Tag : pastor

post image

Pastor of the Week: Ryan Budde

By: Dezaray Barr

Ryan Budde and his wife, obtained from church staff page

Rev. Ryan Budde is the Senior Pastor of Westview Wesleyan Church. He graduated Indiana Wesleyan University in 1991 with a degree in Christian Ministries and a minor in Music.

“It was while I was attending IWU that God called me into the ministry,” Budde said. “It was also at Indiana Wesleyan that I met my beautiful wife, Rachel.  These were two of the biggest life-impacting decisions I have made, after following Jesus, so my experience at IWU was most definitely pivotal to my life.”

Budde was involved in University Chorale and the traveling group, His Instrument, and these were defining experiences in shaping his future.  “Dr. Todd Guy, Terry Munday, Chuck McCallum and so many other staff and leaders were influential in my life.  I can see God’s hand at work in each challenge and victory along the way,” he said.

“I knew I had chosen the right path in changing my major and becoming a pastor in my spirit, first,” Budde explained. “The peace that I had after making that change, and the passion to know The Bible and truly grasp what was written there affirmed inside of me that I made the right choice. God has confirmed that for me over and over again in many experiences of life-transformation in others and seeing the church grow and prosper.”

Budde said that difficulties show up as a pastor when his humanity shows. “Impatience, misunderstandings, poor planning and other human error on my part have almost always been the reason for the seasons of frustration,” he said. “I tend to want the people to experience the joy of leading someone else into the Kingdom that I overlook the struggles they are facing, themselves.”

Budde’s church is currently in a campaign called On the Move, focusing on the call on all believers to minister in the place God has positioned them. “We are studying Nehemiah, cup-bearer to the King,” he said about the movement. “It has been a great challenge for us all, and people are considering and even seeking what God might have prepared them to do at such a time as this. It is exciting to be at Westview!”

Westview is also involved in IWU church matching scholarships. “The church matching scholarship has been promoted heavily by Mr. Tom Sloan,” Budde said, “who has a great team of people committed to helping college students benefit as I did from a Christian Education at IWU.  I have two kids in school right now who are blessed by this ministry.  We have helped more than 75 students over thirty years to complete their education and graduate from IWU. Knowing the difference IWU made in the trajectory of my own life, it is clear to me that assisting students in this manner is a potential eternity-changer, and a ministry well-worth the effort and sacrifice!”

Budde would encourage IWU student to start being intentional about the ministry God has for you, now. “If you don’t start while surrounded by support like IWU provides you, there will never be a circumstance where you feel more willing and ready. Choose to seek Him now,” he said.

Take a look at the 30-year Church Matching celebration event and the University Chorale concert that Budde hosted at his church at Westview on October 15. Link: https://youtu.be/x4EGEIu_TeM



Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

post image

Pastor of the Week: Dwight Robertson

By: Kendra Housel

dwight headshotThis year Indiana Wesleyan University’s biannual Summit event (where students gather for three days, morning and evening, for chapel) was lead by anointed speaker and Indiana Wesleyan University alumni Dwight Robertson. Robertson was an IWU student from 1975-1979 and graduated with a degree in ministry. He later received an honorary doctorate from Bethel College.

Robertson grew up knowing all about IWU (Marion College at the time). His mother and father are alumni and fell in love on campus. After college graduation, his parents were pastorally assigned to a small and remote church in Blue Eye, Pennsylvania. Dwight recalls that it was some of their college friends who encouraged, sent notes, money, necessities they were lacking on a minuscule income, always lifting them up in prayer. This was validation to Dwight growing up that long-term friendships and community could be found at his parent’s alma mater.

As a small boy he attended an alumni event with his parents and was indelibly struck by the lively music his father’s alumni trumpet trio played and how fun and sincere in their faith his parents college friends were. That weekend the IWU (Marion College) “family” community made a lasting impression.

Then during the Homecoming alumni event, Howard Noggle (Dwight’s folks referred to as “Mr. Marion College”) saw ten-year old Robertson seated on the front row. Walking down from the stage before the event started, Mr. Noggle approached and surprised young 10-year-old Robertson, giving him a shiny silver dollar, telling him it was an investment in Robertson’s college fund, and that he hoped he would use it to attend Marion College one day. Recalling the memory, Robertson said that Noggle noticed him and “sowed a seed in a young heart” that day.

