After graduating with a degree in Biblical Studies from Biola University, Dennis served as the Pastor of High School Ministries and Student Missions at Rolling Hills Covenant Church from 1984-1992. During that time, Dennis volunteered as the Southern California Director of the National Network of Youth Ministries. Dennis then served as the Senior Pastor at Community Covenant Church in Santa Barbara from 1992-2003. During these years, Dennis completed an MA in Theology at Talbot Theological Seminary and is ABD on his Doctorate of Ministry at Trinity International University.
In response to the desperate needs of the AIDS pandemic, Dennis and Susan Wadley formed Bridges of Hope International and moved their family to South Africa in February 2003. During those years the Bridges of Hope team was able to refine a model of ministry called Community Health Evangelism in an urban setting. They also launched an orphan boarding high school, Bridges Academy, and began multiplying the CHE model into other countries.