The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Start your own local UR church, the easy way?

This is my first visit and post here. I have read it over for several hours and it seems to be a place of like minded folks.

About 18 months ago, someone in Denver recommended I should go and hear Peter Hiett preach at The Sanctuary. It was transformative to me and my first formal introduction to UR. In a lifetime of Christianity, I had refused to believe in ECT, but had no idea that anybody was preaching and teaching that stance. Peter also teaches other theology that is a bit out of the mainstream but I believe has better Biblical support than what is in the mainstream. Peter has sacrificed a lot to teach this, as he lost a very large church in a very prosperous area of Denver when he was expelled from his Presbyterian denomination around 2007.

So I am now an active member of The Sanctuary but am perpetually vexed by the situation. My prior church has about 25,000 weekly attendance spread over 5 campuses. It’s pastor is a very good speaker and conventional in theology but he is not nearly as good as Peter Hiett. His theology includes ECT, which he mentions sparingly but even that is now too much for me. So well over 25,000 hear him speak when you include internet attendees, but less than 10% of that amount hear Peter speak, speaking a message that, to my heart and mind, is certainly more truthful and accurate concerning God and His love.

So, after discovering a total lack of UR churches beyond The Sanctuary, my thought is to create many. With modern technology, it should take neither a preacher or a musician to start a church. All that is needed is a laptop and a big screen TV and a willing leader. Start in your house or rent/borrow space in a restaurant or similar. There are thousands of downloadable praise and worship songs that you can play for that part of the service if so desired. And Peter has about 10 years worth of messages archived on line for the sermon portion. There are also tens of thousands of other sermons from other sources that should be suitable if screened for ECT content. Your ongoing job is to set up the TV, choose the material, and lead your congregation in prayer each worship service. And the main job will be to find and equip your congregation to care for one another.

I developed a mock web site, Grown Up Church, that has 5 pages or so of details as to how this might work. The “marketing position” of Grown Up Church is to be the opposite of “seeker sensitive” churches, which are now everywhere and mostly cookie cutter. To attract people who take the Word of God seriously, no matter their age or spiritual maturity.

I wish I was in a position to do this myself but most everybody I know now is at The Sanctuary already or has rejected it do to a lifelong belief in ECT. I imagine a world with a small UR church in every decent sized city that will then grow organically like cell division as the 20 member churches become 40 members and split into two.

I don’t see established churches ever adopting UR over ECT as very few pastors will ever take the courageous route that Peter Hiett did and risk their entire career even if they strongly suspect that UR is the truth.

So, it is up to those of us who do believe that God is better than most think to take action.

Hello, Trey

Welcome to the group! It would be great to have you post in the introductions category. (Your intro post doesn’t count as a topic for our one topic per week rule.) Very interesting idea.

Unless you’re unwilling to leave your current “tribe,” I might suggest that there are tons of people around you who probably don’t go to church at all, and maybe who don’t know the Lord at all, whom you might reach with advertising. Craig’s list is a favorite, and there are probably local message boards. John White (google him in association with house churches) is in your fairly near area and may have some advice for you. (If you talk to him, tell him Cindy in SD recommended him.) I don’t know that I’d be that “into” starting a remote church primarily to listen to sermons, but it may not be a bad way to go (or at least to start) especially if you’re looking to attract Christians who don’t attend a church. We Christians are very accustomed to having our meals served up to us all prepared and ready to eat – as opposed to going to the Lord to get nourishment for ourselves and to share – but don’t get me started on that. :wink:

Looking forward to hearing more from you, Trey, and again, Welcome!

Blessings, Cindy

(PS: Your first several posts have to get moderator approval, but after that you’re golden. We do that to protect ourselves from spambots.)

Hi Trey, and a warm welcome to you. :smiley: This is very interesting: I only learned of Peter Hiett and The Sanctuary a couple of days ago. Someone else on here sent me a link to one of his sermons about ‘fire’ (last Sunday’s I think). I thought, wow, how amazing to be able to be part of a church like that, that has UR as its foundation. My position over the last few years of being a hopeful URist, is that even if I am the only one in the church with the light of UR, maybe God will make that light grow in the church, or maybe not. I’ve church hopped quite a bit, never really feeling ‘at home’. I tried to just be content with online resources and groups like this one, but this wasn’t the same as meeting with other believers in person. In the Uk, there are no ‘UR’ churches as far as I know…but the church I attend now happens to have some of the leaders believing in UR, so there is much light in this church, even if the majority of the congregation don’t realise it…yet :wink: The message of UR is being filtered through slowly and carefully, so that folk aren’t shocked when it’s revealed outright in the near future I hope. I’m not sure if your idea would work, but it will be interesting to see what others think. Thanks again for posting this. Very interesting. :smiley:

Hmmm…This is very interesting Trey. I think your solution could be a stopgap measure, but I wouldn’t view it as a longterm solution. I wonder about Peter Hiett training up pastors to go out and plant the same sort of churches elsewhere? Perhaps the ministry isn’t large enough yet, but way back in the Jesus Movement days, that’s what Chuck Smith did, and the Calvary Chapel “brand” was very successful.

Oh, and welcome to the forum! :smiley: I think discussing how the universalist message can be taken beyond just the internet and books is so important and this is a great idea. It’s interesting that I think I actually attended some services where the Sanctuary and Peter Hiett are back in the mid 80’s while going to med school in Denver. :smiley: I might be mistaken, but I think there was a Presbyterian church in that building in the past. I’ve only recently heard of Peter Hiett, and I’m loving that he’s doing this in the area I grew up in.

All the best,


Edit: Looking at the map of where the church is, it’s too far north and west to be the church I went to. Oh well… :wink:

Is this the guy who did the “Flaming Toilet of Death”?

That’s really well done and one I hadn’t seen before, Cindy, so thanks! :smiley:
Interesting that he does mention “Hell” and the “outer darkness” which was the subject of Sherman’s recent thread. I would tend to agree with the way he uses those terms which are very MacDonaldian. :wink: The more I see of Peter Hiett, the more I hope this vision and preaching can spread. There’s such a risk when any movement is based on a single person or pastor, so though I want the vision and message to be spread, I hope it can be spread by a number of individuals. This could certainly start with Peter Hiett, but I would hope that pastors not associated with him would do the same sort of thing.

I absolutely agree, Steve. I know there are others who feel the same way. Plenty of pastors just up and quit (despite their usual lack of training for any other kind of work), and for lessor reasons than this. There are principled people out there who just can’t keep going when they feel they’re not propagating the truth.

Yes, I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes? Are there pastors in contact with Peter Hiett ready to make the leap? Are there assistant pastors ready to move out and start their own churches? He really seems to be a groundbreaker as far as actually being an orthodox universalist pastor (far more than Rob Bell) for instance… Would love to have him comment or post on this forum occasionally! :smiley:

That would be brilliant! OY! Trey! . . . .

I believe Peter is busier than ever these days as there are quite a few people viewing the “Hallelujah in Hell” video and he seems to be comprehensively answering most every negative assertion in the Youtube comments.

The reason I am putting out this idea for small video based churches is so that preachers like Peter Hiett (and more will come along if they can make at least a partial living at it) can study, preach, and teach exclusively without the huge burden of running a church. The small video based churches will need to be faithful to remit a good portion of their offerings to whoever is providing the teaching and music that is used.

Peter is, to me, a precious but limited resource. He is expanding his audience gradually through the video productions but, to my way of thinking, he needs a vehicle that will allow his message, if not necessarily him, to spread far and wide. And his contributions to theology go beyond just UR. To me, he has consolidated the good news into something beautiful and comprehensible all the way from Genesis to Revelation.

It took a year, but I was able to watch or listen to every one of the messages on The Sanctuary site, which go back beyond The Sanctuary to when he was the pastor at Lookout Mountain Community Church in Evergreen, Colorado. Maybe I have finally reoriented enough synapses to recognize most of the lies I was taught growing up in church. I find it very difficult to listen to most preachers because the errors, probably well intentioned, are now so glaringly obvious. That’s what led me to this site, I am stranded on a business trip this weekend and tried to find a church to attend and realized that no one else seems to be preaching this sort of message, so I started searching the topic for kindred souls.

Trey – in case I forget later (and I haven’t time now), would you mind posting that video here? Place it between {youtube}{/youtube} tags (using square brackets of course), and if there’s an “s” after the http, delete that. Should work. Otherwise I’ll try to remember when I get back home.


“The flaming toilet of death” was awesome. Thanks for sharing it. And his take of the lake of fire is facinating, great.

