Church Check: CAMPUS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah

Updated: Apr 29, 2019




Here it is! Our first official Church Check! And which church could be better than CAMPUS Church, where Pastor Shawn McCraney came up with the same idea for a Church Checking website that my husband and I thought of a few months ago!


Okay, in fairness, so we stole the Church Checker name from Shawn, but with his permission! And hey, great minds think alike, right?


Regardless, we have to be unbiased and as neutral as possible in our Checking, and the way we review CAMPUS Church will be no different than how we review all the others. So let's get this party started, shall we?


About CAMPUS Church


CAMPUS Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Murray, Utah. Pastor Shawn McCraney and his family moved to Utah from California several years ago shortly after Shawn started his own television program at a local Christian television station, the name of which actually escapes me right now.


The show, however, is called Heart of the Matter. Originally it focused on explaining the differences between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. Being an Ex-Mormon himself, Shawn dedicated years to studying the Bible, defending its truth against the doctrinal, historical and otherwise troubling characteristics of the Mormon religion. Every Tuesday night for years, Shawn would boldly confront Mormonism with Biblical Christianity to the best of his ability.


For years, the show was all about Mormonism vs. Christianity. Mormons, ex-Mormons, Christians, and people of all faiths and non-faiths would call in to the show and either commend Shawn for his courage and faith, or bash him for his nerve in confronting the largest religious institution in the state.


Then, Shawn and his wife Mary decided to start meandering through some of the local Christian Churches. What they found was the opposite of what they were expecting. Like many Christians searching for a church to call their home, they expected to find something closer to the opposite of the Mormon Church in every way that matters.


They, like many Christians, expected a focus on the Bible, a focus on Christ, and a focus on loving others, following the teachings of Christ, and feeding the flock with the milk and meat of the Word of God. What they found was the same thing many of us do: Rock shows, self-help seminars, sales pitches, the same pressures to pay tithing that we find in Mormonism, and a lack of love in place of judgment and control that we find in other legalistic religions as well.


Sometime around this discovery Shawn decided to start his own church, which began at the U of U for a short time, and then moved to 137 W 4640 S in Murray, Utah.


A church that would focus on the Bible. A church that would avoid all of the foolishness of the modern day non-denominational or Evangelical church, and a church that would put God first, for real. Not just as a brand or a slogan on the website. Seriously. For real.


With Heart of the Matter, the Mormon vs. Christian debate was put in the drawer, and the time for looking in the mirror had begun. Some Christians, like myself, welcomed the new direction with excitement and thankfulness.


But for other Christians, it was a complete nightmare. Looking in the mirror has been painful and uncomfortable, but it's what the Church needs. For the flock.


Shawn, Heart of the Matter, and CAMPUS Church got the ball rolling, and now it's time the rest of us picked it up and kept it going. It starts with the first Church Check.


To read more about what CAMPUS Church is about, watch their Tuesday night show Heart of the Matter, or their other programs and projects, go to their website at https://hotm.faith/campuschurch/.


And now enough of my rambling Onto the Check!


The Church Check


1. The Questionnaire


I emailed Pastor Shawn these questions directly and received a response promptly the next morning. I've added some questions to the criteria since receiving his response, so this questionnaire is missing a few of the answers. The new questions will appear in future Checks.


Here are Shawn's answers to the Questionnaire -


1. What is your church's official position on tithing?


"We teach that tithing is a term that means 10 percent and had application in the Old Testament to people living under the Law of Moses.  We reject the use of the term.  We also reject asking for donations, having drives in the church to raise funds for any purpose, and to pass a plate or even point out our donation box.  We believe that any person who wants to donate will and nobody should have their arms twisted.  We also live by the bromide, "where God guides, God provides."" 


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?


"None whatsoever.  We have no memberships." 


3. What is your church's official position on the doctrine of salvation? Through grace, works, both?


"All have been saved from sin and death by Christ's victorious work on the cross.  Faith in this saves a person to the Kingdom of God.  Those who choose to follow Yeshua in love for God and Man have been given the power to become sons and daughters in that kingdom." 


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?


"Full transparency to any inquiry.  The weekly church called CAMPUS is greatly subsidized by donations freely given to a sub-ministry, Alathea Ministries, which produces online programs, teachings and books.  CAMPUS CHURCH did not bring in over 15,000.00 in 2018.  Sub-ministry total donations were not over 52,000.00 in 2018.  Our first priority in the distribution of the funds is to pay our overhead for the church/studio (rent, utilities, internet, website support, streaming costs, fuel, mailing of books).  What remains above a $500.00 savings goes to Pastor Shawn McCraney.  In 2018 his income was no more than $14,500.00 not including $13,000.00 in reimbursements, totaling $27,500.00 in total income.  We offer all content and publications for free and Shawn and Mary McCraney have on many occasions personally funded certain expenses in the ministry when funds were not available (new computers, studio equipment, etc)."  


5. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?


"None."


6. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?


"Always."


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?


