The following statement describes the foundational philosophy of how we approach our ministry at Utah Advance. These principles guide everything we do.
1. At Utah Advance Ministries, we believe in the strategic importance of the local church in reaching communities for Christ. Thus our agency exists to serve and foster the church. The best hope for a community is the multiplication of healthy congregations. We believe in the propagation of new congregations of many forms to reach different people.
2. We believe that healthy churches practice wise contextualization, meaning that they discern the culture in which they are planted and adapt their means and methods to reach the people of that culture – without undermining eternal truth. Thus we encourage churches in the Latter-day Saint cultural heartland to study and understand Mormon culture in order to wisely frame how the gospel is best communicated and how disciples of Jesus are best made and nurtured.
3. We believe that there is much good in Mormonism and in the Mormon people which can be appreciated and respected. In spite of this, we believe that Mormonism represents an aberration from the true gospel and offers people a false hope for eternal salvation.
4. We believe in treating Latter-day Saints not as adversaries but as neighbors. While we disagree significantly on many issues of ultimate importance, we believe that our neighbors (of any faith) deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
5. We believe that Mormonism should be engaged as more than just a set of beliefs, but as an all-encompassing culture. We see Latter-day Saints as persons embedded in this cultural identity that shapes their worldview, epistemology, and spiritual practices. Thus Mormonism should be encountered in ways that go beyond comparison of truth claims or doctrines, to understand the cultural and social dynamics that shape people’s commitment to and experience of their LDS faith.
6. We believe that the historic Christian church has wonderful good news for Latter-day Saints, which should be communicated as an invitation rather than as an attack. Valid differences must be pointed out, but the gospel is an invitation to grace, not a demand for theological capitulation. Presenting evidence and winning arguments are not enough. We believe in engaging Latter-day Saint (and other) neighbors with grace and demonstrable love, in ways that feel like grace and love to them.
7. We believe that dialog with Latter-day Saints around matters of ultimate belief is a worthwhile endeavor that serves the larger purpose of sharing God’s good news. Yet we believe that forms of such dialog that take place in the public eye are not conducive to the honesty and depth of interaction which genuine dialog requires.
8. We will show respect and honor to other ministries seeking to reach Latter-day Saints with the good news of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether they agree philosophically with our approach or not. We believe that differences in approach or method are best addressed by building relationships.
9. We understand that those journeying out of Mormonism face unique challenges in finding a new faith home. Thus we encourage churches to make every effort to be conscious of and accommodating toward the often turbulent path that former Mormons must travel.