Feb 27, 2017
Caleb Thompson writes about how Hitchhikers: Salt Company impacted his life and put him on a new trajectory in college ministry.
Editors note: In the next week, you’ll hear more about the upcoming Hitchhikers: Salt Company on our podcast, but we found Caleb’s story too compelling not to share. Salt Company is cool and all. And Hitchhikers is a great concept for a conference. However, we offer this more as a reminder that there is great power in experiential and collaborative learning environments. Whether it’s a Hitchhikers or something like it, find a way to get out of your context and into a room with other collegiate leaders who press you to think in new ways about reaching the world’s most strategic mission field.
On behalf of the Collegiate Collective team, I implore you to consider attending a Hitchhikers conference soon. The next one is with the Salt Company in Ames, IA – April 19-21, 2017. There will be one at Resonate Church in Pullman, WA – October 20-22, 2017.
In April 2016, I left Hitchhikers: Salt Company and within a week I had turned down a safe and steady job to pursue God’s mission to reach college students through church planting. To say Hitchhikers was influential in my life would be a strong understatement.
Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to teach and coach high school students. Each day a classroom of 11th graders would join me in studying who God is and how he relates to us in our Theology class. I would argue they were the greatest group of students in the country, only to be matched by a loving administration and staff. I went to Hitchhikers with no real tie to a collegiate ministry. The only arguable close tie would be I was still less than a year removed from college myself. But at Hitchhikers I experienced what it looked like to be in a community who built their lives around Jesus’ call to be disciples who make disciples. I saw firsthand what it looked like when Christians intentionally invested their lives to make Jesus known. And I saw the tangible result of multiplication of the gospel of Jesus when over a thousand college students were gathered together in his name.
Attending Hitchhikers: Salt Company helped me confirm a call to church planting and a heart to reach college students with the gospel. However, the path and place to go was not yet made known. In God’s timing, the week I returned from Iowa, I had to decide where I would spend the next year. It was time to renew our annual teaching contracts. I knew the Lord was calling me to go, but did not yet know where. I also knew I was a month away from proposing to my now wonderful wife. With all this in mind, I prayerfully informed my principal, with a lump in my throat, that I would not be coming back the next year. I still remember being scared, but also knew that it was even scarier to have seen a movement of God, to be called to join in this movement, and yet to refuse to go.
I would love to say that in that next week it was all made clear. But the journey was not that easy. My wife and I had to spend the several months of our engagement four states apart. I spent a school semester substituting at my old high school, awaiting an opportunity to go. To be honest our journey made little sense to the world, and probably to some in the church as well. But God was unfolding his plan for our lives to be a part of the advancement of his church through the making of disciples. Now nearing almost a year later my wife and I are serving with the North American Mission Board in St Louis as we are being prepared to be sent to plant a church.
For this reason I am grateful for The Salt Company and to the North American Mission Board for sponsoring Hitchhikers. It proved to be formational in the direction of my life. For the first time in my life I was able to be with a group of people who were experiencing the multiplication promised by Jesus in the Bible. And I realized it was the same multiplication that our Lord has called all of us to. The reason it was so formational is because we stepped into a church culture whose one mission was to be disciples who made disciples of Jesus. I encourage, even plead, you to experience and know this type of community. May Jesus command to make disciples be the driving force of the direction of your life. May we all experience the joy of belonging with a local community of believers who prioritize the gospel multiplying above all else. And may you join us this April at Hitchhikers if you have never experienced firsthand the joy of such a culture.