Great discussion guys. :smiley:

That was amazing, Trey! I linked it in another conversation here, shared it here and there, and posted it to my blog. Seriously – good stuff! Thanks for posting it. :smiley:

" Maybe I have finally reoriented enough synapses to recognize most of the lies I was taught growing up in church. I find it very difficult to listen to most preachers because the errors, probably well intentioned, are now so glaringly obvious. "

I find myself in this process, as well. It is what is inspiring me to try and start the inquirers Bible studies.

Well, I don’t need to “start my own local UR church” since I attend a church which is part of a circle of fellowship which sprang from a move of God which took place over 60 years ago. As far as I know ALL the leading brethren in this circle believe in the ultimate reconcilialtion of all people to God.

Although UR isn’t mentioned a lot from the pulpit (though sometimes it is), God revealed it to the early leaders long ago. About 30 years ago at a summer camp, I heard one of the leading brethren say at the dinner table, “I never could believe in an eternal hell”. I was shocked. I thought, “What have I gotten myself into. I’ve gotten myself into a cult!” I walked around those camp grounds deeply disturbed. Then it seemed that God Himself spoke to my heart, “Don’t worry about this. Put it on the shelf. All will become clear.” So I did that and was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the camp.

After I arrived home, it seemed that whenever I opened the Bible, I saw the reconciliation teaching there. I realized that when I had previously read these passages I was blinded to the truth of the reconciliation.

… and that is how I came to believe in UR.

That’s really interesting, Don. :smiley:
I really wish this was more widespread. The more I think about it, the less I think that Trey’s idea can have a real impact in disseminating Christian Universalism. I think contact with and teaching from universalist pastors is going to be essential. Unfortunately I don’t think modern media and communication alone will be sufficient. Real pastors (as you had, Don) are going to be necessary and perhaps Peter Hiett and a couple others like him will pave the way for others to start churches where universalism is explicit from the get go. I’ve wondered if this can start as branches from an established church such as Peter Hiett’s, but there may be other courageous pastors ready to start churches with a universalist theology on their own. I think the time is right for this and wonder if there is anything we can do here to encourage and support this. :confused:

The idea I present on the mock web site is not specifically for a UR church- it is for a Christian church that I believe would be “more Christian” than present church models. There is no mention of UR theology on the site. The idea came to me prior to my being aware of UR at all.

Using technology for preaching and praising allows a tiny church to have similar resources to a very large church at a fraction of the cost. It allows for true “community size churches” that can be free of huge buildings and budgets. Jesus had neither building or budget and I believe His church should get as close to that model as possible.

I was getting ready to start something like this when someone told me about Peter Hiett, not because of his theology, but because of his dramatic and intense style of preaching. I emailed him about this “micromegachurh” idea before I had ever met him. Then as I began attending his church and soon embraced UR, I realized it would be silly to try this in the Denver area where people do have the option of attending The Sanctuary and see him live.

But, as far as I know, there is only one Peter Hiett- I know of no other pastor that is preaching and video recording a UR compatible sermon almost every week. Hopefully there will be more soon, but I am saying let’s leverage what we have (over 10 years of video sermons) to offer people a UR church in those areas where there is someone willing to lead.

Churches are built on relationships. My sense at the Sanctuary is that there are very few people that got there looking for UR preaching (it’s not how I got there). Instead there are a lot of people who got there because they knew someone who told them it is a great church and then acceptance of the UR theology came later.

So, if we believe our UR theology, the commission is to take it into the world, not only discuss it among ourselves. The model I suggest may not work, but I can’t imagine anything lower cost/commitment to experiment with. The start up cost is less than $2,000 for a non-home location and possibly zero for a home based location. The time commitment may be large or small depending on circumstances. Services can be scheduled so they do not conflict with attendee’s existing church schedules so they can try before they buy in- remember we just need them, not their money, since there are no salaries to pay.

If anyone wants to give this a go, I usually have a lot of free time and am willing to provide assistance over the internet and would look forward to traveling to visit sometime after a church is up and running.

The reason I feel a calling for this mission is that God is One. I could never reconcile the God is one concept before understanding UR. God is 100% love and loves everyone 100%. He does not and never has tortured people endlessly. This is a message that I am thrilled and honored to take (and help others to take) to anybody in my path. I always felt troubled by evangelism that was turn or burn. People that come to God out of fear then have a huge hurdle to cross to have faith in a God who is love.