By Kaylee Hunting
Each spring semester Salt Company begins its leadership push. Current student leaders as well as the staff encourage Salt Company students to apply for Salt Company Leadership through multiple avenues. It is announced from the stage during our Thursday night gatherings, students taking our Theology of the Gospel course are encouraged to apply, and we ask our student leaders to recruit new leaders.
We believe that students on leadership is the best way we can disciple our Salt Company students. Salt Company Leaders have multiple responsibilities, and we entrust them to lead a small group discussion weekly with their peers. Because Salt Company Leadership is so valuable to our ministry, we put a lot of thought and effort into the application process.
First students fill out an application online. Their current connection group leader is asked to fill out a reference form. Then two Salt Staff members will interview the student for a 45 minute session. This whole process spans a four week time period.
This spring I got to interview Kelsey* who I had met in the fall. Kelsey had gotten plugged into a connection group after her first few times at Salt Company. In the Spring, I encouraged her to sign up for our Theology of the Gospel course. Kelsey hadn’t originally signed up for leadership, but I asked her to consider applying. After some thought, she decided to apply.
During the interview, Kelsey felt like she had to come up with a moment where she became a christian. She shared a story of how she felt guilty for lying in 4th grade. Throughout the entire interview, I had the sense that Kelsey wanted to follow Jesus, but she didn’t necessarily know how to. She kept mentioning how she should have stronger faith. We also sensed that she felt like she had to have it all together during the interview. I challenged her by suggesting that her decision in 4th grade was potentially a decision to be moral rather than surrendering her life to Jesus. I pointed out that Jesus has actually been pursuing her a ton this year, and then shared the sweetness of Jesus’ grace and how that allows us to be broken. Because of Jesus’ grace, we don’t have to have our lives all together. I was able to help her make connections by including terms and concepts that we had covered in Theology of the Gospel.
Kelsey agreed with everything that we said, and before she left she asked, “How do I surrender my life to Jesus?” It was such a joy to share the simplicity of the Gospel and to see Kelsey’s immediate response to it. It was like all of the pieces of the puzzle that she had been gathering this year finally connected.
by Jenny Calsyn, Salt Company Coordinator
We have seen God work in big ways this year as we have had the amazing opportunity to launch The Salt Company in Cedar Rapids, IA. God continually draws new students to our ministry each week. I can still remember our fall kickoff so vividly. We had spent hours upon hours on campuses promoting and getting the word out for our kickoff. As we were getting ready that evening a panic came over us as we began to fear that no students would come. As 8:00 came closer, students began pouring into the room. We had 74 people there that night and left praising God for what he had done. That has been the theme of this year, understanding that God is the one who is doing the work and we just get to be a part of it. So many times we have seen God’s power at work when we feel like we haven’t done enough.
One really encouraging story is that of two of our student leaders. Hannah and James have been dating for about 3 years and just last year because serious about their faith and have made some God honoring changes in their lives. We had an informal soft launch for Salt in the Spring of 2015 where we meet each Thursday and had a girls and guys bible study that met each week. Hannah had begun to feel like she needed to make a change in her life and was told about The Salt Company by a friend. She told James about this feeling and they both decided they would attend Salt together. Both of them throughout that semester really experienced God. James had been dealing with depression and Hannah was dealing with a lot of anxiety and emptiness. They both made a stand for purity and experienced the healing power of forgiveness in their lives and relationship. It has been really awesome to have them both on leadership this year. James is going to be an intern next semester and has been able to witness to some of his high school best friends where he has begun to see changes in their lives too. Hannah co leads a connection group on her campus and is a very faithful leader to her girls. She has a desire to do full time ministry in the future as well and I believe has a gifting for women’s ministry.
We also have a guy named Mark that has started coming to our ministry a few months ago. During the Spring Conference as he listened to the messages and worshipped alongside other students, he realized that he wasn’t a believer and wanted to devote his life to Christ. Our director had the chance to pray with him and it has been fun to see him get connected with the guys in our ministry.
I have learned a lot from this past year. I think the biggest thing I have learned is that God is at work and I am just a tool. It is easy for me to put all the pressure on myself but I just need to surrender to him and allow him to work through me. I also have learned how to better minister to my girls. It was hard at first to know how to dig deep into heart issues but God has taught me through the last year how much better it is to speak truth in love. I am a people pleaser and my tendency is to shy away from offending anyone no matter what but I have been convicted of how wrong that is. If I truly care about my girls, then I will care more about their relationship with God instead of about how they view me.
