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Utah: An Intermountain Mission Field

When you hear the phrase, "mission field," what comes to mind? Perhaps, you think of a far away place on the other side of the globe where nobody speaks a word of English. You imagine sights and sounds of bustling traffic on dirt roads and vendors with exotic meats. Smells of teas, spices, and coffee fill your mind. Or, perhaps, you think specifically of closed-access countries like China, Vietnam, or Iraq--places where being a Christian is illegal. Or simply, in your mind, you may think of a "mission field" being a place overseas where you have to cross a national border.

Certainly, there are mission fields in far away places where nobody speaks a word of English. There are mission fields in dirt-road, spice-smelling, closed-access countries. There are mission fields in places overseas. And yet, we may assume that there are no mission fields here in the United States. After all, this nation has seen several revivals and awakenings in the last 247 years of its existence. Still, there are places in this country that have seen no major awakening or breakthrough with the Gospel. The state of Utah is one of them. In fact, I will argue that Utah is the most gospel-needy area in the nation. Let me explain a little about the need in Utah, share how God has been working here, and then show how you can support the spread of the Gospel here in Utah.

The Need

As stated above, Utah has never seen a major awakening or revival in which droves of people turned from their sins and gave their lives to Christ. "The Beehive State" has never seen a major breakthrough with the Gospel like the rest of the country has seen with the First and Second Great Awakenings on the East Coast, the Jesus Revolution on the West Coast, or the Billy Graham revival meetings.

As of 2020, Utah sits as the state with the lowest number of evangelicals in the nation. Out of 3.3 million people, only 2% of Utahns (less than 70,000 people) claim to be gospel-believing Christians. To put that in perspective, China (a closed-access atheist country) sits at 2.36% of the total population being evangelical, with an overwhelming larger population. Meanwhile, 33% of Utah's population are a mixture of Catholics, mainline Protestants who reject the authority of the Bible, and a large number of people who claim no religious affiliation. Utah needs the Gospel. Utah needs Christians. Utah needs Jesus.

"But wait," you may say, "Utah already has Jesus, doesn't it?" That's right. At least, Utah has a Jesus, a Jesus of a false religion. As claimed by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, he's a Jesus who is literally God's son as the rest of us--including Satan--are literally children of God. He's a Jesus that is well-revered and well-respected as he serves as "our example for a good life". He was "Yahweh" in the Old Testament, but not one and the same being as "Elohim," who was the Father. Therefore, this Jesus ultimately does not deserve our worship and praise since only the Father is the ultimate object of our worship.

Certainly, this Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible, the One True God Incarnate. He is not the One who was prophesied about in the Old Testament or seen by the apostles. He is not the One written about in the prayers and creeds of the early church. He is not the One before whom Thomas kneeled and said, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). He is not the Word that was in the beginning who became flesh. This Jesus is not God--one in essence and co-equal in glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is not the Jesus of Christianity. Therefore, He is not Jesus. Sadly, the remaining 65% of Utah's population claims this "Jesus" as central to their faith.

God's Work

Despite the heartbreaking statistics, God continues to work. His Spirit moves as his Word is preached, and his church continues to grow here in Utah. For instance, in the last 6 years, Gospel Grace Church, the church I currently serve with, has revitalized and planted 2 healthy churches. Currently, as God continues to grow our membership, we are looking to help revitalize or plant a church in another gospel-needy area of Salt Lake City. Gospel Hope and Gospel Peace, sister churches of ours, continue to grow and aim to plant as well. Other likeminded churches in Provo and Ogden are able to sing the same song as us as they are working to plant churches in their communities.

Gospel partners continue to move into the state to help plant and establish churches. Everyday, we continue to safely say that there are more Christians in Utah than there ever have been. Some are Christians who have moved here from out of state. Some from out of state, in fact, are new believers who are introduced to the idea of "faithful church membership" for the first time. Others are those who grew up here, became believers, and are now investing their lives for the kingdom. Churches continue to be planted and replanted. The Gospel is spreading. God is on the move with his church, and the gates of Hades are shaking in Utah.

Your Support

What can you do to help the Gospel spread in Utah? Here are four things that you can consider doing:

  1. Pray. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers (Matt. 9:38). But be careful, God may send you; or he may not. Regardless, Pray for Utah. Pray that the Spirit would soften the hearts of unbelievers so that his Word would have an effect on their lives. Ask him to call out those trapped in the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). Ultimately, pray that His name would be made known among the people of Utah.

  2. Visit. Come and see all that I tell you about. Perhaps for a week or two. See for yourself the need of Utah. But also, see what God has been doing through his church. With Plant for the Gospel, the organization I work with, you can visit at a few pinpoint times in a year. If you'd like to visit as an individual, a leader in a church, or a potential partner, we have a "Vision Trip" coming up on October 4th-8th. For a youth, college, or young adult group, we have program weeks ("Plant Camps") in the summer where you can come, serve alongside the churches for a week, and get a feel for the need here. For college/graduate students, Plant for the Gospel also offers spots on an internship team for these Plant Camps.

  3. Give. A crucial way of helping spread the Gospel in Utah is by giving financially to ministers, churches, and organizations that help advance that work. "Plant for the Gospel" is great organization to give to for that purpose. You can also visit the sites of our family of churches (Grace, Hope, or Peace) to give to them individually.

  4. Move. A radical and yet Christ-exalting thing that God may want you to do is move to Utah and plug into a local church. Where exactly? Almost anywhere. Utah needs Christians who are willing to come and just serve as faithful members in both new and established churches. Would you pray about that? You don't have to be a "super Christian." You just have to be a Christian who loves Jesus and loves sharing his Gospel. If you are interested in moving to Utah for the cause of the Gospel, please connect with me using the contact page.

I am so incredibly grateful for God's work here in Utah. As the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ shines into this dark place, we know that the darkness will not overcome it (John 1:5).

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