As is often the case when a child’s parents both attended a certain school, Dwight took time to look at other schools besides his family’s alma mater. But after plenty of comparisons and prayer, Dwight was led to Marion along with his sister and thirteen other students from their small town in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania.

A local pastor and alumni friend of Dwight’s parents, helped locate a Marion retail job (later he would hire Dwight to lead their church student ministries program during Dwight’s college days). With financial aid and university scholarship assistance, Robertson began his time as a student at Marion College in 1975.

Dwight enjoyed new relationships and college life, but recalls a special semester when he petitioned the Dean to take a few more credit hours and enrolled in a night “Evangelism and Missions” class with Dr. Charles Carter. Robertson had already begun his personal pursuit for more of God, more of God’s will and more of God’s glory to be manifested on the earth.

dwight preachingRobertson was not expecting his future life-course to be radically changed by just a single weekly “night class,” but change it did. The true catalyst was an assigned book for reading and discussion, “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Dr. Robert E. Coleman. In class one night, Robertson confessed this required reading book had rearranged his understanding of and vision for authentic and lasting ministry, that this course and book would no doubt be used by God to set the course for his personal life mission. He now clearly understood that ordinary people are not God’s backup plan for reaching the world. Rather, we are God’s Plan A, and the plan is carried out and multiplied – one life at a time!

Robertson then began pursuing classes with Dr. Glen Martin, notorious for his fiery passion and deep conviction. He sensed such a unique “heart on fire” and “life in purpose” in this laser-focused and caring professor, who was passionate about God, people and a Biblical world-view. Martin’s classes clarified a discipleship worldview which embodies Kingdom values incarnated in people’s lives as everyday Kingdom laborers in every facet and sphere of society. Dwight became convictional about God’s desire for “ministers in every arena of life.”

In the midst of all this growth, Robertson wrestled as a college student who was undeclared in his major, seeking but not finding a specific “call” he’d heard so many others testify to having. He “wanted whatever God wanted,” but couldn’t find ease or clarity in selecting a major. He took classes in all sorts of disciplines, but eventually a job, not a class, led him to declare his major.

He loved helping people grow I their understanding of God’s love, their high value, and God’s unique plans and purposes for their life to be a part of God’s redemptive plan on the earth. Based on the confirmation and fruit God was bearing through His life as a full-time minister while also being a full-time student, he applied for upper Division status as a ministry major. He wrote his entry paper based on a “pastoral call” he had not received, but which he was okay with as perhaps God’s future plans would involve something a bit different. Robertson recounts a freedom that came with acceptance as a ministerial student without having an explicit ministry call. It provided “freedom to live outside the box for the rest of life.” He now looks back on that time of frustration with thankfulness, knowing it was his inability to feel one specific calling that gave him the ability after ten years in traditional local church ministry to found a unique para-church organization – FORGE – Kingdom Building Ministries, which he’s led as CEO for thirty-one years.

Robertson fondly spoke of an early season in the history of FORGE – Kingdom Building Ministries when he was speaking in New York at Houghton College and shared lunch with Dr. Jim Barnes. Dr. Barnes asked Robertson if he would be willing to have a conversation in the future if Barnes were to end up back at Marion College. He stated his conviction that the student body ion the Marion campus would benefit from what Robertson and his young team had to provide. Robertson, unaware that Barnes was about to become the next President, who would eventually negotiate the school’s namesake from Marion College to Indiana Wesleyan University, agreed to meet with him if such a hypothetical situation came to be. Within the first two weeks of Barnes’ presidency, Robertson received the phone call.

Barnes offered Robertson the opportunity to move out of his small Forge headquarters (a renovated garage on the backside of an ally in Marion) and set up offices in a building on campus for the next three years. In exchange for the space, Barnes asked that Robertson and his speaking team be available to speak for chapels, run youth events on campus and train his current “youth conference” staff. For the next three years Robertson and Forge ministry partnered with Indiana Wesleyan staff and students on campus and enrollment grew.

After three great years of on-campus ministry presence, the building Forge was being provided needed to be torn down. Robertson was faced with a new decision: where to permanently locate their headquarters. He and his team felt strongly that they should be centrally located nationally, located in a Central time zone to maximize service coast to coast, and supported by a hub city with a large national and international airport. In 1991, Kingdom Building Ministries moved from Marion, Indiana, to their current location in Denver, Colorado.

