When he heard knocking at the door, he opened his heart to God

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

Cameron Hull opened his front door, not knowing the man on the other side would help Hull open his heart to God.

That man was Derrick Smothers, who is planting Oasis Church in St. George, Utah, which is scheduled to open this fall. The two neighbors instantly bonded as they chatted.

"He just had this homey vibe," Hull said of Smothers. "It felt like I've known this guy all my life."

After that first connection, Hull asked Smothers to meet again so they could share their stories and get to know each other. Next, Hull asked the Converge pastor to disciple him once a week. 

Now, Hull and his wife, Megan, are members of the Oasis Church core team. Hull joined the mission so people who grew up in a Latter-day Saints community like he did can ask the questions they have about God and Scripture.

He said that because of Oasis Church, "you're getting an opportunity to have a conversation about God. "

Home groups exist to grow together, give away God's love

Smothers-Oasis-Church-UtahSmothers and his wife, June, intentionally focus on a home group of about 20 people who gather in their house.

"We're going to launch out of our small group ministry," Smothers said. 

He aims to see those groups multiply so that more people like the Hulls can find personal relationships, connect with God, and deepen their faith.

 They meet on Sundays so people can exercise their spiritual gifts in the community and sacrificially serve the city. Their ministry includes asking community members and school staff what the town along Highway 7 needs.

"We just want to love people the way God's called us to," he said. "I'm expressing this deep love that God has. We want people to tangibly feel that."

New hope requires asking heart questions

Hull said he appreciates aspects of faith from his time in Latter-day Saints wards. Still, he said many people hide their heart questions from leaders in the LDS hierarchy.

Yet Hull said there aren't as many churches as these spiritually hungry people need. He said there are two Christian churches within 40 minutes of his home, but Oasis Church is the first one he and his family felt comfortable with.


We just want to love people the way God's called us to. I'm expressing this deep love that God has. We want people to tangibly feel that.

Derrick Smothers

Part of what he and his wife sought in a church was a homey church. They wanted relationships where people warmly connect at a heart level. He and his wife never quit having faith, but they stopped going to worship after they moved to Utah in 2013.

That all changed when Derrick Smothers started going door-to-door in 2023. He and June, who also planted a church once before, sensed the spiritual opportunity all over St. George.

St. George has the millionaires and the miserable

Nineteen percent of the city's population has retired, but an elementary and technical high school and Utah Tech University influence families and young adults.

Numerous restaurants, banks and businesses are opening in the rapidly growing city of 90,000. Two hospitals are also under construction to serve people who live two hours from Las Vegas, Nevada, and four hours from the Grand Canyon.

Some people here own million-dollar homes with landscaping that blends into the earth so people can 'vibe off the rocks,' Smothers said. Few materially poor people live in this part of Utah, but many are relationally poor and struggle against shame, despair, and guilt.

The high level of religion in Utah isn't helping people find Jesus, because human behavior amounts to people trying to save themselves or convince God to accept them. 

"You can't find new life in all the religious work you're doing," he explained. 

Eventually, many reject the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and turn to alcohol, drugs, porn or other harmful habits. Nearly 70% of the Desert Canyon residents who talked with Smothers said they don't attend church.

"We want to see that spiritual landscape changed," he said.

Gracious love overcomes hard hearts and closed doors

Therefore, Smothers shares a different approach to helping both groups of people. He'll get to know neighbors in Desert Canyon or invite people to soda shops, a trendy experience for Utahns who like to add vanilla, coffee creamer or lime to their soda. 

As a friendship deepens, he offers them a better way than their performance.

"Out of the great love Jesus has for us, we need to love people right where they are," he said. "It's a hard religious community, and I think the way we get in is gracious love."

That's why Cameron and Megan Hull opened the door of their heart.

Converge's 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years.

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene