In the fall of 2018, Tarleton State University senior Garrett Kirchner felt God begin to call him to college ministry. With his graduation nearing in December of that year, Kirchner prayed that God would show him where to go and how to get there.
As a member of Tarleton’s Baptist Student Ministry (BSM), Kirchner was connected to Go Now Missions, a Texas Baptists program that mobilizes college students to share the love of Christ across the world. Kirchner spoke with Go Now Consultant Brenda Sanders, who introduced him to a ministry opportunity in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“I visited Colorado a few times with my family. I can’t explain it, but I felt at home there,” Kirchner said. “I also saw a real need, because people were living in sin and not appreciating God’s creation around them. When I found out about this opportunity, I clearly heard God’s call to go.”
Throughout college, Kirchner served with Tarleton’s BSM on mission trips in the Northwest. He was interested to see how God could use him in Colorado, a region with many cultural similarities. So, shortly after graduation, Kirchner packed his bags and followed God’s call, relocating to Fort Collins, Colorado, to minister to over 33,000 students at Colorado State University (CSU).
When Kirchner arrived at CSU in the fall of 2019, Go Now connected him with Christian Challenge Fort Collins, a college student and young adult ministry similar to BSM that is found on campuses across the West.
“Over the past year, Christian Challenge Fort Collins has seen less student participation,” Kirchner explained. “So a big part of my work here has been brainstorming ways to restructure and rebuild. We want to revitalize the ministry to better train and disciple the students of CSU.”
Kirchner explained that BSM reading material and Bible studies, as well as his personal walk through Scripture, prepared him for ministry in Fort Collins.He also learned about discipleship as a means for both multiplication and growth while at Tarleton. He is now trying to implement this practice at CSU.
“I’m so thankful for how Tarleton’s BSM equipped me,” Kirchner said. “But nothing could train me like being there, following God’s call to walk and labor for His kingdom.”
God is teaching Kirchner new lessons about ministry this semester, particularly that love and service are key to ministry in the West.
“Coming here, I quickly learned that I needed to shed the Bible Belt style of campus ministry,” Kirchner said. “Here, students don’t want to be pushed. It’s about being relational. This type of ministry looks like having real conversations with students about their social lives, classes and really anything else on their minds.”
Learning how to build authentic, foundational relationships with students has been difficult but also an immense blessing, Kirchner explained. In the past two months of ministry, he has already established three discipleship relationships with CSU students.
Through Christian Challenge Fort Collins’ many outreach events, Kirchner has been getting to know the students of CSU and building friendships where seeds can be planted.
Some of these weekly events include Motivational Monday, where Christian Challenge members hand out free snacks on campus and start conversations with students, Bible studies held every Monday evening and free lunches provided every Tuesday afternoon. Brinner and Jam, one of Kirchner’s favorite monthly events, happens monthly and encourages students to get to know the Christian Challenge group.
“It’s really just a bunch of us hanging out in a garage, eating breakfast for dinner, drinking coffee and jamming to some of our favorite music,” Kirchner explained. “We encourage musical people to bring their instruments and play some original stuff, and other times we just listen to Ben Rector or other popular artists.”
Many of these events are held around campus or in the Challenge House, Christian Challenge Fort Collins’ building located on the Southside of the CSU stadium. These events, as well as dedicated prayer, have led to three exciting friendships for Kirchner.
“God really moved and answered prayers through these three discipleships,” said Kirchner. “I didn’t expect to be investing in three lives this quickly, but God brought them to me. Now we are reading through the Bible, talking about faith and sharing our testimonies on a regular basis.”
In just a few short months, Kirschner’s outlook on ministry has been completely reshaped. He is learning valuable lessons about fighting discouragement, celebrating little victories, being humble and, most importantly, having a Kingdom mindset.
While Kirchner has only partnered with Go Now for a year, he feels called to invest in college students long-term and wants to follow this call wherever it may lead him.
“I’m just taking it one year at a time,” Kirchner explained. “And, currently, I’m praying for the year to come.”
In addition to praying for his personal growth and journey, Kirchner continually prays for the growth of Christian Challenge Fort Collins. CSU is a campus of around 33,000 students, and Christian Challenge has only three full-time staff members.
“The need is real in Fort Collins, and across Colorado, for believers to share the Gospel. Whether that is community members or people coming from far away, God can use his people here,” Kirchner explained.
No matter what students are passionate about, Kirchner encourages them to listen for God’s voice and follow wherever it leads them.
“If you have a passion for a people group or a culture, it is probably because God has stirred your heart to go and reach those people,” he said. “So look at the options that Go Now has – you could taste the rest of your life through these trips!"
To get involved in the work God is doing through college students both nationally and internationally, apply to the Go Now Missions program here.