Steve Pierson always prayed that his church in Utah County would look like the surrounding community, but he never imagined that would involve seeing individuals from a nearby polygamist community come to Christ.
“We thought, well, just preach the gospel,” said Pierson, “and now we’re watching polygamists leave their community like never before.”
It started when a couple from the Apostolic United Brethren community, a Mormon fundamentalist group that still practices polygamy, began attending Redemption Hill Church in January of 2023. This couple eventually put their faith in Jesus Christ, led the husband’s brother to the Lord, and introduced friends to Redemption Hill who also gave their lives to Christ. Now, these new believers are going back to their communities and boldly planting seeds of the gospel.
But conversions among the polygamist community are just one facet of a larger story, Pierson said. God is also at work among the mainstream Mormons, known as Latter Day Saints (LDS), in their community. Eighty percent of the population in Utah County, where the Piersons planted Redemption Hill Church in 2017, ascribes to the Mormon faith, but it was not until the Covid-19 pandemic that the church began to see Mormons attend and come to faith in Christ.
During the pandemic, when Mormon temples were shut down, Redemption Hill’s online services started gaining up to 8,000 viewers.
“In this community, online services are huge because they can watch in secret,” Pierson said. “They’re watching for a while, and then once they’re watching, then they start visiting and then they come out [of Mormonism].”
While Pierson describes Utah County’s Mormons as young, progressive and open, their community as a whole faces serious challenges like high suicide, bankruptcy and pornography consumption rates.
“It’s a very closed and hidden culture,” Pierson said, “so everyone holds things inside they don’t know what to do with. The women are taking antidepressants at three times the national average and the men are just not saying anything, but everybody’s playing the game.”
When Mormons attend Redemption Hill, they are often surprised by the willingness of others to share their life experiences and struggle. This openness has led to a growing movement of individuals leaving the Mormon faith and embracing Christianity. In fact, among the 300-plus attendees of Redemption Hill Church, 40% are now former Mormons.
Every week since February of this year, new families have attended Redemption Hill and heard the gospel, leading to professions of faith nearly every Sunday. The church is on track to see over 70 baptisms this year, many of which are baptisms of ex-Mormons.
Because of this movement among the Mormons, Redemption Hill Church is already outgrowing the building they moved into earlier this year. They are finding creative solutions like using a tiny house classroom and a tent for kid’s ministry to continue to accommodate the expanding congregation.
“We’re just lining up trailers in the parking lot because we need space for kids,” laughed Pierson.
Even with the recent growth, rather than hoarding ministry leaders to themselves, Redemption Hill is intentionally sending out church planters from their own congregation. In the past five years, they have planted two churches in Utah and one in Colorado. The church has two more planters currently in their pipeline and anticipates planting another church in 2024. Pierson said, “That’s part of our DNA, our perpetual outreach.”
In fact, he’s already dreaming of the day when the Redemption Hill could send their first ex-Mormon to plant a church. Naming off several active church members who’ve left Mormonism who he could see one day planting a church, Pierson commented, “I 100% believe that that will be likely.”
The harvest in Utah is ripe, emphasized Pierson. He said, “If you want to be able to speak the language and go to an unreached people group, go to Utah right now.”
To find out more about becoming a church planter with Send Network, check out the Church Planter Pathway. If you want to learn more about how God can use your church to send out planters and plant more churches, visit SendNetwork.com/Mobilize.
Published October 23, 2023