- My Local
- My Reach
- My Self
Dean Dilger serves the rural and suburban communities on the Central Coast of California. From the vast vineyards of Paso Robles, to the high-tech start ups of San Luis Obispo, to the tourist filled beaches of Santa Barbara, the Central Coast houses diverse, tight knit communities. There is abundant farming on the fertile coastlands and ranching further inland, both of which account for flourishing rural communities apart from the high-population cities.
The demographics of the area are as diverse as the landscape. With a high cost of living and few well-paying jobs, many rural residents live near or below the poverty line. Residents of these communities value family, fraternity, and belonging. There is great potential for the gospel to flourish out of this desire for community fellowship.
Though there are several effective, large churches scattered throughout the Central Coast, many residents in these communities appear to be ambivalent regarding religion. Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses are also active in many parts of the area. While many large churches exist here, most are unable to reach rural communities who either can’t or won’t travel “into town.” These differences in rural and city culture illustrate the need to engage residents in their local communities in unique ways. The greatest spiritual need in the area is to enable local churches to effectively reach out into local communities.
After seeing the need in his community, Dean began reaching out to the rural communities all but forgotten by larger churches and ministries. Combining his call as an area missionary with a passion for rural areas, Dean ministers in nine small, local churches. “There are many believers that lack fellowship with a church congregation and meaningful study of the Word due to their location,” Dean explains. “These forgotten communities need to be engaged in unique ways.”
Aside from his church-based ministries, Dean is also director at Camp Challenge. The camp hosts children from throughout the Central Coast with a call to come together in fellowship, hear the Word of God taught, be discipled, and have fun.
Dean became an approved candidate with InFaith in September 2017.
From working towards a bachelor’s degree in religion to earning a master’s degree in seminary, Dean always thought the Lord would lead him into ministry somewhere away from home. Born and raised on California’s Central Coast, Dean explains his moment of calling: “It was only when I truly turned everything over to God and listened for the Holy Spirit’s leading that I found the ministry I was called to was the one I was already involved in [at home]."
Dean’s first encounter with InFaith came when a retiring missionary asked him to preach in an area church—the very same church where he was baptized. The camp that Dean now directs is where he met his fiancée.
“Through it all, God has been working behind the scenes to prepare me to reflect His light to the communities I call home.”