Thriving Journey

By Char J. Patterson

The Thriving Clergy Initiative greatly impacted Pastor Dave Dahlberg in his life and ministry.

I was raised in a non-Wesleyan, legalistic church in Michigan," said Wesleyan Pastor Dave Dahlberg. "My father was the pastor so we went to church three times a week and [nearly 10] revivals per year."

While his background as a preacher’s kid never led him to question the reality of God, the religious setting did cause him to be “bitter, angry and hurt” as he didn’t fit in with the culture that determined hairstyles and attire.

Dahlberg’s path took a turn for the better in January of 1982 during a revival service. He and his then future wife, Kim, who had her own questions about God and religion, had a life-changing encounter with God.

“I simply asked the Lord to let me know he was still there,” said Dahlberg. “At the end of the service, the Holy Spirit began to pour over me with conviction. I stood beside Kim in the front row of the little church shaking, with tears flowing down my cheeks trying to keep it together!

"At that very moment, there was a tug on my arm and Kim whispered in my ear, ‘Let’s go up there together!’ I fell on my knees and surrendered my life to the Lord. He completely changed my heart and life."

After his father became ill, Dahlberg filled in for his father at the church where he grew up. He went on to be the church pastor for six years as he studied at Nazarene Bible College.

After graduation, God instructed the Dahlbergs to move on to another assignment. Dahlberg soon learned it was because God had yet another plan for him.

“God opened the door for the East Michigan District Superintendent Rev. Ken Boschee to get my number and give me a call,” Dahlberg said. “We set up a time for an interview and he asked if I would send my resume to the Wayne Wesleyan Church only a few miles away.”

He ended up pastoring Wayne Wesleyan for almost 13 years. God continued to show himself strong and called Dahlberg and his family to Christian Faith Fellowship in Tucson, Arizona, where they have been serving since 2005. Dahlberg also graduated with a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.)from Wesley Seminary in 2015.

Along with God’s grace, Dahlberg credits the six factors of Education and Clergy Development’s Thriving Clergy initiative (spiritual, emotional, relational, intellectual, financial and physical) for his ability to fulfill his God-given purpose.

I am very aware that God is not done challenging and changing me in every one of the six areas of the Thriving Clergy initiative.

“As I reflect over the six areas of the Thriving Clergy initiative, I can see how God has used the various trainings, teachings, articles and education at Wesley Seminary and Leadership Connection to reinforce these ideals in my life with the Holy Spirit nudging me in the specific areas he wanted me to focus on and change.”

Dahlberg used his time as an M.Div. student in his 50s as an example of how the initiative prevented him from feeling too overwhelmed when his church moved into a new campus the same year. Today, in hopes of maintaining balance, he continues to make small changes such as taking Mondays off to reflect, pray and play instead of working.

“I am very aware that God is not done challenging and changing me in every one of the six areas of the Thriving Clergy initiative,” Dahlberg said. “Kim and I have been extremely blessed to serve two of the best congregations in The Wesleyan Church that you could ever find. The journey has been amazing.

“Our lives have continued to be changed as we further surrender to the Holy Spirit,” Dahlberg added. “During our 24 years serving The Wesleyan Church, we have been greatly impacted by various leaders, seminars, The Gathering, Refocusing, Leadership Connection and more.”