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Pastor chronicling exploration of LDS Church on Youtube shares what he’s learned

Faith

Jeff McCullough is the host of a Youtube channel called “Hello Saints,” where he explores the doctrine, history and culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Watch our interview with him in the video above. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – For Jeff McCollough, the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are lot more nuanced than he initially thought and he’s realized the core teachings have a lot in common with the rest of the Christian world.

The 41-year-old man is an Evangelical pastor from Illinois doing a deep dive into the doctrine, history and culture of the LDS Church. His Youtube channel, Hello Saints, has nearly 19,000 subscribers. In the last six months, he’s explored many facets of the faith, including its turbulent history, what members believe about God, baptism, life after death, temples and more.

While he doesn’t agree with everything the Church teaches, McCullough tells EastIdahoNews.com what stands out most to him is the emphasis members place on Christ.

“For me as an evangelical, it always comes back to the cross,” McCullough says. “I’m actually finding Latter-day Saints are more focused on the cross and his atoning sacrifice and his death than I initially thought they were. That was unexpected.”

And he’s intrigued by how many similarities there are with Protestant denominations.

But that’s not something he would have said just six months ago.

McCullough’s Christian faith was a central part of his upbringing and he was taught to “stay away” from the LDS Church because “the Book of Mormon is false, Joseph Smith was a false prophet and … it’s demonic.”

“All of those thoughts were hard-wired into me and honestly, I couldn’t even back it up with articulating what Latter-day Saints believe,” says McCullough.

McCullough’s interest in taking this journey began with a trip to visit a friend in Utah several years ago. It was the middle of the pandemic and he wanted to experience the Beehive State’s outdoor recreational sites. All the uncertainty nationwide prompted him to contemplate life and his approach to faith. His friend suggested he extend his stay in a state where more than 60% of the population are Latter-day Saints.

McCullough declined that invitation but over the next four or five months, it stayed with him. Utah became a frequent place to visit and he started having conversations with pastors, ministers and LDS Church members.

“I started to see that there’s more nuance, more history, more culture, dynamics and spiritual activity involved in this whole belief system that deserves a harder look,” McCullough explains.

McCullough has a background in video production and had been toying with the idea of starting a Youtube channel. He thought exploring the LDS Church was a unique idea and “Hello Saints” was born. From the beginning, his mantra has been to “fight criticism with curiosity.”

McCullough says very few evangelicals are paying attention to his channel and those who do watch are critical of it. The vast majority of his audience are Latter-day Saints.

“I honestly was not expecting it to resonate the way that it has. I was thinking this would be a side passion project that has some intrinsic value, but it has turned into much more than that,” he says.

McCullough has yet to read the Book of Mormon, which is his focus over the next several months.

For him, the objective of this Youtube channel is to educate others on the differences and similarities between the LDS Church and Protestant Christians. He hopes it will generate an ongoing interest and dialog about it.

“I really hope that the authenticity of my earnest curiosity continues to resonate with people. We can engage on topics that, in large part, have been contentious and divisive. It doesn’t have to be that way,” he says.

WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH McCULLOUGH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE.

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