'Beer and Bible' Launches in Mormon Community

There are a few places where you will find non-Mormons in Utah: pubs and coffee shops.

And that's exactly where Pastor Charles Hill has set up camp.

Hill, 36, was at a pub in South Jordan on Monday for the launch of his "Beer and Bible" meeting. It was a soft launch with five people but he expects it to "blow up" in the months ahead, he told The Christian Post.

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The meetings are meant to be casual – just common people hanging out in a common place, talking about God and Scripture.

The combination of beer and Bible may not sit well with many Christians but for Hill, it's about going where the non-religious crowd is gathered, building relationships and talking about Jesus.

"We go where the people are like Jesus did, and of course we are criticized," said Hill, who had half a beer Monday night. "This is the hardest place in the country to plant a church. They will not come to us. We have to be Jesus and go to them."

And in a city where some 80 percent of the population is Mormon, it's not likely pub patrons have come across any Christians.

His aim is not to reach only the unchurched. He's not in Utah to "defeat" the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – which is headquartered in Salt Lake City – either.

His mission is simply to reach those who need Jesus, he said.

It's been months since the young pastor left the church he started – New Hope Community Church in Loudonville, Ohio – to answer God's calling in what he says is the most unchurched state in the country.

Less than 10 percent of the state population is Christian and less than 2 percent is evangelical, according to Presbyterian Church in America.

In 24-plus cities in the upper one-third of Utah, not one non-LDS church exists, said Hill. The total population of those cities is projected at 160,000.

"That blows my mind," he wrote in his blog. "But that is why we and our team are here. That's why we were called to join the work out here and leave it all behind."

Hill hopes to launch a church in September, if God allows. For now, he and his team of "warriors" are sticking to the pubs and other public places to engage people with love and community in Jesus' name.

Pastor Tim Stevens, executive pastor at Granger Community Church in Indiana, says there's nothing innovative about Christians having a spiritual conversation in a bar with someone who isn't yet convinced but doing so in a community where there are zero non-Mormon churches is (innovative).

"You may disagree with the method or location – but these guys' hearts are in the right place," Stevens wrote in his blog. "They are going to rub shoulders with some people who they would NEVER otherwise reach."

And for those in the area who aren't into beer but may be curious about the Bible or have life questions, Hill is hosting a separate meeting called Alpha, a "10-week gathering that involves a meal, fellowship and discussion of what Christians believe in a very non-threatening way." Alpha launched on Tuesday.

Eventually, the meetings will move into a house or campfire setting to build community but Hill said they will continue to meet in public places once a month "no matter what."

"We will not withdraw from the world in any way," he said.

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