement or rundown of what the church expects of its members, and who knows what that entails? We plan on attending their next Starting Point class as soon as we can to find out for sure on this.
3. Are you transparent with your church's financial information? How much does your church bring in through donations and tithing, and how is that money distributed? What do your profit on average?
I couldn’t find any information regarding this either, but considering how many red flags of money serving and legalism we’ve already encountered so far with this church, I have a hard time believing they’re fully transparent with their finances. If they show any transparency at all, it’s probably minimal just like at SMCC where they’ll tell you how much they brought in from donations, but they don’t tell you how that money is distributed, how much the pastor makes, or how else they could be bringing in money.
Until Scott or some other representative of this church can tell us otherwise, we’re left to make our own assumptions, and this would be mine.
4. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?
While there’s nothing on the website that tells us this information either, as I mentioned before, the news article I found was very helpful with the Questionnaire. Namely in this area. It informs us:
“Centerpoint Church is a non-denominational Christian church for Utah County according to McKinney’s description. Its national association is with the Evangelical Free Church of America.
“I’m an evangelical in a reformation sense,” McKinney said. “It’s Christ alone, one God, one faith, one book – the Bible. We belong to Christ by grace and through faith alone.””
5. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?
Maybe. I don’t know. He won’t talk to me though.
6. How is your church's doctrinal flexibility and tolerance? If a member has a disagreement with the pastor or leadership on a certain doctrine, how is it handled? Does the church change its position on doctrines fairly often, if at all?
While this is a non-denominational church that doesn’t seem to put much emphasis or importance on specific non-essential doctrines, we don’t know how questions or disagreements regarding those things would be handled in this church.
7. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?
We don’t know this either. While the website doesn’t suggest any kind of requirements for getting baptized here, or in general, it might be something they speak on in their Starting Point class as an expectation of church members. Until we can find out for sure, we don’t know.
8. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.
This is what the CP website says under their Worship drop-down page:
“CenterPoint has two similar but different services on Sunday mornings. They are similar because they both have the same songs, structure, and message. For those who enjoy a quieter service of worship, we recommend heading to our 9:45 am service. Those who attend our 11:15 am service will enjoy a fuller and livelier dynamic.”
9. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?
While we couldn’t find out how many of their staff were paid or volunteer, they do have a Church Staff page on their website, showing 14 people and their positions in the church.
10. What is the pastor's educational history?
I couldn’t find this information anywhere.
11. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?
Another good question that won’t be answered until pastor Scott decides to give that information, or we find out from their Starting Point class when we go.
12. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?
As usual, we won’t know this unless pastor Scott decides to share it with us. We could probably come up with a fair guesstimate, but the important thing is that it hasn’t been disclosed, all while people are pressured to financially support the church.
13. What is the size of your church and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?
We did find this information through the article we found on the Daily Herald.
The church itself is 26,700 square feet and the size of the congregation in 2016 when this article was published was about 725 with “special meetings” reaching up to 1,000 attendees.
All in all, since pastor Scott stonewalled the Questionnaire and vital questions that churchgoers deserve to know have not been answered, we have to give it a thumbs down.
Typically, when we don’t physically attend a church we have a nearly impossible time finding any video recordings of a church’s worship service. Luckily, there are a few examples to look to when it comes to CenterPoint Church.
We found the following video on YouTube of one of their worship songs, Revelation Song:
As worship services like these typically go, you can see the praise for the soloist in the comments section. A great band, a great performance, emotional, and almost everything we have a problem with when it comes to modern day Christian worship services.
It’s about your experience and feelings more than actually worshiping God. And because of that, we didn’t care for the worship service music video that we watched.
For this check, we watched pastor Scott’s May 26th sermon. You can listen to the same one on their website here.
Before we jump in, it should be noted that the sermons at this church seem to be shorter than most. Most churches’ sermons last around 40-60 minutes. CenterPoint’s last several sermons have all been around 30 minutes.
Is the sermon topical or a verse by verse study through the Bible?
It’s topical. It appears this sermon is part of a series called “Hungry?” And this particular sermon is called “Same Old Thing”.
Is it Biblical? How frequently is the Bible used? Is it interpreted in context or twisted to fit the narrative of the sermon?
While it sounds Biblical to me in its message and interpretation of Scripture, the Scriptures are cherry picked to support the topic of the sermon, and overall the Bible isn’t used nearly enough for me to consider it a feeding of the Word.