I am so thankful for the network of BCI churches and the support they have given me! I can’t express how much it has meant to receive it. I truly believe God has big things planned for the lives of students at Coe College, Kirkwood, Mount Mercy and Cornell. This is just the start of what he will do and I can’t to see more of it unfold! Thank you so much!
by Shannon Ness
As leadership interviews begin for next fall, the staff is hearing so many stories of how God is using the community of Salt Company to shape the lives of students and draw them near to Him. Irene is one of the students who applied and this is her story:
“I was invited to go to Salt Company through a friend that I had made during freshman year from On Iowa! I went to Salt Company throughout that year and though I made some great friends, it was a bit hard for me to really make new friends other than the handful that I had made. Everyone seemed to already know one another and with Salt Company being so big and still growing, it gave me a bit of anxiety. The fact that being Asian-American, also made me feel a little out of place. I stopped going afterwards and the following year decided to really focus on bettering my relationship with the Lord after recognizing how much of a baby Christian I was. A lot of my time went into ASK Prayer Ministry, a para-church student organization in which Peter Kim was leading at the time. There, I really grew in recognizing the importance of prayer and the Word. I ended up leaving that community altogether.
Towards the end of this semester, the Lord revealed to me the importance of having a Christian community. Allison Taylor, a student from Salt Company asked me to come to Salt and encouraged me to apply for Salt Company Leadership, since it’s not just about being an adequate leader, but having people to keep you accountable in your faith. I was hesitant at first, not knowing if I would even be considered since I was not consistently involved with The Salt Company. I was invited to Allison’s connection group and to Salt, the first time I went back was the last day to get applications in for salt leadership.
As to why I decided to apply for leadership, a big part of it was a leap in faith. At the time in which I applied, a lot of things were going on in my life. One of which was that I was dating a non-Christian. Long story short, the Lord had revealed to me that His blessing was not in it. And in one way, applying for leadership gave me that final push I needed to break up with him. Ultimately, I wanted to be better equipped and to gain more experience in learning, leading and telling others about Christ. A sister from my sorority started asking me about God and coming with me to Veritas. She asked some great questions and I can see the Lord working in her, as well as other sisters in the sorority, but I felt that I was lacking in experience and leadership in bringing them to the Lord. As well as bridging the gap between people of different cultures (Asians especially, since Asian awareness is something I am very passionate about) and Christianity. Since for those cultures, Christianity isn’t a dominant religion in their country.”
It is so cool how God is created a culture of bold leaders within Salt Company, who are turning away from their sin and leaning into a relationship with Christ.
Before college, Peter’s life was marked by deception and lack of trust. He often lied to his parents in order to do hang out with friends and lied to his friends in order to impress them. His faith was twisted and not consistent with what the Bible teaches. He constantly tried to adapt the Bible and Jesus to fit his situation and his personality.
Peter always considered Jesus to be present in his life, but it wasn’t until his semester of college that God revealed who He truly is to Peter. He realized God is unchanging and doesn’t adapt or make exemptions to exempt certain sins or circumstances. He has been and always will be the same. Peter’s life changed when he finally accepted that fact. Jesus broke the walls he placed around his heart and explosively revealed the true character of God to him that he had twisted for so long.
His life after Christ has been characterized by a renewal of joy and a repairing of relationships that had been damaged in the past due to his sin. He is no longer caught up in achieving goals and accomplishments that only give temporary satisfaction. He went from being an isolated, furiously independent kid to a man immersed and dependent upon a community of believers.
God used The Salt Company as a way for him to be welcomed into a community that was not focused on partying or even school, but the Bible. He made friends that encouraged him to grow closer to Christ. It also gave him the chance to join leadership and lead a connection group. Through this process of refinement, he has noticed that he has grown in maturity and now lives a life at a higher standard in regards to sin.
