“God does work in mysterious ways,” says Scott Stein, pastor at Christ the King, South Jordan, Utah. “My having previously lived and worked in Utah for 21 years as a lay person and engineer has been a great asset for ministry here, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints represents 60 to 90 per cent of the population in Salt lake County.”
More importantly, the Holy Spirit was preparing Stein who, upon graduation from seminary in 2003, was not yet ready to see himself as a mission developer. After two-and-a-half years in a first call congregation, Stein began thinking and praying about South Jordan, which did not yet have a mission developer. Stein and his wife, Marjean, became convinced that God was calling them to South Jordan.
Not only was the Holy Spirit at work long‑term, the Rocky Mountain Synod and Mission Partners were praying and planning more than 10 years before Christ the King was started. The Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit of the ELCA stood ready to provide the salary package for a mission developer.
This planning anticipated population growth of 60,000 in South Jordan and the rest of southwestern Salt Lake County over 10 years.
Beginning in September 2006, Stein made advance preparations for Christ the King by knocking on more than 7,000 doors, organizing community Bible studies, renting worship space, gathering supplies, and informing other Utah Lutherans about the new mission development.
Christ the King began to offer worship services in a movie theater on Palm Sunday, April 1, 2007. The congregation remained there for 19 months before moving to a strip mall on Reformation Sunday 2008.
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Salt Lake City, serves as Christ the King's Mission Partner. Zion tithed $30,000 from its $300,000 capital campaign to Christ the King, continues to send $100 monthly, and has shared its choir in worship. Eight additional Utah congregations provided prayer and financial support. Other individuals and congregations from Alaska, Florida, and Colorado have also contributed prayer and material assistance.
All of this planning and support has allowed Christ the King the time and resources to develop relationships with individuals and surrounding congregations. “Moving to our own worship facility has been a blessing,” Stein said. “It seems that we are in a second stage of development with a much more permanent presence now.”
Stein advises that “a mission development is not something that happens overnight. It takes persistence and faith to develop relationships with people, so that they feel 'at home.' Sometimes people have been searching for a place they feel welcome and comfortable fitting in, and when they find that place there is great joy!”