by Douglas J. Crozier
In my 12 years of service with Church Development Fund, I have been blessed to participate in international missions in Chile and India. I have also been privileged to work closely with the team at Impact Canada to expand the kingdom north of our border. I am sold out for global missions that continue to expand the kingdom. But in late 2007, a phone call from Steve Edwards, executive director of the Intermountain Church Planting Association, opened my eyes to a mission field right in our backyard.
I had never met Steve, but he challenged me to come to Salt Lake City to see the great need for church planting in the Greater Salt Lake City area. We spoke several more times, and his passion was very evident to me.
On May 8 and 9, 2008, Steve and I met in Salt Lake City with Marc Bigelow, president of Stadia; Bill Putman of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho; Jim Penhollow with the East 91st Street Christian Church planting group; and George Johnson, executive director of the Christian Evangelistic Association. From our meeting we formed the Wasatch Front Vision Team.
The Wasatch Front is an 80-mile long area that is home to 2 million-plus people, about 80 percent of Utah’s population. Sadly, only 2.9 percent of those people are in an orthodox Christian church of any kind on a given Sunday morning. Think of it: 1.94 million of the 2 million people in the region could be facing a Christless eternity if something doesn’t change!
During that first meeting, we spent major time in prayer, toured the city, and also met with the team at K2, a very successful church plant in Salt Lake City. From our time together, we decided to challenge many others to join us in the fall of 2008 to explore the opportunities.
Between May and August 2008, the Wasatch Front Vision Team met twice a month via conference call and invited more than 75 leaders to join us in Salt Lake City. On September 29 and 30, 2008, we returned there—this time with more than 40 Christian church leaders from across the United States. Dean Trune arranged for us to spend time praying over the city and began to lay the groundwork. The response was overwhelming and propelled us forward. God had provided the first group of leaders to reach the mission field of Salt Lake City!
After that meeting, we recruited more leaders from the Restoration Movement, and on March 2 and 3, 2009, more than 50 leaders met in Salt Lake City! After so many months of planning and prayer, God provided the leadership from across the U.S. to make this a reality!
One key congregation hand-delivered a major cash gift, and many others made initial commitments. Several churches began to discuss the various different types of new church plants that could be launched. We again were moved by the prayer time led by Dean Trune, and were blessed to add Paul Williams to our vision team. We have since recruited Richard Crabtree from Indiana, as well; he has a passion to reach out to churches of all sizes (not just megachurches) to get small, medium, and large churches involved in the Wasatch Front project.
Our strategic plan is being vetted with our vision team, and we are very close to releasing it. We have established a vision statement as follows:
Vision Statement—Wasatch Front: To develop a partnership of leaders, churches, and organizations throughout North America that will plan, resource, and execute the planting of at least 10 new multiplying churches on the Wasatch Front in the next three years.
Ultimately, we are really working to establish a movement of churches that will follow the model established in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
From the initial responses to our first two “Wasatch Front summits,” we are already seeing multiple church planting concepts gel. Many of these could become reality sooner than we anticipated!
• One of the potential church planters we are talking with has a heart for the downtown Salt Lake City area. Since Orchard Group and several of the partners have urban experience, and since downtown is one of the least Mormon areas, and since there is no Christian church serving this area, this is a likely candidate.
• The relational discipleship model established by Real Life Ministries (Post Falls, Idaho) works well in many of the suburban communities.
• Central Christian Church in Las Vegas is interested in planting a video venue campus, and the location for that is under study.
• A multisite model from Central Christian Church of the East Valley in Phoenix is also under study.
• Since Mormons have no paid ministry, a home-based missional model may also be appropriate.
So in a little over 16 months we have come together as a team, reached out twice to our leadership, and today we are close to formally launching up to six new church plants in the backyard of the headquarters of the Mormon church!
The entire team and the leaders who have attended are dedicated to reaching the lost and fulfilling the Great Commission in Salt Lake City. In the future, when you think of reaching out to a mission field or unchurched people groups, remember the Wasatch Front and Salt Lake City right here within our own borders.
We are currently in the planning stage for the Wasatch Front Summit III, which will be held in Salt Lake City on October 19 and 20. If you are interested in joining us to reach Salt Lake City for Christ, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Douglas J. Crozier serves as president of Church Development Fund Inc., Irvine, California.