Pastor Dave Stone takes the Gospel seriously. He does not take himself seriously.
On May 20, he sat in an ornate chair fit for a king on stage as close friends and associates told stories at the Dinner & Roast with Dave Stone in the upper Fellowship Hall at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus.
Proceeds from the sold-out event were donated to Spire, a ministry that encourages and equips leaders, teams and churches who inspire a movement of healthy growing churches.
The roast was a chance to celebrate a senior pastor who loves to laugh. (Everybody knows he also cries easily.)
Radio and television personality Terry Meiners hosted the evening he dubbed, “The Game of Stones, The Final Chapter.”
Blankenbaker Campus Pastor Neal Gossett joked that Dave has written more books than he’s read. Southeast elder Brad Devries described how the pastor who “writes sermons on the way to the church” will spend two hours perfecting a magic trick. He also told about the day Dave was pulled over by a police officer while on a conference call with elders.
Retired Senior Minister Bob Russell described a prank Dave pulled that has become legendary at Cincinnati Christian University. That day, Dave rigged a pulley that lifted him up the side of a building as if he were being raptured. He waved to students through classroom windows as he “flew” up the side the building.
Ashley Wooldridge, pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Arizona, has known Dave 30 years—as long as he’s been a pastor at Southeast.
“Dave, you have a lot left in the tank,” Wooldridge said. “Now you can step into those that you care about and love the most—the deer in your backyard.”
He told stories of Dave’s Instagram posts about his four-legged friends and even produced a custom deer antler hat.
Meiners said he knew the roast would turn into a “lovefest” and called Dave a “treasure in the community.”
It happened as every single roaster quickly moved from funny stories to praise.
Gene Appel, pastor at Eastside Christian Church in California, talked of tough times when he and his wife considered quitting ministry. Dave encouraged them through that tough time. Appel said Dave has done the same for hundreds of other pastors with notes, texts and calls.
“Everything is better when Dave is in the room,” said longtime friend Tim Harlow, pastor of Parkview Christian Church in Illinois.
“To follow Bob’s legacy with this guy (Idleman) tailing behind must have been tough,” Harlow said. “But he’s been preparing Southeast for the next dynamic chapter. He believes the church’s greatest days are ahead.”
Southeast Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman chided the group for not really “roasting” Dave. He described Dave’s fake laugh, how he perfected the art of the loaded question and described meetings when Dave told irrelevant stories, recapped sporting events and practiced magic tricks with a 30% success rate.
At the end of the evening, Dave described his 30 years at Southeast as “blessed.”
“I’m eternally grateful for those who have held my hands up when I’ve been at low points in my ministry,” he said. “People see a pastor when they’re at the top of their game. They don’t see when I’m frustrated or broken-hearted. Friends have helped me through tough times. I am blessed because of 30 years I got to spend at Southeast. I can’t wait to see how God will use Kyle and his leadership.”