How Exponential Sparked Collegiate Church Planting

September 28, 2017


The following is a guest blog by Exponential speaker and friend, Brian Frye. Brian is National Collegiate Strategist for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Collegiate Evangelism Strategist for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO).

In 2007, a friend invited me to attend Exponential. He didn’t give me a lot of specifics, but the trip changed my life. Why? Because it introduced me to leading ministry multipliers—a tribe of gospel saturated thought leaders dedicated to living the gospel, modeling it to others, and working tirelessly to see a gospel movement unleashed across North America.

Previously, I had read all kinds of books in college and seminary about seeing the gospel impact people and groups in big ways. I had heard stories on individuals leveraging their lives completely for the gospel, then seeing the Kingdom grow explosively, “movementally” because of it. My understanding of these ideas were theoretical. Then came Exponential.

Whether they intended to or not, Exponential jacked up my world.  It was not the conference organizers, or one of the speakers, or those fellow attendees—it was all of them together. It was the tribe gathered. It was how they were thinking and talking and questioning from the stage and in breakouts around meals and in hallway conversations. They collectively unlocked a whole new world of thinking about innovation and ministry impact. I left that first conference changed and committed to bringing others back with me.

They collectively unlocked a whole new world of thinking about innovation and ministry impact.

By 2012, I was a raving fan and built a strategy to bring top 20% collegiate church planters nationwide to Exponential every year. At this point, dozens of university-focused church planters have come to Exponential with me and ALL of them had an experience like mine. Why? It’s because Exponential unlocks a whole new world and way of ministry thinking. It demands that you think about innovation and multiplication through the lens of Kingdom expansion. With each trip, I’ve watched momentum build in the collegiate church planting domain and I’ve watched with joy as the multiplication mindset becomes the norm for guys planting churches in university contexts.

What was that? Did I read your mind? Did I hear you think, “Give us evidence, Frye?” Here’s a glimpse:

Ten years ago, Keith Wieser took a campus-based ministry of 50 and with his team flipped that ministry into a collegiate church plant—a church built primarily of college students, but focused on planting churches on other campuses where lostness is plentiful, the mission field is ripe, and those with receive Christ radically answer the call to plant churches.

As we brought Keith to Exponential, he had already had a passion for planting churches, but the gathering unlocked a new mindset for him.  Keith was already talking about starting new churches on new campuses, and planting with people in their mid-twenties. But as Keith listened and processed and other innovators pressed his thinking, a flip switched—it was a kairos moment. Keith began asking: “What if we saw a movement of college students planting churches to major college campuses across North America?”

Exponential is tricky like that. It introduces you to a viral DNA (or mDNA…thank you Hirsch) that changes your thinking compelling you to think bigger, wider, and more Kingdom-ly than you could ever imagine.

Five years later (summer 2017), Resonate church is running 1000+ across 6 campuses and they’ve baptized 700+ college students. Along the way they have pressed and challenged college ministries and churches alike to begin planting more churches on college campus—leading out and inviting others to plant on the 403 largest campuses in the United States and Canada.

Is it worth making the trip to Exponential? Absolutely!

The video below is evidence. What began as a campus ministry 10 years ago is a now a church-planting church pioneering a concept being highlighted across the Southern Baptist Convention. Watch and listen closely and you’ll hear Exponential overtones throughout it.

Video produced for SBC


For more details on the Resonate Story, see links below.

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