Southeast Christian Church senior pastor
When I was 16-years-old, I went to a Christ in Youth conference in Bolivar, Missouri. Two significant things happened in my life that week. It became clear that God was calling me into the ministry, and I met Dave Stone after he finished speaking at one of the main sessions.
In hindsight, I think this is further proof that God’s sovereignty has a sense of humor. What are the odds that the same week I felt called into ministry would be the same week that I would meet the man who would invite me to partner with him and give me ministry opportunities that I never would have imagined?
I’m thankful for a season where we can express our gratitude as a church family for Dave’s service at Southeast. There are so many things I’m going to miss about him. But in the spirit of transparency, I think it’s also important to share some things I won’t miss about Dave.
Things I won’t miss:
>His freakish ability to remember names. He will tell you that anyone can do it with some hard work, but it feels a little bit like Steph Curry saying the same thing about making three pointers.
>His niceness. It seems like being nice is something that might be missed. But it can go too far. His niceness is too much of an indictment on me. Good riddance.
>His outbursts of frustration. His most extreme outburst is a slow blink followed by a heavy sigh.
>His natural charisma. I think we can all agree it’s exhausting to always like someone.
Ten years after meeting Dave, I joined the preaching team at Southeast. When I came to work with Dave, someone warned me that when you work with your heroes you always end up disappointed. After 16 years of working closely with Dave and getting to know him behind the scenes, I’ve never respected or admired him more. I’m incredibly grateful for following a man of integrity, humility and grace. His love for Jesus and his love for people have constantly inspired and challenged me.
Southeast retired senior pastor
Dave Stone is about the most aggressive and most effective personal evangelist I know. He is so good at striking up a conversation with a total stranger and showing genuine interest in them. Within a few minutes, he’s inviting them to church … and they are thanking him for it!
Dave is also one of the finest fathers I know. His books and workshops about how to raise and influence children are among the best I’ve seen. The Bible says, “By their fruit you will know them.” Dave and Beth Stone have three great kids. All of us, especially young preachers, could benefit from Dave’s wisdom and experience as a father.
Dave was always loyal to me. He waited patiently in the wings for well over five years until I retired in 2006. During that time, he was willing to fulfill whatever role he was given—and perform it well. He is multi-talented but is content to bloom where he’s planted.
Dave Stone’s humility was most evident in his decision to share the pulpit with Kyle Idleman. Kyle is obviously a very gifted communicator and a stimulating Bible teacher. Very few preachers I know would allow such a gifted associate to preach half the time. But Dave did. As a result, the congregation benefited from the teaching and leadership from both men.
They shared the pulpit for 13 years and everyone in the church could tell that they loved and appreciated each other. That ongoing sacrifice of ego on Dave’s part constituted the greatest part of his legacy. It was probably even more significant than his vision that led to six satellite churches.
Southeast executive pastor
The No. 1 trait that Dave has demonstrated to me has been humility. It is the one-word descriptor that I use when asked about who he is.
One great lesson he taught me was to create memories whenever possible. It changed family vacations and entertaining visitors. Several years ago, Dave and I visited a couple of ministries with our wives as a shared learning experience and to generate ideas on how Southeast could benefit from the successes of others.
From the time we got together to the time our journey ended, our feet never stopped moving! Every experience was magnified to get the most out of the moment. We laughed until we cried, we had side adventures, we ate together at unique places, talked about what we were learning and who would benefit from those ministries. Every place we went, Dave made sure all of us were getting the most out of the experience. Through that time together, he showed me a different pace to live. It changed me.
But, during that trip, there was one other aspect that I will never forget. The whole time we were together, Dave and Beth were working with an individual who was going through a really tough time in their life. They needed a new place to live, a new job, new relationships, you name it—they needed it. Both of them were brainstorming, making phone calls, doing whatever they could to help that person get to their next station in life and experience the physical love of Jesus.
Margie and I had the experience of a lifetime, and God was changing someone else’s life through a pastor and his wife.
Pastor of Parkview Church, Parkview, Illinois
Southeast has meant more to me and Parkview Church than anyone will ever know.
We are part of a larger “tribe” of churches of which the Stone and Harlow families have deep roots. Dave’s dad and my dad went to high school together, and the Stones and Harlows (and my in-laws) all went to Ozark Bible College together.
Of course, Kyle’s dad, Ken Idleman, was the president of Ozark when my wife and I went to Ozark. That’s the backstory to a long friendship with Dave and Beth.
The most fun thing about Dave is that when he and I see each other at an event, we know we’re going to sit in the back and make funny comments to each other while someone is trying to be serious up front. We did it last week at a Rick Warren gathering.
However, what I have learned from Dave Stone, or I should be learning from Dave, is humility. That would be the one quality I admire most. He has the most uncanny way of making everyone in the room feel like he’s their best friend, which is ridiculous because obviously I’m his best friend. But he has a way of not only lighting up a room but genuinely caring for dozens of people at the same time. And it’s never about Dave.