The Scriptures Referenced in this sermon were:
Pastor Scott also quoted the Bible several times without actually referencing which book, chapter or verse he was talking about, so I’m not even sure if every Biblical reference he made was in fact contextual or accurate.
What’s at the heart of the sermon? The Bible, the gospel, God, Jesus, or something else?
The first several minutes of this 26-minute sermon are spent talking about In ‘N Out Burger and how their great success has been because they do “the same old thing”, but they do it really well. Pastor Scott says, “...It’s the same old thing every time, but the same old thing can be powerful. And that’s the lesson that we want to learn today.”
He then segues into how the family behind In N Out Burger is Christian and how they put Bible verses on the bottom of their cups and so forth, and then says “...I couldn’t help but think about this thing that Jesus created over 2,000 years ago called the church…”
He mentions how the history of the Christian church is incredibly messy and chaotic, and how he majored in Church History in College. So now at least we know he did attend college and majored in Church History.
He continues, “...there is a task when it comes to leadership in a local church, and the task is very similar to the one that Harry expressed back in 1948. It is “keep it simple and make it about one thing, and make it about the one thing we were created for, make it about Jesus and His Gospel. And when we do that in spite of ourselves, the church moves forward…”
The red flag? Speaking about church as if it’s a business whose goal is “success”. I don’t know what success in pastor Scott’s mind is when it comes to his church, but I’m going to guess it’s materialistic in nature, especially considering how much attention has been put on CenterPoint’s wonderful building.
“...today we’re going to look at a meal that Jesus eats in Luke 19…”
He then goes into the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, hated by many, but accepted and loved by Jesus. He gets into how Jesus loves those that the world rejects, and how Jesus knows what it feels like to be rejected. He goes on about the Good News for a while until he reaches a point that raises another red flag for me:
“...what is isolating you from God, and from others? Maybe it’s the love of money. Maybe you see some of Zacchaeus in yourself. Maybe it’s pride...maybe it’s physical pleasure…”
Something tells me this congregation is about to be spiritually manipulated into giving more money to their church.
And then he goes there:
“...Last week we talked about a verse that says God loves a cheerful, a hilarious giver. Zacchaeus is right there...he is a picture of the attitude that Jesus wants us to have when it comes to giving. I don’t have to give, I get to give...he no longer serves money as if it was a god, he uses money as a means to serve God…”
Money, money, money, you guys.
“...and Jesus asks of you today the same thing that He asked of Zacchaeus…”
He then makes a prayer and at the very end of it, says:
“...Lord, I pray that when we receive You, it wouldn’t just be a - the kind of thing where we’re free to live the same kind of life. Lord, that we’re free to live the life that You called us to live. A life of love, a life of sacrificial giving. Lord, change us. And use us, and makes us the people that You want us to be…”
So while this sermon touches on a lot of topics in all, I’d say at the very heart of it, is a message of giving, and it comes off as very manipulative to me.
Were you fed the Word of God, or the words of men?
No. While pastor Scott touched on Luke 19 a little bit and read cherry picked passages from a few other places in the Bible, this sermon was definitely not a solid feeding of the Word. He probably spent just as much time talking about In N Out Burger as he did actually reading the Bible.
Overall, while the sermon was technically Biblical, the subtle call to give more by using the story of Zacchaeus was money serving, and the lack of the Word actually being the focus made it extremely milky, and possibly not even that at its very best.
There was a preaching of the Gospel in the sermon, but because of everything else, I can’t recommend a sermon from this church.
Due to the subtle signs of legalism all over the website, the signs of tithe preaching, the strong pressures for members to serve the church, and the possibility of their Starting Point class including a membership agreement, we put CenterPoint pretty far to the Legalistic side of the Grace Scale.
We couldn't find anything to suggest this church leans one way or another politically, so we're putting them right in the middle of the political scale.
Scandals & Controversies
After quite a bit of research into this church, I wasn’t able to find any controversies. The only exception I would make is the complete stonewalling by pastor Scott McKinney of our questions.
With all things considered, CenterPoint is just as money serving as some of the other churches we've checked in Utah. It also comes off as very legalistic with its language on the website. Pastor Scott would not even have a conversation with us, so in the end, we simply cannot recommend this church.