Twenty-five miles southwest of the glimmer and glam of Las Vegas lies Blue Diamond Foursquare Church, which has been pastored by Bill Dahlquist and his wife, Eileen, for the past 13-1/2 years. A former U.S. Marine and recent retiree from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Bill succinctly points out the differences between ministry in his small town (known affectionately by residents as “The Village”) and that of large cities.
Looking for a church? Other than Blue Diamond Foursquare, there are none in the immediate area. Waiting for passers-by to drop in for a service? It’s not going to happen when you’re so far from the city. Ministering to the homeless? You won’t find any here. What you will find, Bill jokes, is a herd of wild burros—so you’d better watch where you step.
On a more serious note, however, he states the key to effective ministry in The Village; it’s as simple as driving down Village Blvd. or Diamond Street, and a point any pastor in any city would be wise to heed.
“If you are going to reach the people, you must reach them at their level,” Bill states. “Religious people are not what the non-churchgoers are looking for. Denominational dogma is not well received.”
What is well received is service to the small community. When Bill and his wife first became pastors of the church, he says, The Village didn’t want anything to do with it. But the divide is no longer present. Because of their sensitive outreach to their neighbors, the church is a welcome part of the community. Bill participates in the local administration and, at the officials’ request, he serves as a representative of The Village on a county committee.
Members of Blue Diamond Foursquare provide holiday meals every year to seniors and low-income families; they support community activities, such as making repairs to the common grounds; and they sponsor community events, such as the annual Junior Triathlon. The church is a member of the Blue Diamond Charitable Association. Bill also builds bridges of relationship to people by officiating as needed at weddings, funerals and other special occasions for Village residents.
The pastor notes that the top three strengths of his congregation are their love and acceptance of all; their faithfulness to the church; and their grateful, giving hearts.
“My heart for ministering to the people in my congregation and surrounding community is to see them come to know and love Jesus Christ, be equipped to persevere in life and [understand] the end times,” Bill explains. “I believe the greatest impact [you can have] on anyone is to lead them into the kingdom of God and eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
A lot of lives have been impacted through this small congregation in the Nevada desert, and not just locally, but around the world. Even though they number only around 20 or so, the members of Blue Diamond Foursquare are huge supporters of Foursquare Missions International (FMI)—as small as the congregation is, they are among the top 400 churches in the U.S. when it comes to missions giving. They’re also consistent supporters of Foursquare’s Children’s Gospel Box ministry, which is used around the world throughout the year to teach the gospel to thousands of kids in scores of countries.
“My greatest joy as a pastor is the joy I find in others who once had no joy, and to see what God does in the life of a believer,” Bill affirms. “To see them grow sometimes in leaps and bounds in the likeness of Jesus Christ.”
To that end, Bill says it’s important that each person knows nine things in life: Who God is; what He has; and what He can do. Who the devil is; what he has; and what he can do. And, finally, who you are; what you have; and what you can do.
And so, at least in the most fundamental ways, ministry in Bill’s beloved Village is not that different from ministry anywhere, even in your city. Success in ministry, Bill says, comes down to a few simple things.
“With unconditional love, accept all people God brings to you,” the pastor encourages. “Remember, you can only lead to the degree you are willing to serve. And the manifestation of the Spirit is proportionate to the invitation given.”
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Sacramento, Calif.