Making the most of time for the most Kingdom impact
By Hope Danzl
God placed a vision in Pastor Dwight Dozier’s heart for the growth of the church in rural America since starting full-time ministry in his early 20’s. Now, at age 62, having served in ministry for over 40 years, most Americans view this season of life as the conclusion of their working years and beginning their retirement, but not this rural pastor.
What motivates his continued work of pastoring, pursuing education, and leading church multiplication in rural areas? Dozier’s passion to see the incredible need in rural places met with more healthy churches, more spiritual leadership and training for the next generation, and to see his healthy church launch more churches in smaller communities. Dozier’s vision supersedes the natural rhythm of life or personal comfort for most people in his age group.
Little did he know when he set new goals, God would surprise him by preparing the first church planters, Randy and Lisa Parr, two valued church members in his own congregation, First Assembly of God in Great Bend, KS. God took these former missionaries to Mexico from the mission field to rural America, on a different ministry journey. They already had a vision to relaunch a church in Ness City, Kansas. God miraculously blessed them with the miracle purchase of an old theater and office space in the center of town for Generations Church, for the price of one dollar. However, Ness City had one challenge; only three members in the previous congregation remained to start this new church. Pastor Dwight and First Assembly jumped at the chance to assist Randy and Lisa in making their God-given dream a reality, fulfilling what God was speaking to them.
Dozier invited ‘A-team’ members from his church to join Generations Church, filling the voids with skilled people while also raising local leaders. Members quickly volunteered to fill ministry roles such as; worship leaders, ushers, greeters, nursery helpers, children’s ministry leaders and much more. The church in Great Bend displayed selfless generosity that assisted the new Kansas church to walk through its hardest first steps with grace. Today, with an average of about 70 people, Randy and Lisa Parr are well on their way to raising up a strong church for the greater Ness City, Kansas area. (See more on their story here… (attach link to their article).
Dozier’s plans to leverage his decades of leadership in multiple church planting endeavors. He also began a Master of Arts degree in Rural Ministry through Trinity Bible College and Graduate School in 2018, not a conventional endeavor for someone his age. This master’s program contributed to defining and executing this church planting vision. His strategy to begin works in 7 or 8 area communities formulated in a class project. Beginning formal education brought him through many successive learning stages. One helpful insight he learned helped create a church, different from the existing community churches in both style and ministry for effective results. His ministry strategy engages people in the Good News, worship, and gives personal attention to people related issues. Pastor Dwight sets the spiritual climate within the community and works to create an effective and healthy church in Great Bend, Kansas, leading the local ministerial association outreaches.
Pastor Dozier desires to multiply churches that model these values before he completes his years of vocational ministry. His strategy is to maximize kingdom impact through church planting and ministry preparation so when he reaches 70, a pipeline of leadership will follow in his footsteps. These future ministers need places to run, so in the next eight years, Dozier developed a goal of launching church plants with an awareness toward rural America.
The First Assembly congregation in Great Bend caught the God’s direction and now dreams with Dozier’s contagious vision. He works to instill a kingdom mindset in his church, so most of the congregation became excited when God used them to impact not only the church plant in Ness City but the surrounding rural communities. The energy and excitement from the first church plant has provoked questions at First Assembly such as,
- How soon can we take that next step of faith and plant in another rural community?
- When and how can we raise up more churches and leaders?
The fact that Pastor Dwight is “62 and… needs to be 42” challenges this process. In the remaining time in this role, he desires to instill vision into the next generation with hope so they will prepare to step into the new leadership positions in future church plants. He encouraged conversations and developed classes for people exploring the call from Jr. High to adults.
Dozier constantly encourages this next generation of ministers and people currently considering church planting towards making long-term commitments. He often encourages them that long-term rural ministry provides many advantages, although not always apparent. How many other ministry situations have the unique opportunity to pastor a whole community in a long-term setting? Rural ministry includes the prospect of building close relationships with influential people. Dozier’s customary weekly coffee with the mayor of Great Bend exemplifies this possibility. He cites many advantages, plus the exceptional opportunity for people in the community to get to know, trust, and call you their pastor; a reliable figure whom they can confide.
Dozier attests that rural America remains a great setting, not just to start in ministry, but provide a place for ministry longevity. He suggests that young pastors raising families in rural communities with a wholesome environment, can establish strong values and vibrant vision. Age has not stopped this motivated leader from seeing rural America’s potential. This growing journey, a step-by-step process, uncovered a God-driven passion for church planting in rural America. The vision God gave Dozier and First Assembly sees a bright future of fresh awareness for the need of ministers in rural places, investing in the next generation, and developing a heart and a mindset to train new leaders to reach Rural America.
- How can you invest in rural communities needing a church?
- What vision has God birthed in you?
- How can you accomplish God’s plans without regard of age or other limitations?
- What steps do you need to take to prepare for God’s next miracle through you?
- How could education open new doors in ministry?