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July 20, 2018

Finding Christ in College

By New Churches Team

Finding Christ in College

“If students become Christ-followers in college, they tend to follow Jesus to the end of the journey.” This reality guides the ministry vision and philosophy for the Salt Network. The Salt Network, formed through the ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, and the leadership of Pastor Troy Nesbitt, envisions college and campus ministry not just as strategic but as central to the growth of a church planting movement. Cornerstone Church and the Salt Network have an ambitious vision to see vibrant churches planted on or near each of the 400 major university centers in North America.

Every year, new students from all over, come to university campuses in search of education, personal and community identity, and the long-term formation of a future vision and orientation for their lives. While 70% of kids that are raised in church walk away when they go to college, those who find Christ in college typically last. The Salt Network aims to ignite within these students a passion for Jesus, the local church, and the church’s mission to reach communities with the gospel.

Church Planting and Campus Ministry

While college-oriented church plants are nothing new, the Salt Network church-planting strategy links discipleship-oriented campus ministry and church planting together in a uniquely intentional way. Early on in his faith journey, Troy became deeply convicted of the Scriptures’ teaching that making disciples in the context of the local church is God’s priority. While no one can contend the incredible kingdom fruit of campus ministries like CRU and InterVarsity, a strong connection for college students with the ministry and community life of the local church is often a challenge. The Salt Network seeks to bridge this gap and even by doing so, catalyze college students into church-planting mission.

The Salt Network has developed a campus ministry approach that prioritizes membership and participation in the life of the local church as an integral part of leadership development in their campus ministries and overall ministry philosophy. The Salt Network builds much of their leadership pipeline around this reality, even casting a vision of developing “freshmen into planters.” College students grow from becoming followers of Jesus, to leading small groups on campus, to overseeing and shepherding others small groups and leaders, to becoming residents in their church-based school of theology, to finally being sent out to plant a new church and campus ministry in teams.

Nuts and Bolts of Campus Ministry/Church Planting Strategy

In church planting, often the most difficult thing to find is the “goers,” those who are willing to orient their lives and make career decisions toward the mission of planting a church in a new area. The college students on campuses around the country are on a natural trajectory to “go,” with most expecting and planning to leave and go elsewhere after 4 years. Why not mobilize those already going to go on mission?

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  • “If students become Christ-followers in college, they tend to follow Jesus to the end of the journey.” -Troy Nesbitt of @TheSaltNetwork_
  • “The Salt Network builds much of their leadership pipeline around a vision of developing “freshmen into planters.” -Troy Nesbitt of @TheSaltNetwork_
  • “Students add horsepower in all of your ministries.” -Troy Nesbitt of @TheSaltNetwork_
  • “When considering the intersection between church planting and college ministry, “don’t underestimate the potential that is on the campus in your backyard.” -Troy Nesbitt of @TheSaltNetwork_


New Churches Team

NewChurches.com wants to help you build a strong foundation by connecting you with top experts in the field of church planting and multisite ministry, and by regularly providing you with the resources, information, and community you need to thrive as you multiply the mission of Matthew 28.


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