"CAMPUS Church attempts to teach the Bible verse by verse but leaves the interpretation and/or reception of the Bible up to the individual.  All are encouraged to think, to test everything the Pastor teaches, and are invited to openly speak their mind at the end of every gathering.  No hold barred.  Atheists are welcome to propose atheism.  So while we preach and teach Christ crucified and the only source of salvation, we encourage all people to come to terms with how they choose to see Him and elements of faith.  Our doctrinal stances change as new evidences demand that they should."


8. What is your church's official position on Calvinism and its doctrines?


"The Pastor despises Five Point Calvinism but welcomes Calvinists to the gatherings. Calvinists are welcome to share their views but the pastor will confront their expressions openly and hopefully lovingly.  There are elements to Calvinism that are beneficial and sound but the man-made system of soteriology is challenged frequently from the pulpit."


Onto the next point of criteria.


2. The Worship Service


The service I attended for this Church Check was on Sunday, January 27th, and it was CAMPUS' early service, or what they like to call their Milk service, at 10:30 AM. If you'd like to see the service for yourself and check it along with me, you can watch it on YouTube here.


At CAMPUS they do a Milk service for newer Christians such as ex-Mormons or people who haven't spent a lot of time studying the Word as Christians, and then a Meat service for Christians who have spent a lot of time in the Word and are in need of something a little "meatier" in their Bible study.


But we'll get to the sermon in a minute. Back to the Worship Service.


Every Worship song at CAMPUS is performed by his daughter, Mallory, but the lyrics are word for word from the Word itself. Or as he likes to put it, "The Word of God set to music." Mallory will take a chunk of verses and basically turn it into a song. It is literally the Bible set to music.


It's Biblical, it's not about you or me, or our feelings, or about the church's topic of the month. It's not about entertaining you, although the songs themselves are very well executed and entertaining, the focus is on the Word, on the truth, and on The King. Not you, me, the church, or anything else that doesn't matter.


It is also helps people memorize Scripture. When you put the Word of God to a catchy tune, you find yourself singing it at work, at home while you're cooking or getting dressed in the morning, and isn't it better to sing something like, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to Salvation"?


So for the Worship Service, Check My Church gives CAMPUS Church a thumbs up.


If you're curious about CAMPUS' worship music, you can hear all of it on YouTube for free on Mallory's channel here. Or you could just attend CAMPUS and hear it every Sunday before the service.


3. The Sermon


After worship, you don't see it on the video if that's how you're viewing it, but Shawn always allows a few minutes between worship and beginning the sermon for silence and independent prayer.


Then he jumps right into the verses of the week, which today was 1 Corinthians 15:50-51. This is part 10 of a study in 1 Corinthians that Shawn has been walking through with his Milk Service attendees for several weeks, and before he begins right where he left off, he summarizes the context and what has already been established by the previous verses in the weeks before.


Then he gets right to it. Verse by verse Bible study, reading the entire section of the chapter he plans to discuss this week all at once, and then going back to go over each little jot and tittle to make sure everyone understands exactly what the Word is actually saying.


The Bible translation used is the King James Version, but as you may quickly come to find out during one of Shawn's sermons, it doesn't really matter which translation he uses because he literally checks every translation to get every interpretation of the verse possible, the Greek, the context, the mood of the freaking writer...everything. It's almost as if he's obsessed with getting it right.


He goes over it in painful detail, one little statement, sentence, or even a single word at a time, to make sure nothing gets skipped, nothing gets missed, and nothing gets ignored.


After all is said and done, he reads every word, gives multiple translation accounts of the verses, sometimes even translating it into the Greek, he makes his case for his interpretation of the Word. He says what he thinks the Bible is saying.


And if you don't agree with him, he opens the floor at the end of each service to the congregation and lets them ask questions, if they have any. He lets anyone disagree with him, challenge his interpretation, argue against him. Every single Sunday.


The sermon wasn't about the Pastor's vacation in Hawaii, something one of his friends of family members said last week that inspired his new topical sermon series. This wasn't about him, his family, his friends, his life. It wasn't about me, my feelings, or a self-help seminar. I was in church, not a therapist's office, or an self empowerment convention.


I was being fed the Word. Another thumbs up for the Sermon.


Next!


4. Tithing


I'm currently working on an opinion post to explain why tithing is absolutely NOT commanded by God in the New Testament, but for now, I will just say that for a church to pressure its congregation to give tithes is un-Biblical. Whether they know that or not doesn't matter as much as what their intentions on using it is.


If they know it's not really Biblical to command tithing of Christians, then they're being dishonest in favor of making money. If they don't know, then the question of their graciousness vs their legalism comes into question.


CAMPUS Church does not preach tithing. If you remember from the questionnaire, the exact answer to the question of what their official position on tithing is was:


"We teach that tithing is a term that means 10 percent and had application in the Old Testament to people living under the Law of Moses.  We reject the use of the term.  We also reject asking for donations, having drives in the church to raise funds for any purpose, and to pass a plate or even point out our donation box.  We believe that any person who wants to donate will and nobody should have their arms twisted.  We also live by the bromide, "where God guides, God provides."" 

