The Salt Company – Local Worship Group in Iowa City

Stage for Salt performers. Photo taken by Jane Dogoty

“Can I see your ID please?” At least this is what I would have been hearing  walking into the local bar, Third Base. The atmosphere is a lot different when everyone isn’t there to drink, but worship God.

The first person that approaches me is Mark Arant, one of the lead pastors for the Salt Company, an outreach ministry that exists to share the good news of Jesus with Iowa City. He has been working with college students since 1999 and brought the Salt Company here to Iowa City. The atmosphere is geared for college students. This is why, to Arant, it seemed like the perfect idea to have meetings where students congregate.

“We wanted to meet in the bars because we were committed to being in a location that was highly accessible and familiar to students,” said Arant.

Arant is married, with 5 kids. Keeping up with his family and Salt is hard work but he knows he is blessed to have such a wonderful wife who helps.

“Everyday I wake up I say the same thing, God – it’s not about me today, It’s about everyone else, help me remember this.” Said Arant.

In Iowa City, the Salt Company meets at the Blue Moose and Third Base, all very accessible to most college students living near the downtown area. Carrie Clement, women’s coordinator of the Salt Company, said that renting a bar is a lot cheaper to rent than any other venue they found.

“We thought about it, and it just seemed fitting to bring light to a dark place,” said Clement.

The Salt Company started in Ames at Iowa State University with a small group and has grown to a group of about 800 college students. They focus on helping students in their spiritual journey by offering authentic and relevant worship and teaching from the Bible, along with small groups where people can get to know each other and talk about how to apply the Bible to everyday life.

Salt is still in Ames and they decided to come to Iowa City in 1999 in order to expand the program and interest more college students. Salt meets in Ames on Mondays at a local church called Cornerstone Church. It’s a very large location that seats up to 800 people.

“We don’t have as many people attending in Iowa City as we do in Ames, but we hope the word will get out and then maybe we will move to a bigger location.” Said Arant.

“We believe that college students want to change the world and if we can introduce them to Christ, he will use them in changing the world for God’s glory,” said Clement.

Expanding to Iowa City

The first meeting for the Salt Company in Iowa City attracted around 200 students. Quite a few came from Iowa State for the first Salt Company meeting in Iowa City.

Salt Company Staff. From left to right -Cody Cline, Carrie Clement, Shane Rothlisberger, Mark Arant, Sarah Vint and Ben Jensen

“The atmosphere was electric,” said Arant.

Each Wednesday focuses on  a different book of the Bible.  The Company teaches through the Bible, making it understandable and applicable to the life of a college student. Most people don’t know what to expect when they go to their first meeting and Arant tries to make his sermons as fun and upbeat as he can.

“We are passionate about good worship.  We have a few announcements and then a message from the Bible.  After the message, we have a few response worship songs and then Salt is over,” said Arant.

An Upbeat Worship

The music isn’t your normal hymnal songs though; it’s very loud, more modern upbeat music that really get the students involved. Sometimes there may also be some video elements and testimonies from students.  UI student, Megan Hauswirth, is a regular attendee and said that she loves getting to know the other students and sharing her experience with them.

“Everyone was incredibly welcoming, wanting to get to know you and very sincere,” said Hauswirth.

When Megan heard about Salt from her friend who goes to Iowa State, she wanted to check it out right away.

“It sounded awesome and I knew that I would love it so I went that next Wednesday. I didn’t have to go alone either, my roommates wanted to come along too.” Said Hauswirth.

Some people may think that a Bible study is simply just talking about God and reading the Bible, but the Salt Company really wants students to think about what they are getting out of Salt.

“We want them to connect with other believers so that we can have a positive impact on campus, in the Iowa City community, and around the world,” said Clement.

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Arant hopes that students will be forced to stop and think about their lives, and consider what Jesus’ role might be in that. He wants students to learn how to love and follow the person of Jesus Christ.

“He is not only loving, kind, and savior of the world, he is smart. He has the most brilliant take on how to do life. I desire for students to get a glimpse of what life with God is like,” said Arant.

See my movie I made for the Salt Company on YouTube

Tell Everyone You Know

Attendees hear about the meetings by word of mouth. They want people to enjoy coming to Salt so much that they talk about it with their friends, co-workers, and classmates. But if people can’t make it to Salt on Wednesdays at the bar, they can go to Hotel Vetro for church on Sundays instead.

“We are the Salt and the Light of the world.”

Arant lives by this quote. It’s why the group is called, the Salt Company.


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