Updated: Apr 29, 2019
The Quick Check
This church is all about...you. Entertaining you, serving you, humoring you and adapting to you and what you want out of church.
While they don’t trap people in the bondage of religion the way other churches that have a similar outward appearance of grace do, the website reveals very little, so there’s no way of knowing what really goes on behind closed doors in this church unless you’re willing to go there yourself.
Ultimately, it’s just another consumerist Christian church, unfettered not only by laws and ordinances, but also by the Word of God.
So far I haven’t been able to get anyone to answer my questions regarding money, or any questions at all, so I have no idea what the financial situation is like at k2. I can say this: they don’t pressure online visitors to pay tithing or to give to the church. They have a page on their site for giving, and that’s it.
The Grace Scale
The Political Scale
Based on the worship service, the sermon, and the lack of transparency with the Questionnaire, it’s just another negative result.
The Full Check
K2 is one of the most popular Christian churches in the Salt Lake City area, so I had to check them out. Unfortunately, I had the same trouble getting answers from them that I’ve had with nearly everyone else.
To make matters worse, their website offers very little information about them, so trying to find answers to my questions myself proved to be very difficult.
The lack of information online as well as the stonewalled response to my Questionnaire made my suspicions of this church even higher than they were before I did any digging at all. I’ll do my best to get to the bottom of things though, so bear with me.
About The Church
When you go to the Our Team page on their website, they say this about themselves:
“Who are we trying to reach?
Don’t like church? Perfect. This is a church for people who don’t like church. We value what’s real over the show.
Been burned by religion? Jesus was too. Rules, good works, shame, no thanks.
Been in church your whole life? Awesome. Then you know that Church isn’t about you, it’s about loving and serving one another.
Been wandering from church to church? What you are searching for isn’t a place. It is people. We all need Community that knows us and loves us too.
Whoever you are, God loves you. Come find that here.”
Well, I will say this. I appreciate the blatant impression of being a gracious church. What I don’t like is getting the impression that in their lack of legalism, like many other grace touting non-denominational churches, they may neglect the Bible altogether, along with Christ and the glory of God as well. I will reserve that assumption for the sermon though.
You will also find this information about pastor Dave Nelson on the same page:
“The vision to teach high school and coach football got completely turned upside down while Dave was in college. At age 19 he fully surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and found that God had other plans for him. Instead, right out of college he started a youth ministry in Carrollton, OH and then three years later joined the team to plant Kensington Church in Troy, MI. After 13 years of various leadership positions at Kensington and picking up his Masters degree in Theology, Dave received an invitation to start a church in Salt Lake City. Leading a team of 30 adults from Detroit, they moved into Salt Lake City in 2003 and launched K2 the church in the fall of 2004.
Dave has been married to his bride Susie for 18 years and they love nothing more than hanging with their kids – Moriya 16, Ashlyn 14 and Caleb 12. His love for football is still strong and very quickly his collegiate loyalty switched over to the Utes. He’ll forever though bear the pain of being a Detroit Lions fan. Dave loves everything new. A new restaurant, a new menu item at a familiar restaurant, a new hike, a new place to travel. Most of all he loves the new life that Jesus Christ creates within people and loves every opportunity to join Jesus in seeing that happen.”
Let’s move onto the Questionnaire though. There isn’t much else to know about K2 from what I can find, so let’s get to the good stuff.
It’s been about a week since I sent the Questionnaire to K2’s staff. I received an immediate response from someone when I inquired on their website about some questions I had. A woman named Pam replied right away...but then I sent her the questions.
After three days with no answer, I decided to send a follow up email. This is how it went.
Me: “Happy Sunday Pam! Have you had a chance to look at my questions yet and maybe send them along to the person who can answer them? If you could just let me know where you're at on it I'd really appreciate it.”
Pam: “Sarah, I won’t have an opportunity to get your questions answered until Monday. We close our office from 3 pm on Thursday until Monday at 9am. Monday’s are very busy so it may be Tuesday.”
So, I waited, then Tuesday came, and no answers. I sent another follow up email.
Me: “Hi Again Pam, Any chance you've had time to get to this today?”
Pam: “I’m sorry but no. I had to forward it to our executive pastor so we are on his timetable. I can’t give you a date. If you need it urgently I guess we can’t answer at this time.”
