By: Emily Neideck
Each Fall, Indiana Wesleyan University awards one outstanding individual with the Distinguished Wesley Seminary Alumni Award. This award is granted to an alumnus or alumna of the Seminary who has exhibited excellence in serving his or her profession, community, church, or alma mater in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
This year, Phill Tague of The Ransom Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is the recipient of this award. Tague and his wife, Stephani, planted The Ransom Church in 2009, and since then, the church has grown abundantly.
Tague was called to ministry at church camp after his senior year of high school. He said, “I spent much of my freshman year of college studying ministry, while also talking myself out of my faith.” He believed that many Christians he had met were hypocritical, and eventually, Tague fell completely away from his faith.
However, one day, Tague felt the Holy Spirit nudge him, saying, “So, your answer for hypocrisy is hypocrisy?” Tague realized his fault and began to pursue Christ with his whole heart and mind.
Tague received his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and went on to pursue his Master in Ministry at Wesley Seminary. He stated, “I was especially interested in Indiana Wesleyan’s graduate program because the degree was called, ‘Christian Ministries and Leadership.’”
Tague attended Wesley Seminary through the online program, but believes the online experience did not hinder his IWU experience in any way. He was the first of many online graduate cohorts, which allowed him to grow in relationship and wisdom.
Tague, his wife and another couple started The Ransom Church. Originally, the group met in a local movie theater. Now, with two campuses, 2,000 people, ministries in 6 nursing homes and a ministry at the local jail, Tague said, “The Ransom Church has truly grown into a thing that only God can get the credit for. It has been an incredible journey of church planting and growth.”
The Ransom Church focuses on authenticity and making the Gospel applicable to people’s everyday lives. Tague stated, “Church isn’t something you attend. It is something that you become.”
Wesley Seminary provided Tague with a hunger to sharpen himself and keep growing. He said, “I used to think of ministry in one category and leadership in another. What I started realizing is that there are tensions in ministry between being a shepherd, a leader, a pastor, etc. These are tensions that need to be managed. Wesley seminary helped me blur those lines in a good way.” Tague learned that being a good leader means leading others to understand growth and chasing what God has in store for them.
Tague said, “This award is super humbling. The list of people I can think of who deserve this award more than I do is long, and it is humbling to think that because of something God doing through you, you might get recognition.”
Check out his interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSWQqIuvhJQ.
Written by Emily Neideck, writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.