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Scott McKinney Interview Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
October 17, 2021 9:46 pm

Scott McKinney Interview Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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October 17, 2021 9:46 pm

Pastor Scott McKinney of Centerpoint Church in Utah County talks to Bill and Eric about his new book and what it has been like to be a pastor in Utah for more than 3 decades. Pastor Scott shares some interesting insights in this week-long series.

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Hi, Bill McKeever here, your host on the daily radio show Viewpoint on Mormonism. Because many of us in Utah have been blessed by the programs aired on AM 820 and 95.3 FM, I hope you will join me on Friday, October 22nd at 630 p.m. for a dessert get-together to benefit Utah Partnerships for Christ. For information regarding tickets or sponsoring a table, go to

That's Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. But we're also very pleased to have with us Pastor Scott McKinney. Scott McKinney is from Centerpoint Church in Orem, and if you're not familiar with the demographics and the geography of the state of Utah, Orem is in Utah County.

Utah County has a very high LDS population. Scott, I want to welcome you to the show because I think you have a story that a lot of people should hear, and so we want to talk about your coming to Utah, what some of the struggles were in pastoring in Utah, maybe some tips that you can give to people who are thinking of coming to Utah, not perhaps as a pastor or anything like that, but there are certain things that people should know when they come to live and even minister in this state. So Scott, welcome to the show. Glad to have you. Well, I'm glad to be here, and thank you for the invitation to be on your show. Let's talk about your background, first of all.

I want to have our listeners be familiar with who you are, not only as a pastor but as an individual, and you've written a book called Keep Showing Up a Utah Pastor's Journey, and I might mention the introduction to your book is on Amazon, and if someone may not be inclined to read the whole book, I would encourage them at least to go online, find the book, Keep Showing Up a Utah Pastor's Journey, because the introduction and the afterword are posted online, and I think the introduction in and of itself hopefully will encourage people to read the rest of your story because I've been fascinated by what I've read in here and blessed as well by some of the things that you went through in just making the decision to come here. So let's talk a little bit about your background. Talk about your family. Well, my family of origin, my dad was an officer in the Air Force, and we moved around when I was younger but ended up settling in Southern California, in Rialto, California.

I'm the youngest of four boys. My mom and dad were just great, great people. They loved us. My family went through sort of a conversion, all of us, probably within a probably four or five-year period from the late 60s to the early 70s. My dad would have said before this conversion that what his goal for us was that we would be good citizens. One of the things that he wanted for all of us is he wanted us all to go to a military academy, and my brother Bob, my brother Bill, Bob graduated from Air Force, Bill graduated from Navy, my brother Keith went to the Naval Academy, and then I went to the Naval Academy and had an opportunity to play football there. It was really at the Naval Academy that I gave my life to Christ. I had grown up in a sort of a Presbyterian church that was heavy on sort of social action, sort of light on the gospel, and we sort of as a family experienced Jesus through really a period of time. It was really called the Jesus Movement.

It was big in Southern California where there was a revival, I believe, at that time, and so my family came to Christ through that, and I was the last one. I was a plebe at the Naval Academy, and I really kind of came to the end of myself. I just was doing poorly academically, militarily, athletically. I came to the end of myself and just became aware of my own sin and fallenness, and one night in a classroom at the Naval Academy, I reached out to Jesus and said, I hate my life.

I don't want it anymore. I'm a failure. I'm a sinner. Give me whatever you got, and I was born again, and it changed everything in my life. So from that point on, I began to develop a sense of purpose in my life, and I realized I didn't want to be in the Navy, and I ended up leaving, and I wanted to serve the Lord in some way. After leaving the Naval Academy, I was open to God, and I said, whatever you want me to do, and I also was dating a girl that was LDS, and that was really my conversion. That commitment to Christ was something that we had to reckon with, and we decided to go our separate ways, but I realized in dealing with her and the Mormon friends that I had in high school and everything that really we're dealing with a culture.

We're dealing with a way of life. We're dealing with when people begin to talk about their own Mormon faith, it's family, and I think what we as evangelicals tend to think of is it's a theology. It's a belief system, and it is that, but even more fundamentally for people in their experiences, Latter-day Saints, it's a culture. It's a way of life, and it's family, and it always always interested me, and I would do a lot of reading on the LDS church and LDS culture, and it just kind of fascinated me, but I graduated from Cal State San Bernardino, went to Talbot Seminary related to Biola. The whole idea there is I wanted to be prepared and equipped to do whatever God would call me to do, and the one thing I didn't want to do is ever be a pastor, but I remember being asked by a guy named Wally Norling, who was the Southwest District Superintendent for the Evangelical Free Church, what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I said, yeah, I'd love to pastor a church in Utah, and I'd never even been to Utah, but I just kind of, one of those things that came out, he kind of said, well, that's insane because churches don't grow in Utah. You don't know how hard it is, but what I did do is I became a football coach and a school administrator in a Christian school down in San Juan Capistrano, and after seven years of that, I realized that indeed I looked at myself and the gifts and the passions that I had, and I was a pastor. That's what God had made me to be, and so I for three years became an associate pastor in a church called Cyprus Evangelical Free in Cyprus, California.