Me: “No worries. I can wait as long as it takes to answer the questions. Who is the Executive Pastor so that I can follow up with him?”
Then, I got no answer, but that’s okay. I figured it out. It’s Jason Dunn.
Me: “Hi Jason, Just wanted to follow up and make sure you received my list of questions. I understand you're probably very busy and these aren't the easiest questions to answer, so no rush, but I would greatly appreciate it. I've finished writing most of my review for your church and all I need now is the answers to the questionnaire. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.”
That was 8 hours ago. Maybe I’m being impatient. My husband tells me one day isn't enough time to give someone to answer an email, but I feel like if they wanted to answer my questions, they would have done it by now.
Anyway, if at some point they decide to answer them, I can update the review. Until then, I’ll have to try and answer them myself.
1. What is your church's official position on tithing?
There is nothing on their website that suggests they preach tithing. They do have a Give Page, but so do all Churches and Ministries. They don’t preface it with a 40-page book defending tithing or refer me to a sermon they’ve done on giving or list a bunch of Old Testament verses justifying the preaching of tithes, so for now, until I find out otherwise, I’ll say they don’t preach tithing.
2. Does your church have a particular set of rules or requirements that members must follow or abide by in order to retain their membership status with the church?
Just like One Place Church in Hayden, Idaho, K2 has something they like to call Base Camp, which is a class that you can take in order to get “connected” with the church. Whether this class is required, whether there are a set of rules or requirements one must sign to become a member, I don’t know, but their site does emphasize that they hate rules, shame, and guilt. So I can’t imagine that is the case here.
3. What is your church's official position on the doctrine of salvation? Through grace, works, both?
I found this answer on their What We Believe Page:
“Apart from Jesus Christ, all people are spiritually lost and, because of sin, deserve the judgment of God. However, God gives salvation and eternal life to anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ and in His sacrifice on his or her behalf. Salvation cannot be earned through personal goodness or human effort. It is a gift that must be received by humble repentance and faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross.”
4. Are you transparent with your church's financial information? How much does your church bring in through donations and tithing, and how is that money distributed? What do your profit on average?
So far, it appears not.
5. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?
It appears they are non-denominational and I can’t find anything that says otherwise.
6. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?
I’m beginning to wonder if the lead pastor is who I need to be emailing, and find that out for myself...so I did. I emailed pastor Dave. Let’s see if he will help me out.
7. How is your church's doctrinal flexibility and tolerance? If a member has a disagreement with the pastor or leadership on a certain doctrine, how is it handled? Does the church change its position on doctrines fairly often, if at all?
I couldn’t find anything to answer this question, but based on what I already know about the church, I can’t imagine doctrinal differences is something this church has a problem with.
8. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?
While I don’t see any official statement claiming that members must be baptized, pastor Dave speaks on baptism during the sermon that I’m covering in this Check, and his language in relation to baptism sounds more legalistic than gracious, although the website and their What We Believe Page don't express the same attitude.
Nonetheless, the way he spoke about it in the sermon made me ears perk up, and I’m not sure how this church really feels about baptism based on that.
9. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?
I won’t know this until someone answers me.
10. What is the pastor's educational history?
According to the website, Pastor Dave has a Masters Degree in Theology.
11. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?
Once again, I won’t know this unless they answer my questions.
12. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?
13. What is the size of your church building and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?
Don't know this either.
14. How many members or attendees does your church currently have?
Over 4,000 people have liked and followed K2 on Facebook. SMCC Draper has somewhere around 2,000 with a confirmed 1,400 members, so I’m going to assume based on their Facebook Page, they have somewhere around 1,000-2,000 attendees. Impressive, K2!
The Worship Service
The worship service at K2 follows in the same pattern as most other Christian churches that aim to bring in big numbers every week, which is a worship service that glorifies people, their talents, and their show, rather than God Himself.
Before they begin the worship service, the woman doing the lead singing gets our minds and hearts prepared for an emotional, tear-jerking worship experience, and while the words she’s saying ring true and Christ-centered in my mind, as soon as the music begins, the video is focused on her face almost the entire time, and I find myself wondering how I’m supposed to focus on Jesus and worshiping God when I’m staring into this woman’s face.