One term Forge ministry really loves to emphasize is the word “laborer.” Though it can be a difficult word to swallow, it is essential to understand in a personal walk with Christ that you are a “Kingdom Laborer.” Robertson said that “if you don’t understand that you are a laborer, you won’t be willing to get into the mud puddles of human need where ministry happens. Laborers get things done.” Synonymous with the often used IWU term “World Changer,” Kingdom Laborers do whatever it takes to complete the mission.


IWU Chapel during Robertson's sermon at Summit

IWU Chapel during Robertson’s sermon at Summit

Robertson spent Summit week encouraging the IWU community to love God just a little more, every single day. He called students to prayer as a tangible way to love others, and to stop, see someone and spend time with them– to love the way Jesus does. His time speaking at IWU was highly impactful. To learn more about Dwight Robertson, his ministry with Forge: Kingdom Building Ministries, or to contact him about speaking for an event, please visit here.



Written by Kendra Housel, a writer for the Alumni Center. Kendra is a sophomore Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. She is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing, and caring for others.

post image

Pastor of the Week: Rick Weesner

By: Emily Neideck

Rick Weesner is the pastor at Garrison Hills Wesleyan in Battle Creek, Michigan, a small church with a close-knit group of attendees. On top of his work as a pastor, Weesner runs an adoption ministry and is actively involved in the Wesleyan Church Campus Challenge scholarship program.

Weesner felt his call to ministry is 1984 and began attending a program through the Wesleyan Headquarters’ Education Department that would allow him to take ministerial courses at surrounding colleges and eventually become ordained. The program was appealing to students with families and full-time careers because it allowed flexibility. Weesner was ordained in 1989, and he spent time pastoring other Michigan churches before settling in Battle Creek.

Weesner’s church, Garrison Hills Wesleyan, has a unique focus on children and youth ministries. Weesner said about his biggest struggle, “Ministry has changed over the years. I’ve always felt the call to a smaller church and that is difficult in today’s world when the focus is on everything big.”

Weesner and his family have a passion for the country of Colombia. The family has two adopted daughters from Colombia, and they have two biological daughters. Their second daughter has adopted two daughters from Colombia as well. After going through the adoption process multiple times, the family realized that the process was financially taxing, and they wanted to do something to help. Weesner and his family created an organization called Project Hope Ministries. The organization provides affordable housing for families that need to stay in a country for adoption purposes. Weesner said, “Our ministry also is working with the communities to help with education.”

Weesner is also involved in Wesleyan Church Campus Challenge and has been for 25 years. He stated, “My kids were also involved. They wanted to go to Indiana Wesleyan, so we looked for ways to raise money for that. Because the challenge was helpful in enabling my daughters to go to IWU, I’ve always wanted to help other kids as well, and the challenge provided that opportunity. I’ve always found enjoyment in hearing the success stories.” Indiana Wesleyan University is the most successful of competitions. Currently, Weesner is the director of the IWU competition.

The Wesleyan Church Campus Challenge will take place on IWU’s campus on July 29th. To learn more about the competition, click here.


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.

post image

Pastor of the Week: Chris Conrad

By: Heather Cox

Chris Conrad, photo obtained from Facebook

Chris Conrad, photo obtained from Facebook

Chris Conrad graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 1988 and from there earned his MA from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2009. In addition, Conrad is currently in Indiana Wesleyan’s DOL program to earn his PhD.

On top of studying at IWU, Conrad is also the District Superintendent for the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church.

While studying at IWU, Conrad said he has been influenced by wonderful professors. His MA program was directed by Dr. Bob Whitesell, who Conrad said has written many books and highly enjoys interacting with students about their ministry experiences.

“Todd Guy was also a delight to have as a professor during my M.A. program – I appreciated his insights and his winsome spirit,” Conrad said. “There’s no doubt that the interaction I had with my fellow students, both during my M.A. program and now in the DOL program have been life-giving.”

Conrad said he has also enjoyed the professors he has had during his current DOL program. This includes Patricia Johnson, Dr. Vern Ludden, Dr. Boyd Johnson, and Dr. Tim Beuthin.

“Each professor has a wonderful commitment to learning and to do so from a perspective of a life that is in full pursuit of Jesus. That’s a great combination!” Conrad said.

For Conrad, life spent ministering to churches has been a call he has always felt. He first felt a call to ministry at the young age of five, and God continued to confirm this calling the rest of his life.