Those were three very important years of my life. I learned a lot, and before I go too much further, I need to jump back and just say at the very end of seminary, the best decision I ever made, and my wife and I, Sarah. Sarah was a missionary kid from Japan, and we fell in love and got married and immediately began to have children, and by the time we landed in Cyprus, we had four kids.

My oldest is Jenny, and then Annie, and then Rob, and then Christy, so I have three girls and one boy. It was while I was a pastor in Cyprus that I found out about the opportunity to come and pastor this church in Orem, Utah, and the way that it happened was the church was dying. Found out from a friend of mine.

This is interesting. I had a friend in the church that we were in in Cyprus. His sisters lived up here, and they were both married to the same guy.

They were a part of a polygamous group. My friend Steve, his name is Steve Amy, led one of his sisters to Christ. After she got cancer, she ended up leaving the group, the polygamous group, and my friend Steve started bringing her to this church in Orem one Sunday when he was up here visiting his sister. The pastor of the church resigned, and there was talk of closing down the church.

It was down to about 25 people. Steve, my friend, said, you don't need to close down the church. I know your next pastor. He called me up and said, it's all settled. You're going to be the pastor of this church. He was really excited. We had been talking a lot about Utah and talking about his sister and just the opportunities of ministry in Utah and what being a pastor of a church could be like.

I had really not talked to my wife much about this at all. My wife was there when I got this phone call from Steve about this church in Utah that needed a pastor. She said, what was that? I said, well, there's this church up in Utah that needs a pastor.

Steve thinks it would be a great thing for us to look at. She said, well, tell me about it. I said, well, they got about 25 people and they don't have enough money to pay a pastor. She said, you're insane. We've got four kids.

What are you doing? You've got to be kidding me. Look around you, four children. You're talking about going up to Utah where we don't know a soul. You're talking about a church here that cannot even come close to paying a pastor's salary. That's why the previous pastor had left.

That didn't go well the way from the start. I went up. I decided to go up and speak at the church.

This was the end of September in 1988. I met with a group of people that were sort of the board of the church. It was just about felt like the whole church, but they met them in a living room. I just asked them, tell me about your experience raising kids here.

Tell me about what it's like to pastor a church here. The negativity that kind of came out of that group was just, it was like, these people don't like Utah. They don't like living here.

They don't like the people they are living around. This might be the most negative situation that I have ever encountered. It's a little easier to say that today because most of those people are gone, but it was just the way it was.

I remember calling my wife that morning, Sunday morning, right before I was going to go preach. She said, well, do you think there's any potential there? I said, absolutely not.

Absolutely not. I said, Sarah, this is the most negative situation I've ever seen. We didn't have cell phones. I said, we'll talk when I get home. I'm going to preach.

We'll drive home and we'll talk when I get there. As I got up and I preached in this church in Orem, I had this thing come over me. I had what I would call a, they are like sheep without a shepherd moment. God gave me a passion to come and be the pastor of this church. It was not so much about what I needed to tell this LDS culture, because that's clear. We're going to preach the gospel. What the church, what the Christians needed to hear is that we have to love the people that we live around.

Nobody's going to want to be a part of a church where the people there hate living there and they hate the people they live around. What I've tried to do over the last 32 years is give our people permission and beyond permission, let them know that we're commanded to love the people that we live around. As I drove around this area and I was awestruck at the end of September by the colors on the mountains and whatever, and I go, what is not to love about this place? The people are kind and the streets are safe.

And the streets are safe, but there's all sorts of things that we could look at that were positives. And so by the time I got home on that Sunday night, after driving on from Utah to California, I just said, Sarah, I think the Lord might be, my heart has totally changed. I think the Lord might be sending us to Utah. And she wasn't so sure. And I decided, listen, I'm not going to go without my wife. And so if this is a no, I want her to be passionate about this.

But if it's a no, it's a no. We've been talking with Pastor Scott McKinney. Scott has written a book titled Keep Showing Up a Utah Pastor's Journey.

Scott is the pastor of Centerpoint Church in Orem, Utah. And we want to continue this conversation in tomorrow's show. And we hope that you'll join us for that.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. Answering Mormons questions by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson deals with 36 commonly asked questions by your LDS friends and neighbors. It's a great resource for Christians who want to share their faith with friends and loved ones. Be sure to pick up your copy today at your favorite Christian bookstore.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-07 23:40:12 / 2023-08-07 23:45:59 / 6

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