I used to envy Dave. I started my ministry in Chicago about the same time he went to take the cushy job of being “preaching understudy” to the all-time great preaching guru Bob Russell. My ministry was hard in the early days.
But as I think back about it now, what no one could see from the outside, was how much humility it took to wait in the wings behind such a respected leader as Bob, and then take the helm and absolutely kill it, all the while having a not-too-bad leader named Kyle waiting in the wings.
What I’m saying is that anyone that can serve between Bob and Kyle is an incredible man of God. I can’t wait to see what God has next for Southeast, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Dave.
Lead pastor, LifeBridge Christian Church, Longmont, Colorado
It still amazes me that Dave takes pride in being runner up in a Barney Fife look-a-like contest in his 20s.
Fortunately, he went on to much bigger things. His humor, people skills and passion for God have given Dave a large platform. For too many that has and often does get egos out of control—not for Dave. That is best seen in that everyone he meets matters, from CEOs and celebrities to waiters and parking lot attendants. They get the best of Dave.
Southeast is blessed to have had Dave minister and lead for so long. Louisville has been blessed to have a humble community leader, and thousands upon thousands have been blessed that he genuinely saw them as someone who matters.
Dave’s brother and lead pastor at Bright Church in Lawrenceburg, Indiana
My mom’s youngest brother was born with cerebral palsy. Doctors hoped that Uncle Greg might be able to walk someday with physical therapy. One day when David was about 6 years old, Mom learned that the doctors said Uncle Greg would never be able to walk.
David came into the room while Mom was crying. Seeing her tears, David climbed up on her lap and asked, “What’s the matter, Mother?”
She answered softly, “Well, I just got a letter from your grandmother, and it says that Uncle Greg will never be able to walk.”
“Never?” David asked.
“Never,” she responded.
“Not even in heaven?” he asked.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “He will be able to walk in heaven.”
David looked up at her and said, “Then we’ll wait.”
He climbed down off her lap and ran off to play. David has been helping people get ready for heaven ever since.
Southeast elder 14 years
Over my 25 years of knowing Dave, I learned that everyone matters. I’ve watched him memorize countless names, including mine, the moment he meets you. I’ve seen him take ice cream to a broken girl, who had wandered from her faith and the church, on her birthday. I’ve witnessed him create relationships with servers in restaurants, inviting them to church, and meeting them when they first arrived … treating them like royalty!
I’ve had to wait to start a meeting with him while he finished a phone conversation with a homeless man who was living under a bridge (he had also recently delivered food to him with his son, Sam). I could go on, and on. Dave loves others, especially “the least of these,” because they matter.
They matter to Jesus and to Dave.
Crestwood Campus pastor
I love my brother Dave Stone for the example he set for me of being a great husband and father. In his busy life, Dave always prioritized Beth above his “day job.” And I believe the reason Savannah, Sadie and Sam love Jesus and His church is because their Dad prioritized them above “ministry.” Dave made his wife and children his ministry.
I admire Dave’s love for each person he meets. So many people can give testimony of the way Dave can meet you one time and remember your name forever. I know the reason Dave works so hard to remember their names—he loves them. Dave wants each person he meets to know how much he cares, and he believes he can demonstrate that reality by calling them by name the next time he sees them.
My life is better because of the example Dave has set as husband, dad and friend. Thank you, Dave!
Dave’s assistant more than 20 years
Every day was, as you would suspect, full of fun, mischief, God-honoring conversations, people connections and details, details, details.
Dave is the epitome of evangelism as his heart beats for the Lord and people … all people. He is an anointed preacher (obviously) but takes EVERY opportunity to reach out and help others feel loved. I would routinely get calls from homeless people Dave and his family had met, fed, talked with and given their personal information to.
The whole Stone clan would visit folks under bridges and random places in downtown Louisville—wherever they could be found. Every hour of his day, Dave would spend time getting to know folks, bringing them the good news of Christ. He is the absolute master at remembering both names and faces because everyone is special in God’s eyes and therefore Dave’s eyes.
There were so many crazy competitions in his fifth-floor office, which were really a ruse to give a starving intern some extra cash. He truly knows how to work hard as well as play hard. There were so many ping-pong championships outside his office on his conference table (with an added net). Nothing gives him more pleasure than to make a fun time for all and to bless folks.
Dave was great to work for as he is such a Godly man of moral integrity. He worked long and hard to be sure everything he did gave honor to God and not himself. He did not know that the entire staff planned a huge celebration for his 40th birthday that included funny videos of his life over the years, food and testimonies about things he had done. He thought that he was going to lunch with the preaching intern and me.
Well, you might know, he received a call that day to play golf with a friend at Valhalla, which he had never been able to visit. Instead of canceling on two people he saw frequently to do something he had often dreamed of, he took the high road, turned down the golf and headed out to our lunch when he was diverted to his birthday celebration. As it was a total surprise, that really said a lot about his character.