In the comments section below the worship service video, which I was able to find on K2’s Facebook Page here, I noticed that there were a few comments that focused on the worship singer, yet nothing about worshiping God or praising God in any way.
This is exactly the problem I have with worship services like this. It puts a focus on the performers, rather than God Himself.
Sorry, K2. It’s a thumbs down the for the worship service.
Alright, here we go. Now we’re into the meat of the review, and can finally get some answers to some things. Let’s see what kind of sermon Pastor Dave will give us.
The sermon I watched is from January 20th, 2019. You can watch it here to see what I’m talking about and decide whether you agree, disagree, or have something to add if you’d like at the bottom of this review.
Just give me the Word of God, please.
Is the sermon topical, or a verse by verse study of the Bible?
It’s topical, and the name of the series is Think About This, with today’s sermon being called Grace and Truth.
Is the heart of the sermon about God, the Bible, The Gospel, Jesus Christ, or something else? What’s at the heart of the matter?
It starts with an anecdote about jigsaw puzzles that is used as an analogy for what Jesus does for us in our lives. Jesus is the picture on the box, and when we use Him for direction in our lives, it works.
Although I despise topical sermons and this one is shaping up to be just like all the others, I do my best to bear with him, since he IS talking about Jesus after all.
He has me up until he starts quoting E. Stanley Jones’ writings.
He’s actually building a case for us to experience and discover God through reality and other means instead of through the Scriptures. Because...God is present everywhere, not just in the Bible. And since people reject the Bible, we can’t use the Bible to reach them, so we must use other means.
Pastor Dave says, “...People are so skeptical of the Bible. Many Christians even today. They’re like, ‘I don’t really know if I trust the Bible.’ If we can only validate the truth from the Scriptures then there’s going to be a ton of people who are never going to actually believe. So what he’s saying (speaking of Stanley) is that you don’t have to just validate it with Scripture. You can validate it with life...”
Okay, first of all, I know this, and agree with it. When we’re trying to preach the Gospel to someone who rejects the Bible as Scripture, we can use other means by which to convince them through logic and reality and so forth.
There are two problems I have with this message though.
1. Church is not for convincing unbelievers to believe. It’s for Christians, and Christians believe the Bible is Scripture, and Christians understand its importance, and therefore know how important it is to be fed the Word of God. So if Pastor Dave is trying to convince us that we don’t need to use the Bible because God can be found and demonstrated through other means, it gives an appearance of avoiding the Word.
2. The fact that people reject the Bible as Scripture should not deter us from using and studying Scripture. We know it’s true, and we’ve been told by Scripture to have an answer to every man that asks a reason of us for the faith within us. It also tells us to test all things and hold fast to what is true. That includes Scripture. Therefore, when faced with someone who rejects Scripture, we need not accept that rejection and then try to use other things to convince them of God’s truth, although we can if we want to. We can convince them of the truth of Scripture by showing them the evidences and facts that support the legitimacy of Scripture too though.
Then he begins talking about a business book that helped him to be a better leader. He quotes it:
“Group culture is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. We see its presence inside successful businesses, championship teams, and thriving families...”
He’s got his whole church staff reading this business book. It’s sitting on his book stand in the middle of the stage along with his sermon notes. The business book...not the Bible.
So, needless to say, The Gospel, God, and Jesus, are not at the heart of this sermon. This message is about creating a group culture that allows that group to thrive.
How much is the Word used? Frequently, or sparingly? Is it used in context, or cherry picked in order to support a different message?
Before the Word is used a single time, pastor Dave quotes at least a few books and authors that have nothing to do with the Word, or the Gospel of Christ, or even God in some of them. It isn't until much later in the sermon is Christ or the Bible brought into the message.
He finally brings Jesus back into the sermon at about 18 minutes in, quoting Him out of context and with no reference to where we can find this quote in the Bible at all. He quotes Him as saying, “I have come so that you could have life to the full.”
“...and then He says, ‘and I am the way, and I am the truth, and I am the life.’ And these two pieces that Popovich (the business writer) put together, immediately I just said, ‘that’s just Jesus.’”
He continues by saying, “...if you live this way, you’re going to win. Here is the way of glory.”