Another thumbs up. Next!


5. Member & Ex-Member Comments


Here are some reviews of CAMPUS Church from a few of its members.


"CAMPUS is the closest thing I’ve found to how Jesus and His Apostles taught centuries ago. Shawn’s delivery of each weekly message directly from Scripture is on point, succinct, and interesting. His Word mastery and Bible knowledge make his lessons so enjoyable. I’ve learned so much from him. This is exactly what I searched for in a religion which was more centered on self-improvement than learning Biblical truths. I wanted to learn about Jesus and the Apostles, not the past presidents of the local prevalent religious system here in Utah. CAMPUS is non-denominational and fulfills all my expectations of a Christ-centered Body of Believers! All past messages are available on YouTube within a day or two after given at the CAMPUS Studio Church! Just go to: CAMPUS MILK SHAWN CAMPUS MEAT SHAWN. The HOTM show is also available on YouTube." - Paula Edens


"I know that the church can't save you, only Jesus Christ can but I also know that God sends good teachers in our lives and there is church to fellowship with many believers in the KING JESUS. I highly recommend this church. I love the verse by verse teaching of the Bible. I also love getting into the Greek and Hebrew to understand the Bible better.

"Since I left Mormonism i have come to a greater relationship with Christ. If it wasn't for Campus Church I probably would still be in Mormonism without a personal relationship with Christ. Ya I knew of Jesus Christ in Mormonism but I didn't know Him personally. Thanks Pastor Shawn, thanks God and thanks Campus Church. My life has been changed for the better." - Patrick James Leyerie


"Sometimes God moves the hearts of others to bless the many!


"Shawn and the Church have been an exceptional example of commitment, love, and service as demonstrated through this ministry. Ex-LDS like myself are often burnt, destroyed, and in my case even isolated by distance through being upon another continent. This ministry breaks down the barriers, creates friendships over the distance, and is fantastically helpful to rebuilding peoples spiritual and actual lives.


"The teachings are higher than within many Christian churches, and perhaps some Bible Colleges? The enthusiasm for getting it right, and in seeking in spirit and truth - is exactly what is needed to those who have once been burnt by religion! An amazing church that I am happy to call home, despite never being blessed yet to have personally visited due to intercontinental distance and cost. Yet a respite from the storm, an informative resource, and a family of friends. It’s a beacon unto the World!" - Michael Lake


6. The Grace Scale



The Grace Scale at CAMPUS is pretty cut and dry. Another reminder, this was their answer on the Questionnaire:


"All have been saved from sin and death by Christ's victorious work on the cross.  Faith in this saves a person to the Kingdom of God.  Those who choose to follow Yeshua in love for God and Man have been given the power to become sons and daughters in that kingdom."


The fact that they don't preach tithing, they don't push baptism, they don't subscribe to any particular denomination, and they don't even have a "membership" of any type only further proves that they are as gracious as a church can get.


Thumbs up!


7. The Political Scale


The political views at CAMPUS Church vary widely by each independent member. Pastor Shawn refuses to take one side or the other publicly, admitting that his political views may be different in many ways to most Christians, but he adamantly opposes and avoids bringing it to church, which I can't say I have a problem with.


So, we put CAMPUS right smack dab in the middle of the political scale, since position and expression is off the table.

Thumbs up!


8. Church History, Scandals, & Controversy


As far as scandals, abuse, and money controversies go, CAMPUS is as clean as a whistle. Being an ex-Mormon with a fervent distaste for tithing, legalistic, organized religion and abuse, Pastor Shawn McCraney is careful not to fall into the same scandals that many churches eventually fall into.


However, anyone who knows anything about CAMPUS Church knows one thing:


Doctrinal controversies abound.


While CAMPUS is extremely tolerant of other doctrinal viewpoints of everyone and anyone, Pastor McCraney has taken to a few controversial positions over the years. He refuses to ban or exclude anyone for their differences with his positions, which prevents those lovely church splits we see so often due to doctrinal differences within churches. On the other hand, a lot of people have left CAMPUS over the years due to Shawn's unorthodox views.


Skepticism of the Trinity doctrine as well as being a Preterist at least as far as the Second Coming of Christ is concerned has sent many Christians running, but not because Shawn insists on agreement or compliance with his views.


Rather, it has been the Christian Community within the state of Utah that has attempted to enforce its own doctrinal positions on CAMPUS Church and Pastor Shawn. As a result of his refusal to tow the party line and obey Christian conventions, he has seen many CAMPUS attendees leave for the comfort of doctrines they are more used to.


Sadly, they do so at the risk of leaving an excellent church.


Conclusion


So what's the tally? Well, according to the Questionnaire answers, and the results in every criteria, there's only one thing left to do.


Pray that CAMPUS Church never goes away, and if it does, something equivalent better take its place, because if the Church needs to go to church, it should be THIS church.


Final Verdict:


Recommended!











Do you like CAMPUS Church? Has this Check been fair and accurate? Disagree with our results? Vote on CAMPUS Church as well as our reviewing methods by commenting below and tell us what you think!

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