Develop Leaders

Our Mission: We exist to develop leaders by training them to think biblically about themselves, others, and all of God’s creation within the context of local churches near major universities.

We bring the seminary to the university.


“If you’re on a college campus, you’re on the culture’s cutting edge. [The campus] is our best leadership development pipeline.

“By exposing people to the cutting edge of culture where they have to deal with the modern mindset, where they have to deal with non-Christians — that is the best way to develop pastors and lay leaders.”

Tim Keller / Read Full Article




Cornerstone School of Theology (CST) is an equipping ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. CST offers a Master's in Theological Studies in partnership with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) in Kansas City, MO. The program brings together practical ministry experience within a thriving church and the academic rigors of accredited theological training. Our passion is to strengthen and to multiply the church of God by cultivating wise and effective pastors and leaders.



At Cornerstone School of Theology, we provide the opportunity to earn a Master’s in Theological Studies (MTS) in just two years. The 15 required courses are scheduled on a rotating basis to allow students to complete their degree in two years regardless of their entry point. All 15 courses are taught and facilitated by professors from Cornerstone Church, and the online courses include optional in-person sessions in order to preserve the classroom dynamic.

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Here are the courses for which we are currently accepting enrollment.
Sign up today!


intro to apologetics

Dates: May 6 – August 1

Registration Deadline: April 25

In this course, students will begin to develop an understanding of the major approaches to Christian philosophy and apologetics and the major questions facing the Christian worldview. Specific topics include the rationality of religious belief, the existence of God, the possibility of miracles, the problem of evil, and the Resurrection. This is a seminar-based course with meetings on June 15, 16, 18, and 19. There are also required readings, writing assignments, and small group cohort meetings to give students opportunity to have diverse learning experiences as they encounter some of the key elements of understanding and articulating the Christian faith.

leadership practicum

Dates: May 6 - June 27

Registration Deadline: April 25

In this course, students will encounter multiple opportunities to gain and practice leadership skills including decision-making, strategic planning, integration of personal spiritual disciplines and time management. Over these 8 weeks, students will read required texts, choose supplemental readings that apply to their leadership context, and submit meeting reports - and all under the supervision of a field-based practitioner. Students should walk away from this course with a general and practical awareness of how their leadership might fit into their church’s vision and purpose as the Body of Christ.


History of christianity i

Dates: June 24 - August 15

Registration Deadline: April 25

The History of Christianity I course will cover the period from Christ’s Ascension to the Reformation. Through readings, written assignments, and discussions, students will learn about the people, movements, and ideas that are important to the formation and development of early Christianity and still impact the deposit of faith in our lives today



In 2009, Cornerstone was a growing church that was focused on the next-generation and beginning to develop a vision for church planting. As leaders were being raised within the Salt Company (Cornerstone’s college ministry), the leadership of Cornerstone began to dream of ways to incorporate accredited theological training into the context of local church ministry. This would enable Cornerstone to provide biblical and theological training for emerging pastors and leaders without having to leave their local ministry behind to go to seminary. 

It was out of this vision that the Cornerstone School of Theology was born. Jeff Dodge partnered with a team at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to begin offering the foundations of a Master’s of Theological Studies (MTS) on site in Ames. The program was launched with eight students who ultimately graduated in 2012. Since then 50 other students have graduated with their MTS degree through CST and MBTS. Currently, there are over 50 students in the midst of earning their degree. 

Concurrent to the development of the Cornerstone-MBTS partnership, there has also been a movement within Cornerstone to begin planting multigenerational churches in university centers across the Midwest. This movement, called the “Salt Network”, has only increased the urgency to raise up trained church leaders. CST has become the mechanism of training church planters and staff across the network. In fact, over 30 MBTS graduates are currently in staff or eldership positions at our Salt Network churches. Each course in our program is full of young, aspiring leaders from all of these church families.


CST Graduates

More than 50 students have earned their Master's degrees through CST.



Churches Represented

CST students from more than 10 churches participate in courses together



YEars to completion

Students can complete the program in 2-4 years, even while working full-time.




Dr. Jeff Dodge

Jeff attended the University of Northern Iowa where he came to faith in Christ. He received a B.S. from Faith Baptist Bible College (Ankeny, IA), an M.Div. from The Master's Seminary (Sun Valley, CA), and a DMin and a PhD in Systematic Theology from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Kansas City, MO). Jeff has a passion for training next-generation leaders for ministry in the local church.


dr. Matthew lapine

Matt hails from northern Minnesota before drifting to Iowa where he met his wife. He has a wide range of interests including theology, literature, philosophy, and psychology. He has a BA and an MDiv from Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA), an STM from Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX), and a PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) under Kevin Vanhoozer. Matt is passionate about practicing theology within the context of the local church. 

Dr. Shane kelley

Shane is a graduate of Iowa State University and earned a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Bethel University. Shane has managed the details for the Midwestern extension campus in Ames, IA since 2012 – designing courses, assisting professors, and helping students enroll and succeed in the CST program.