God’s power has transformed Peter, an inherently sinful child, into a man unburdened and freed from the sin that used to identify him. Peter now submits and trusts in God and His word. Because of this, he took a step of obedience this month to be baptized at Veritas church along with sixteen of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
By Sam Battaglieri
The heart and drive of the Salt Company of Cornerstone Church is the next generation. The Salt Company is focused on reaching, teaching, and equipping college students, preparing them for a life-long walk with Christ alongside a local church and healthy community. As a staff member, this theological vision translates into a practice of meeting up with numerous students on a weekly basis. I get the unique opportunity of hanging out and listening to students with an array of different backgrounds. The spectrum can range from the guy who never went to church as a child or teen that is now seeing God’s loving grace in and through Christ to the guy who has gone to church all his life and thinks that he has somehow earned God’s favor because of it. It is a special opportunity I have to be able to listen, learn, and love these guys wherever they are in their walk with Christ.
Recently, two guys’ stories stand out to me that I would love to share with you. One guy somewhat grew up in the church. His family was there for a bit, but stopped going when we was young. His familial-religious context made him into someone who is very moral. Through a handful of events, this guy connected with an old high school baseball opponent (and friend) –who happens to be a Salt Company leader! Now this guy is digging into community and desiring to learn more about Jesus. I do not know if he has truly decided to follow Christ, but I do know God is working in him and I would not be surprised if his heart is ahead of his mind on this one.
Another guy I have been meeting up with grew up attending a Catholic Church and working on his family’s farm. The mixture of his familial religious context shaped him into someone who needs to live up to certain expectations, whether they belong to his earthly father or God. Like many who grow up in the church that I have interacted with, he sees God as disappointed when the expectations that he has created, are not met. The disciplines are more of a burden than a joy, and the Christian life is a checklist rather than a process of sanctification in becoming Christ-like. I get the joy of walking through what sanctification looks like with this guy as I remind him of the Gospel. We’ll be looking at some books –he loves books- that lay out the topic clearly, and at God’s Word.
It is evident that I have a sweet, unique opportunity meeting with students at Iowa State University. I get to see what God is doing on this campus from the front row seats. God’s work in the lives of these two aforementioned guys during this season of their life looks like the seed form, I think, of what will continue to grow through their college careers and young adult lives. It is a joy to walk alongside them and watch what God is doing in their lives, and I look forward to seeing the grow during their time at ISU and beyond.
by Amalie Palmerlee
Kate was raised in a very kind Catholic family. The fact that they are Catholic is extremely important to them; however, God was just not discussed at home. Kate came to ISU as a freshmen this past fall and quickly found out about the Salt Kick-off and was eager to check it out.
She was a bit overwhelmed at the kick-off because it was so different from anything she had ever experienced, but she was drawn to join a connection group in her dorm. She instantly connected with one of her CG leaders, and they quickly became close friends. When Caitlin asked Kate to share her God story, Kate had no idea what to share. Over the next few months, Kate continued to come to Salt and attend her connection group weekly, and the girls in her group quickly became some of her closest friends.
In December, Kate attended Cornerstone for the first time but was really nervous. She knew that her parents would not want her there. However, she was intrigued and wanted to come back again. On December 2, Jess Ross, one of our much loved Salt leaders passed away at the age of 21 from health complications. The next day, Mark Vance spoke at Salt about Jess and how fragile life can be while challenging the students to consider their eternity. Through this message, Mark pleaded with them to place their faith in Christ to save them if they had not yet done so. Kate realized that night that she did not know if she would go to heaven because in her words, “I don’t know if I’ve done enough good things.”
Her CG leader shared with her that it is all grace, and gradually over the next few weeks, Kate confessed her sin and placed her faith in what Christ did for her through His sinless life, death, and resurrection to save her from her sin and hell. Her love for Jesus and others is contagious, and there is a deep hunger in her. Praise God for the beauty He is bringing from the ashes of the pain of our losing Jess. Please continue to pray for Jess’s family as they heal from their loss. Please pray that Kate’s family will come to know Jesus and that she will become a disciple that makes disciples and that God will get all the glory for it.
by Shannon Ness, The Salt Company Iowa City Coordinator
In February, we had our first leadership meeting for the semester. During the meeting, we specifically focused on challenging students to question the meaning of discipleship. We laughed as students shared stories of what discipleship looks like within their connection groups and the ways they have specifically been discipled. One student, Nick Parker, shared the story of how he got involved in the Salt Company:
“When I was a freshmen, two of the upperclassmen within Salt Company started to intentionally spend time with me. At first, I thought they were so cool and felt so loved that they chose to spend time discipling me. Eventually I realized that I am cool too. I left my times with them wanting to poor into other dudes in the same way that they poured into me.”