“When I was 12, I had a renewed sense that this was what I was going to be doing with my life, and when I was 16 I went public with that decision at a Wesleyan Youth Convention in Urbana, Illinois, in 1980,” Conrad said. “I was blessed to grow up in an incredibly healthy family and church in Southern California, both of which afforded me opportunities to ‘get my feet wet’ in ministry from early on– something I was incredibly grateful for.”

An example of a confirmation to his call to ministry was when he and his wife Mary launched a church they had planted in Spearfish South Dakota. Conrad said 130 people showed up for the first service, and the church continued to grow and prosper after that.

Chris Conrad, photo obtained from Facebook

Chris Conrad, photo obtained from Facebook

“That’s when I knew deep in my soul ‘I was made for this,’” Conrad said.

Though Conrad considers each ministry he has been a part of a blessing, difficulties and obstacles inevitably present challenges along the way.

After planting another church in Madison, Wisconsin, the church never reached a high attendance rate. Conrad said they had done everything they could to get the church lifted off the ground to grow, but it simply did not get there.

“Yes, people came to Christ. Yes, good ministry took place. But to never break the 100 barrier in average attendance after six years of putting our heart and soul into the venture, when our first church broke the 100 barrier on the very first Sunday… that was discouraging!” Conrad said.

In addition to this difficulty, Conrad and his wife experienced personal struggles when facing infertility, as well as hopeful adoptions falling through over the course of 16 years. Not only did infertility cause discouragement, four adoptions falling through produced much hopelessness as well.

“Eventually, after 13 years, my wife did some research on international adoption.  At the time, Ukraine seemed like the best choice because you could adopt multiple children (sibling groups) at the same time.  Usually the process took about six months,” Conrad said. “For reasons out of our control, ours took three years.  Three years doesn’t sound like a long time, except when it is stacked on top of a previous wait of 13.”

At the end of 2006, Conrad and his wife were able to bring their two new Ukrainian daughters home to the United States after a long adoption process, praising God for his faithfulness.

Chris Conrad and his family, photo obtained from Facebook

Chris Conrad and his family, photo obtained from Facebook

“In it all, both on the ministry side and the personal side, God has been faithful – to Him be all the glory!” Conrad said.

With his job working for the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church, Conrad considers those he works with to be some of the world’s best leaders.

“I am blessed to serve some of the most outstanding leaders and pastors in the entire world.  When I think of the stellar team of individuals God has blessed us with, as together we attempt to reach the one million plus individuals who have yet to come to a relationship with Christ in West Michigan, I am simply blown away,” Conrad said.

Conrad said they have pastors doing work in inner-cities, as well as leaders working hard in the suburbs. On top of that, they also have pastors and leaders in the process of planting more churches.

“Each of these leaders and those who serve shoulder-to-shoulder with them in our District care deeply about bringing people to Jesus, developing themselves and those around them as leaders and are committed to leading from a well-ordered soul,” Conrad said. “My job is simply to resource them the very best we can, to cheer them on, and to help them raise up the next generation who will join with them in Kingdom advancement.”

Rick Carder, Director of Alumni and Church Engagement for IWU, said Conrad is a leader in church growth and development, and continues to make a difference through his service.

“Through his role with the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church, he has given positive and influential leadership to his pastors he is charged with leading,” Carder said. “I have personally seen how he makes every effort to guide and provide helpful advice through his servant’s heart. He is an enthusiastic & passionate leader that never grows tired of helping his team develop personally and pastorally.”

Since starting his PhD program at IWU, Conrad said he feels as though he is keeping up with two full time jobs–serving pastors and leaders of his district, and the job of being a student. In addition to those two jobs, he said he remains dedicated to his relationship with Christ, his marriage, and his daughters. Through becoming dedicated in so many different directions, Conrad said he began to realize he needed to give something up. For him, this meant cutting back on something he loved to do.

“In 2000, I ran my first marathon and since then I’ve run a total of 25 more.  Typically I run a couple of them a year. Running is how I unwind and get refreshed,” Conrad said. “I recognized that multiple marathons each year might not be possible while pursuing my PhD.  So, instead of running 6-8 miles at time, I have to settle for 3-5 miles, and on ‘special days’ I might get a six-miler in, but that’s rare.  I’ve had to learn to be satisfied with this new balance.”

