Mitt Romney, Harry Reid, Glenn Beck, Steve Young, and Donnie and Marie Osmond—the list of famous Mormons continues to grow. So much so that Newsweek recently called this "The Mormon Moment." Behind this sudden public prominence is decades of rapid growth for the Latter Day Saints, and few evangelical churches have much success in reaching them. Alpine Church, a non-denominational, five-campus church in northern Utah, is a notable exception. To understand what it takes to reach our Mormon neighbors, we talked to Steve Bennetsen, one of Alpine's teaching pastors.
What made you want to minister in Utah?
After attending Moody Bible Institute, I worked in a church near Chicago. I enjoyed ministering in that area, but I wanted to be somewhere with greater spiritual need. When I learned that Utah, apart from Mormon wards, is actually the most unchurched area in America, it grabbed my heart. Only one percent of the population attend an evangelical church. Utah is one of America's greatest mission fields. There is a smaller percentage here than in places like Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iraq.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
To understand the culture. At first glance, Utah looks like any other place in America. But the Latter Day Saints church influences every aspect of the culture, from education to business to government to media. The church owns the major businesses and media outlets. Every night, the news spins a positive piece about the Mormon Church. This religion touches every aspect of society in Utah.
How do you speak effectively within that culture?
Many Mormons believe evangelical Christianity is for morally-lazy people, for people who want to drink coffee and wear jeans to church. So one of the biggest ...