I’m not sure what he means by “winning,” because the Christian life is not about health, wealth, and “winning.” That’s what this sermon sounds like to me. The Health and Wealth Movement. If that’s what he’s preaching, we should stay far away from this church.
He finally turns to the Bible at 18 and a half minutes in.
John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Unfortunately, instead of focusing on Christ and His grace and truth, pastor Dave uses this description of Christ by John to help you with every relationship you may have besides the most important one: your relationship with Jesus Christ.
He says, “...when you run into grace and truth, it is the most powerful thing that can happen in a relationship on this planet...when you connect with each other, you can be part of something great. If you want to connect with your spouse, with your family...and help change the culture, it’s grace and truth…”
So John 1:14 is being cherry picked to support the pastor’s topical sermon which aims to help us create group cultures that thrive. Not to be read in its own context and understood on its own within the Word of God.
Ephesians 2 is mentioned, but once again, only to support the topical sermon.
Colossians 1:27 is used, but only because the word “glory” is in it.
Then he uses John 7:38-39 to suggest that the living water (Holy Spirit) that Christ gives us provides us with the grace and truth that we need in our relationships with others.
Yeah, okay, it probably does. But is that really the point of receiving the Spirit of God? To have better relationships? It’s just another verse used to support this topical message of grace and truth being used to create a “group culture that thrives.”
Is the Pastor preaching the Gospel, teaching the Word, or giving a self help speech?
It’s mostly a self help speech about how to build a culture that thrives through using grace and truth. Eventually Jesus and the Gospel come into the forefront of the sermon since grace and truth is what we need in the formula for a glorious life. I do appreciate the preaching of the Gospel though, however brief and lacking in Scriptural support it may be. A gracious church is better than a legalistic one, so that factor is a positive one.
And he does go on about the Gospel for a few minutes in what seems to be the main point of the sermon. I just don’t like how much the Word is neglected here, and that kind of neutralizes anything good about the message in the end for me.
When the grace of God is only used to support a self help message, it’s not really about God, is it? It’s about us. And what He can do for us. For a better life. That’s not what Christianity is about. It’s about dying to self and enduring the miserable life, and glorifying God through it all.
So due to an overall neglect of the Word, the self help message as opposed to the message of the Gospel, and the twisting of Scripture in order to support the pastor’s ideas rather than the Word, it’s a thumbs down for the sermon.
The Grace Scale
K2 actually appears to be a very gracious church, with a possible exception in regards to baptism. They reject completely any and all legalistic practices of the modern day Christian church according to what I know about them so far, but at the end of the sermon, after all the talk of grace, pastor Dave said this about baptism:
“When you are baptized, the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead, is living in you, so that you can live a new life...when I was baptized, I wasn’t planning on it. I was in a service. I was actually outside, but all of the sudden...the Spirit just said ‘today’s the day. You need to receive Me. I want you to be my child. Let’s get ‘er done.’”
He goes on a little bit about it after that, but everything he says seems to only support the notion that baptism is necessary to receive the Spirit of God. CMC rejects that position, and therefore docks K2 a few points on the Grace Scale for that.
The Political Scale
I couldn’t find anything political about K2, so I’m putting them down as neutral on the Political Scale.
Scandals, History, & Controversy
There isn’t anything in the way of scandals that I could find at K2, but I did find this clip where they were featured in the News:
I’d say the controversy here is simple. Some churches, like K2, have decided to neglect the Word of God and the message of the Gospel in favor of entertaining, comforting, and selling their church to Christians as a product and a business that provides services.
While I can appreciate the graciousness of this church and the loving attitude they have towards all people, I was extremely bothered by the level of consumerism, the neglect of the Word of God, and the twisting of the Gospel to push a self-help message rather than the truth of Jesus Christ, which has very little to do with having a better life, but rather giving our lives up in the pursuit of Christ and the glory of God.
In addition to all of that, getting answers to the Questionnaire proved to be just as difficult with this popular church as it was with the others, and that’s a shame.
I’m on a mission to find Christian churches that I can actually recommend to people, support, and promote, but so far CAMPUS Church is the only church that has answered all of my questions and follows the criteria for a House of God.
Have you attended K2, or are you a regularly attending member? Did you used to go there and left for some reason? What has your experience been there? Let us know by commenting below!