VanderStory | A Call of Obedience To Help A Church of 23 Find Their Pastor
By: Meredith Cook January 7, 2020
Dustin DeVos wasn’t actively pursuing a lead pastor role. He felt the call to be a lead pastor was a solemn and worthy calling—a calling with which he had been wrestling with God for a while. Years of lay ministry experience and counseling pastors had familiarized him with the pressures and struggles that lead pastors often face. The call to be a lead pastor was not something to take lightly.
However, the Lord began opening Dustin’s mind and heart to the idea of pastoring. At the time, his church in Asheville, NC, was looking for a lead pastor and asked him to consider taking the job. For two weeks, Dustin and his wife prayed for God’s wisdom but neither had peace about Dustin taking the senior pastor role at their church. He still felt led to pastor somewhere, though.
Around that same time, a church—at the time called Snake River Community Church—in Baggs, Wyoming was beginning the search process for their senior pastor. The leadership of Snake River reached out to Vanderbloemen, wanting to know how the search firm could help them find their new pastor. Their weekly attendance averaged around forty people—roughly ten percent of the population of Baggs, a town of approximately four hundred people.
When Vanderbloemen consultant Brian Dunks went to visit the church, they were uncertain on how to proceed. The church was questioning whether they should disband altogether or proceed with a pastor search. Brian encouraged them to press forward with a pastor search and considered it a privilege to help them find their next pastor.
Dustin found out about the opportunity to pastor in Baggs, WY through a friend who had seen the job posting on Vanderbloemen’s website. This friend knew that Dustin and his wife, Mary, would likely enjoy Wyoming. Dustin determined he would be faithful to go through the search process, regardless of the outcome—so much so, that he didn’t want to know the church’s compensation package. He knew that if God called him to this pastorate, He would be faithful to provide what Dustin and Mary needed.
Through the search process, it became clear that Dustin DeVos was the right fit for the job—in specific and seemingly random ways. Dustin was uniquely suited for the Baggs environment. An experienced outdoorsman, Dustin had even hosted his own television show called “Creation Adventures.” He fit right into Baggs, which is a hub for hunting and fishing. It was clear that the Lord had called and equipped Dustin to pastor Snake River Community Church.
Today, Snake River is called River of Grace Bible Church. When Dustin arrived, the church had only twenty-three regular attendees. Now, the church’s attendance has more than doubled, averaging 75-80 attendees. They have found a new facility in which to meet. Dustin said, "God's been very faithful. It's nothing spectacular that I am doing. I exposit the word of God and I let God's word do God's work."
Dustin’s approach to ministry is what he calls “no-nonsense.” His ministry philosophy is simple: shepherd the flock, care for the community, and preach the word. He encourages other pastors to get out of their offices and into the community. Each week, Dustin spends time at the local coffee shops and businesses, getting to know his community and ministering to them. He leads guided fishing trips, which has given him many opportunities to share Christ with those who participate.
River of Grace Bible Church needed a pastor, and it was clear that God had equipped Dustin DeVos for that role—by calling him to be a pastor, yes, but also through smaller ways. Dustin’s passion for the outdoors made him a unique fit for the community around River of Grace Bible Church. This story is one that reminds us that God provides for those whom He calls and He has a plan. We only have to be obedient.