That being said, Conrad’s advice to other current IWU students is to realize and accept that we cannot have it all. Conrad said life is about choices, meaning we have to choose what is the most important, and what may be less important.

“Sometimes this takes discernment from the Holy Spirit about what to cut out of our lives. It might even mean talking to a friend or two who can help us discern what God is saying to us about this,” Conrad said.

Lastly, Conrad also expressed his love for education. He said all education points us to God, and we can find him in every part of our studies.

“When we sit down to study, before we start writing our paper or reading our text book, how about saying a prayer and inviting the Holy Spirit into the teaching process?  We don’t have to live divided lives. He actually cares about every aspect of our lives, so why not invite Him into our studies with us?”


Written by Heather Cox, writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!

post image

Don Corder: Pastor of the Week

By: Heather Cox

Don Corder, photo obtained from Facebook

Don Corder, photo obtained from Facebook

Don Corder graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1991, after attending the University for his MBA.

While working toward his MBA, Corder was also working for General Motors. Following graduation he went into business until 2000, when he experienced what he described as a burning bush moment, and began working in a mega church.

“In 2000 I had my own consulting business, and I had a little consulting role they asked me to fix something for them and it was a real simple fix for a professional operations manager,” Corder said. “I went in and thought I was just gonna do a little consulting gig.”

However, six months into working at the church, Corder was named the Chief Operating Officer over the 50 million dollar ministry which employed 500 people, and was affiliated with 1200 churches across the nation.

“I left there in 2010,and I was about 50 years old so I thought, ‘Good! I have just enough time to get back in the industry to make some money so I can retire!’” Corder said. “God had a new plan for me. So I went and did a little administrative gig for a big methodist church.”

This church was in the process of hiring a new Executive Pastor, so in the meantime they had Corder temporarily sit in that position. When the Executive Pastor was hired, he had a vision for a shared services plan which would help neighboring churches as well. In this process, the church realized their family of churches was overpaying positions and unnecessarily replicating administrative functions.

“I began working with the church to develop something that would be effective and save our family of churches money,” Corder said. “Shortly thereafter, however, the church went through a few changes and essentially asked me if I would like to run with this new initiative separately from the church. I agreed, and that was the day that The Provisum Group was born.”

The Provisum Group offers business services such as Accounting & Financing, IT Administration & Support, and Communications & Marketing to church and non-profit ministry leaders.

Over the past three years since The Provisum Group began, Corder said they have grown tremendously without trying.

“It excites me to know that when a new church signs up for our services we are literally saving them money and helping to put more dollars to use towards the mission and vision,” Corder said.

Don Corder, photo obtained from Facebook

Don Corder, photo obtained from Facebook

Through working in both business and churches, Corder eventually ended up writing a book, titled “Minding His Business,” (reminder to ink) which was published in 2015.

“In business I did mergers, acquisitions, and turnarounds for years. Hardest, coldest, most analytical, relationship void part of business and then all of a sudden I’m managing churches,” Corder said. “I’m able to be able to cross that bridge, and I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’m passing on experience or wisdom and people have said to me ‘You need to write a book!’. And my response to that was, ‘Well, if God wanted me to write a book he wouldn’t have made me hate writing so much!’”

Eventually, Corder was introduced to a ministry that desperately needed a business plan but was unable to pay him for his work. Corder said he made a covenant with God years ago that he would treat each meeting with pastors as a divine appointment, so he knew he had to help with the ministry. It was then he found out there was a ghost writer who was a part of this ministry.

“It was just the Holy Spirit who said ‘Well, time to write the book!’ so I swapped them a business plan for a book,” Corder said.

Written specifically for those who are right brain thinkers, “Minding His Business” is essentially a business primer written similarly to a devotional and was purposefully written in a language that pastors can understand.

“My calling in my life is to take stones out of pastors shoes, and the book was written to take stones out of pastors shoes,” Corder said. “I don’t care how well any pastor runs his church. I couldn’t imagine a pastor reading that book and not finding one thing that could make his or her life easier. That’s the purpose of the book.”

Corder said his mission is to help churches do their business. “I get so much feedback from pastors and ministry leaders– how they both laugh and they cry because they see themselves on the pages,” Corder said.

“You see, experience and wisdom are different,” Corder said. “Experience can be painful. Experience is what you gain from something going well and/or when something goes wrong. Wisdom is what you gain from the experiences of others. It is just as helpful but less painful.”


Written by Heather Cox, writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!