I have no doubt that God will use him in varied and delightful ways as he goes on this new journey. He is such an ambassador for the Lord, our church and Kentuckiana that I feel sure we will all run into him while he is getting to know one more person and remembering one more face/name and blessing one more soul.
Southeast elder 20-plus years
Dave is the most pastorally gifted person that I have ever known. He not only uses that giftedness every day, but always makes an intentional effort to honor the Lord by loving His people.
A few years ago, when a young Southeast member was a patient in a Pennsylvania hospital, who walked in unannounced one day to check on her? Dave. He drove eight hours just to encourage and pray for her and her family. That’s a man who prioritizes others above himself as a witness for Christ daily.
Blankenbaker Campus pastor
I have known Dave for over 30 years and consider him a great friend and pastor.
I’ve seen him up front and behind the scenes. He is always the same in any setting. He is a great man of integrity, and he has taught me how to love my family the way a real man should.
One of my favorite memories is the night my nephew was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dave showed up at the hospital around 11 that night to minister to my family.
Though that was almost 20 years ago, his impact has remained.
Southeast pastor of church plants
Dave Stone has been a very valuable and visible leader at Southeast for many years. But most people haven’t seen what a fantastic leader he is in his home. He and Beth raised three kids who are faithful followers of Jesus. They are a great example of a Godly family, which our world needs.
One of the many things I love about Dave is he generates fun for everyone who spends time with him. He loves to compete and continually creates friendly competitions; like car racing back to the church office after lunch. (Ask him about having to confess to Beth when he tore up their car jumping a curb racing back to the church; this was in our younger days.)
People don’t cheer for the competition. But Dave does. It reminds me of Jesus, who is also rooting for all of us.
Dr. Florence Muindi
Founder and executive director of Life in Abundance
In 2011, Dave and Beth came to Kenya accompanied by two of their children and three other Southeast families. One of the highlights of that visit was a prayer walk at a 1-acre piece of land that had been recently purchased as a future development site for offices and training center for the ministry of Life in Abundance International.
We prayed under a tree. After the prayer time, they prophetically spoke of what that center could look like, mentioning it could have a guest house building that could host pastors for respite as well as training at the center.
In September 2017, Dave returned to the same grounds to witness what God had done. Three buildings stood on that former field. They were built in three phases, and the third phase was an accommodation block that has 21 rooms of double occupancy. The building stands at the very spot where we prayed under a tree six years earlier.
Dave officiated in opening and dedicating that final building to the Lord. The plaque by the entrance is a testimony to all who visit and use the LIA center guest house, that God is faithful and watches over His word to fulfill it.
Founder of Scarlet Hope
My first memory was spilling a glass of tea all over Dave while trying to tell him about men and women in the adult entertainment industry. That day marked a significant impact on my life and our ministry as Dave graciously stepped into the lives of the ladies we serve.
Dave and Beth Stone made room in their lives for women once shunned by the church and told they didn’t matter. Dave and Beth made them matter. The last nine years they have shared Christmas, prayed for them, carried them through death and sorrow, encouraged them in rebuilding their lives and trusting Jesus.
Dave is the first person our women ask me to call when something big is going on in their lives. I praise God that he has turned so many hearts that were against the lost, broken and unlovable to see them. He truly lives a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that he is our friend.
Kelcey and Caitlyn French
Members of Dave and Beth’s Bible study
We met Dave in a meet-and-greet with pastors. Everything was new. Dave invited us to Bible study. It was exactly what we needed.
Dave and Beth are such great role models of a Godly couple. We loved seeing the love they have for one another and their children.
That’s what we want for our family. God uses Dave as a great speaker. He uses Dave to inspire nobodies.
Rachel and Jeremy Eaton
Members of Dave and Beth’s Bible study
For the past five years, we’ve been blessed not only to learn from Dave as he shares from the platform in front of thousands, but also to learn from Dave and Beth as they share from the comfort of their home to a room full of young couples.
We’ve seen that Dave and Beth are the real deal. They’re two of the most generous, hospitable, gracious, fun, thoughtful and loving people we know. They love like Jesus and they draw others closer to Him just by being around them.
The impact Dave and Beth have had on us is greater than we can ever express, and we are humbled and honored to call them our friends. We love Dave and Beth dearly, and we’re excited to see how God continues to work in and through them both in this next season.
Eric and Leslie Wood
Members of Dave and Beth’s Bible study
My husband and I have had the privilege of attending a small group Bible study at the Stones’ house for the last five years. During that time, we learned so many valuable life lessons.
We have two young children, so I found myself hanging on to every word when they would give parenting advice. They reminded us to put your spouse before your kids, which can sometimes be hard to do. But when a child knows their mom and dad love each other, it’s the best gift you can give them.