Nick is now a sophomore who leads a connection group and is seeking out other students in his connection group who he can disciple to make disciples.
Another leader shared that at the beginning of the school year, not a single girl coming to her connection group was a believer. As a staff and team of leaders, we were shocked to hear that these girls were coming to connection group at all. It’s really amazing to think about how God brings people into His fold because he created us to be in community, which is exactly what these girls longed for.
Since the fall, two of the girls have been baptized and another is getting baptized next month. Karen, the student getting baptized next month, had been struggling with multiple life situations when she first joined a Salt connection group. Not knowing how to cope on her own, she joined the group solely because she liked the community. To her God was not a god to be in relationship with. She grew up attending and singing at church, but never owned her own bible until this past winter break. She used to attribute her personal gains or positive experiences to her own work or the leaders around her. Throughout the year, God has been revealing His truths to her and she now thanks God for all the blessings in her life. She knows God is the reason for all things and call him her Lord and Savior. Karen is so excited to announce to the entire congregation what God has done in her life and is so thankful for the community of Salt company welcoming her into the fold and loving her.
Danny was fully embracing the party scene at the University of Iowa. For the majority of his nights, he would stay out until three or four in the morning living an unhealthy lifestyle full of lying and cheating. He found himself living a life of darkness. Instead of seeking love from Christ, he sought love from people he know would only be there for a night. He now looks back on this time in his life and describes it as a time full of hatred where he felt like dying and crying.
The pastor at Veritas encouraged Danny to meet with someone who could share the Gospel with him and to explain what it looks like to follow Christ. While having breakfast with Jon, a student from Salt Company, he decided to give himself to God. He felt ready to build a relationship with God, because he was tired of living a life full of hatred towards himself and he realized that God had already forgiven him for his sins. During breakfast, he described to Jon the life that he was living and how he continually pushed those that loved him most away. He was ready for change and ready to accept the love of Jesus Christ in his life. On that day, he felt a huge weight lifted off his back as if Jesus was saying, “Here Danny, let me take all of your sins away from you and let me take care of them for you. All you have to do is believe and follow me.”
Since then, he has stopped seeking alcohol as a solution to pain. Instead he seeks the Lord to fill him more and more each day. In every part of his life, he seeks Jesus. Rather he is driving, showering, or heading to class, he is talking with Christ. His prayer is a song of praise. Thanking God for revealing Himself to him and for surrounding him with the community of Salt Company.
While going through a particularly rough situation, Carley met with Anna, a student from Salt Company for hot coco. During their time together, Carley realized that she was not living a life that glorified God and that she deeply needed to press into Him to get her through this tough time. She was living a life that was full of anxiety, lacking of loving relationships, and consistent of a self-centered attitude. Following their meeting, Carley attended Salt Company. Bryan was covering 1 John 3:1-10 within the Children of God series. He was talking about his newborn daughter Abigail, and how fiercely he loved her and how she brought him so much joy without even knowing how much she was loved by him. Bryan continued to say that the same thing is true about our Heavenly Father. Hearing about loving father-daughter relationships is something close to Carley’s heart because her relationship with her father is practically nonexistent. As Bryan was speaking, Carley realized that God loved her like a Father loves his children, or how a father should love his children. Her image of a father was one that was drunk, constantly angry, and lacked encouragement and love. She had yet to experience the love of a good good father.
Bryan said, “…that we should be called children of God…because left to ourselves, I can think of a lot of of other words to describe our relationship with God: sinners, strangers, maybe enemies. The view of God that I used to have in my life was a domineering figure, shaking his head in disapproval, or maybe one of anger, waiting for me to mess up so He can punish me. That is NOT God, so if that is your view of God I want you to erase it from your mind, because that is not God.” Immediately Carley began weeping. She never knew a father who loved her so much, who knew she was not perfect, yet loved her unconditionally. She felt like she had been fatherless, but that God wanted to claim her as His own. She was overwhelmed with the idea of being adopted as a daughter of God. Her baptism symbolized her desire to be in relationship with God and to be known as His daughter.
Good leaders alway have leadership development in mind. 5 Leadership Pipeline Mistakes I Hope You’re Not Making - https://t.co/LZjNyKSLhD
When we turn and follow Jesus, we receive peace, forgiveness, meaning, and direction. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Jesus focused on instructing his disciples, but continually reached out to others by teaching God's Word. Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to his twelve disciples, he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.