We recently graduated our first intern. Madeline Tallman came from Tennessee to complete her 3-month experience in Utah in May. Maddie worked with Alpine Church and pursueGOD.org. She helped create curriculum materials for former Mormons, produced several videos on young adult issues, put on a week-long song-writing clinic in Brigham City, Utah, mentored two young women, and much more. Now that her term is over, Maddie has decided to stay in Utah – at least for a while. No longer under Utah Advance oversight, Maddie will continue to serve at Alpine Church, work on videos, and mentor others.
Our next intern arrives on August 15. Caroline Nix recently graduated from LeTourneau University in Texas. She became interested in ministry in Utah during a spring break mission trip in 2014, and became acquainted with Utah Advance at Urbana last December. Caroline will be assigned to work with Alpine Church. Her main focus will be youth ministry. She will be mentoring young women, helping with an inner-city mission trip, and developing online youth ministry curriculum materials for Alpine’s resource website, pursueGOD.org.
Caroline is working on advance preparations for her internship. This includes writing a statement of aspirations, working up a budget, reading key books, and being mentored. She is also raising funds for the trip. You can make a donation using the “Donate” button on the right (tax deductible), or check out her GoFundMe campaign.
We’re really excited about working with such high quality people as Maddie and Caroline. We appreciate the personal resources and commitment our interns invest in this experience, so we strive to treat them with respect and honor.
We have received inquiries recently from 2 other candidates interested in coming as early as this year, and 3 more looking at next year.
We’ve already been very busy in 2016 – too busy to post this back at the beginning of the year. I want you to see this overview of some of the ministry activities we’re already involved in this year and others that we would like to accomplish. The needs are great in Utah and the Intermountain West – as this map demonstrates. Thanks for your prayers!
- Recruit and mentor interns in ministry in Utah. We started laying the groundwork for an internship ministry last Fall, with our first intern arriving in February. We hope to see a steady stream of young adults training for ministry by coming to Utah.
- Work with pursueGOD.org to create and distribute resources to help former Mormons on their transition to biblical faith. PursueGOD.org provides a simple platform for mentoring conversations that will help former Mormons in their journey. We don’t have much up yet, but you can see what we have at the Mormonism Resources Page.
- Work with pursueGOD.org to create and distribute resources to train people to mentor former Mormons.
- Complete a book: “A Guide to Shepherding Former Mormons.” This is serve as a companion to the online mentoring library at pursueGOD.org.
- Organize two church planting Summits. These Summits, typically in May and October, gather church planters and church plant leaders from throughout Utah and beyond for prayer and encouragement.
- Create training materials for leaders of the Transitions curriculum. Transitions is a ministry helping former Mormons on their journey to a new faith home.
- Advise church planters, churches, and ministries as asked.
- Speak at events and churches as asked.
- Create and distribute resources to train churches in ministry among Mormons.
- Network with local and national church planting leaders.
- Put Utah Advance on a more solid financial footing.
- Expand regional church planter networks for regular support, mentoring and prayer.
I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s at the triennial Urbana Student Missions Conference. 16,000 students descended on downtown St. Louis to explore the ministry and missions calling God may have for their lives. Many of these students are looking for a next step in following God’s leading into missions.
I was invited to give a seminar at Urbana called Mormonism: Cult or Culture? A Contextualized Approach to Ministry Among Mormons. On Monday afternoon, I shared for about 35 minutes and opened the floor for 25 minutes of Q & A. You never know what turnout to expect, but this session was packed! Just over 300 students crammed in. Many had to stand. Others were turned away at the door. I spent 45 minutes afterwards talking to students and answering questions. Many more came by my booth that afternoon to talk. Because of the popularity of the session, the Urbana team made a spot decision to offer it again on Wednesday afternoon. Without little advance publicity, about 120 students came. The attitude of students in both sessions was great. They were thoughtful and caring. Many of these students have close friends who are LDS. They came to my session to learn how to understand their Mormons friends and how to share their own faith with them.
I decided to invest in a booth in the Urbana Exhibition Hall to share the work of Utah Advance. I was one of 250 missions and ministry agencies seeking to connect with interested students. The booth was open every day from 1 to 6 pm, staffed by myself and my assistant Chasen (a student a Utah State University). It became a great place to meet up with students who had attended the seminar. At the booth, we invited students to come to Utah for a ministry internship. I met a number of young people who are seriously considering this option next summer or after graduation, or who otherwise have a significant interest in Utah. I’m not sure the booth would be fruitful for Utah Advance if I wasn’t also speaking. But in tandem with the seminar exposure, the booth was a good tool.
During the week I was able to meet with several people involved in ministry in Utah, particularly those affiliated with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I met local students and interacted with campus ministry staff. In a few cases, I was able to have significant input in helping to solve life and ministry issues.
I’m taking pains to keep in touch with people who expressed interest. I’ve had three great interviews with students since Urbana, and one student has already applied for an internship. I’m praying that God will create a pipeline of people coming to Utah to serve over the next several years – many of whom will decide to stay.
Here is the audio feed, along with a copy of the notes, for my recent seminar at Urbana 15. It’s called “Mormonism: Cult or Culture? A Contextualized Approach to Ministry Among Mormons.”
Abstract: Latter-day Saints constitute a large, unreached people group. Their strong religio-cultural identity makes them resistant, but growing numbers are open to the gospel. Ministries are reaching Latter-day Saints by proclaiming the gospel in ways that take into account the unique LDS cultural identity.
Mormonism – Cult or Culture Notes
2015 has been a productive year at Utah Advance! Here are some highlights.
- Led a weekly training cohort in biblical and theological studies through CB Matrix.
- Participated in monthly dialog meetings with teachers at local LDS Institute of Religion.
- Hosted the “Think Outside” workshop for local pastors to help churches succeed at reaching people far from God.
- Created a video curriculum series on Living in Utah, designed for small groups or Sunday school classes.
- Attended the Exponential Conference, the nation’s largest gathering of church planters and church planting leaders, in Tampa, Florida.
- Taught a 2-week module on Cults and Apologetics for CB Matrix.
- Organized the spring Church Planters Summit, and participated in panel on Facing Family Challenges.
- Participated in a panel at the Ethnic Ministries Summit on “Understanding your Latter-day Saint Neighbors.”
- Graduated a cohort of leaders with CB Matrix.
- Spoke at the Transitions Conference about navigating the relational journey from Mormonism to faith in Christ.
- Helped a church design a support group and curriculum for people transitioning from other faiths.
- Made progress on a new book: A Guide to Shepherding Former Mormons.
- Published the Jesus Without Joseph study guide as an electronic book available on Amazon Kindle.
- Organized the fall Church Planters Summit, and moderated a panel of veteran pastors on persevering in ministry in Utah.
- Counseled with several former and transitioning Mormons about their faith journey.
- Consulted with several church planters and pastors on areas of strategic and practical ministry.
- Translated past training seminars into web articles on utahadvance.org.
- Developed a multi-faceted internship program for young adults and others with an interest in cross-cultural ministry in Utah. Approved the first intern, who will be coming in February 2016.
- Prepared to teach a seminar and staff a booth at the Urbana Student Missions Conference in St.Louis, MO – December 27-31.