A church that recently relocated to Bixby, Oklahoma, is facing action from the city if church leaders do not take sufficient measures to tone down the noise created by the church’s worship services. So far Transformation Church (TC) has had to pay $3,200 in fines for noise citations because of complaints from people who live directly behind the church building.
“You read the books of Matthew and Romans, it talks about loving your neighbor,” said Phil Frazier, attorney for the city, to ABC News affiliate KTUL, “and that’s what we’re asking them to do.”
Transformation Church Moves to Bixby
In August 2019, Pastor Michael Todd announced that Transformation Church had purchased the Spirit Bank Event Center in Bixby, Oklahoma, for $10.5 million. The building has a 35,000 square foot arena, and Todd said the new facility would help the church sustain the level of attendance they were seeing every week, which is now around 4,500 to 5,000 people. “Last year we went from one service to five services in one year,” he said. “I was panicking—what are we gonna do? It was hard to get in and out, we had to turn over, I had to preach a whole bunch and lost ten pounds every Sunday. We knew we had to believe for more, but God has exceeded our expectations.”
A manager at a local pizzeria told KTUL at the time that he was looking forward to the business the church would bring to Bixby. “It’s nice,” said Morgan Shoemake, “because I feel like with that type of crowd, it will be a very genuine crowd, nice people coming in ready to eat some good food.” Frazier agreed that the presence of the church is good for the city of Bixby: “That’s 4,500 to 5,000 people coming into the city that weren’t coming into the city before. That’s good for business.”
But the lawyer is clearly frustrated with the ongoing difficulty of resolving the tension between the church and people living in the neighborhood directly behind it. The noise is so loud on Sundays, he said, that if someone in a house behind the church has coffee sitting on a counter, the liquid will vibrate. He and city leaders met with TC on Monday, February 10, attempting to resolve the issue, and ended up passing a noise abatement, giving the church 15 days to figure out how to be quieter on Sunday mornings.
Since that meeting, Transformation Church has taken several steps to be less disruptive to its neighbors and has also given Frazier a list of its plans to lessen its noise output. TC first attempted to substitute the speakers it was using for heavier ones, but the noise was so loud, the speakers fell out of the ceiling.
An idea that Frazier is in favor of is building a concrete wall behind the event center since the building’s current outer wall is made of tin. He said, “The only thing that is going to take care of the bass and the church has agreed to do it, if that is what it takes, is to build a concrete wall, with space between the tin wall and the concrete because it is the space that kills the sound.”
The church hopes to have the noise issue solved by December. Frazier noted that, in the meantime, one solution the church has yet to implement is simply turning the bass down.
The noise Transformation Church is creating has resulted in almost 100 complaints, leading to 32 citations from the city at a cost of $100 each. The complaints have primarily come from four neighbors living behind the church. TC has paid all of the fines, even though they were issued to specific church employees. The neighbors who issued the complaints were not willing to go on record, and the neighborhood HOA, as well as TC, did not offer any statements.
According to the Christian Post, the Bixby city council will meet on March 9 to determine if it needs to take any further action against TC. Frazier emphasized the city does not want the church to leave. He said, “We want this church to stay here but turn the volume down.”
At least one person agrees that the noise complaints are an opportunity to live out the second greatest commandment. Commenting on one of the church’s Facebook posts, he wrote, “Guys, let’s represent God to the lost well, we can do that in part by respectfully responding to our neighbors and city. We may not agree with them, but we need to represent Christ well! Showing up and being actively involved in conversation and solutions is part of that! I love who you are and what you do! Let’s agree to do it better!”