Stories: How IBL Helped Our Church on Its Journey

Note from Dr. David Phelan, IBL President:

Dave Deets is the Lead Pastor of Whitneyville Bible Church near Grand Rapids, MI. As I and others at IBL served Dave and his leaders, we were impressed with his strategic view of leadership, and the energy with which he pursues God’s calling to invest in Kingdom-focused leadership. Dave will be joining the IBL Board this fall. We will benefit from his giftedness in leadership and his interest in advancing our ministry to assist a larger group of God’s leaders. To that end, Dave has been volunteering with us for more than a year, observing how we develop leaders through training and consulting. As the Lord leads, Dave will coordinate our ministry with leaders in the Midwest US. We are grateful for the opportunities we have already had to co-labor with Dave and anticipate many more in the years to come.

Dave Deets

Dave Deets

Lead Pastor of Whitneyville Bible Church

In 1 Corinthians 16:6, Paul wrote to the church of Corinth that he hoped to spend significant time with them so that they could help him on his journey. In many ways, this is exactly what IBL did for Whitneyville Bible Church (WBC).

I became the Lead Pastor of Whitneyville Bible Church in October of 2013. At that time I had a vague understanding of IBL; I knew it existed but had no real working knowledge of what the organization did or could do. As God would see fit, Dr. Joel Tetreau, the Director of IBL West, agreed to come to WBC for my installation service on Sunday, December 8, 2013. Prior to my tenure, WBC had some past challenges with our leadership, so I asked Joel to speak with our leadership team the day before the installation service. I didn’t really have anything specific for him to discuss, I just figured he could talk a little bit about leadership. Little did I know what that Saturday would bring about not only for Whitneyville, but for me as well.

On that Saturday, fourteen men were huddled together in a small Sunday school room at 7 in the morning. Joel spent the first two hours discussing general principles of church leadership. What do the deacons do? What do the elders do? How do you become the leader God intends you to be? And then it happened. At some point, the discussion prompted a tense discussion and exposed within those fourteen men issues among the leaders and issues within the church that had never been addressed and resolved. There I was, the Lead Pastor for only a matter of weeks, and IBL had already helped me discover that there were unresolved personal relationships and other matters within the leadership that needed to be addressed.

I waved goodbye to Joel as he departed on Sunday afternoon, and I was left alone to wonder, how will we ever fix all of this? In the moment I felt tempted to think IBL stands for “I’ve Been Left!” I remember that cold, snowy Sunday afternoon wondering to myself not just what to do, but also, what is going to happen? Will IBL be there for me, for the church, and for these leaders?


Over the course of the next three years, IBL was more than there for me, my leaders, and our church. There were multiple phone calls to Joel to get advice and counsel on specific matters. There were the phone calls from Joel asking how I was doing and how the church was doing. There was the conference call with David and Joel to discuss some options for further training and teaching for Whitneyville. There was the weekend in September 2014 when Derick and Joel came to meet with our elders and deacons on a Friday night and then to meet with all of the men in the church who were interested in leadership.

The care and support provided by IBL went beyond that initial first year too. There were follow-up phone calls with Derick and Joel and David, to review and discuss how things were going. There was a weekend leadership retreat facilitated by IBL for our men at an area camp in October 2015. There were phone calls over the next several months following that. Then there was an IBL leadership forum hosted by Whitneyville for area pastors and churches.

When I think about IBL and what IBL has done for Whitneyville Bible Church over the past four years, I have to echo the sentiments of the apostle Paul: they helped us on our journey.

IBL isn’t just interested in you as a client for the sake of adding you to a list of people they have helped so that they feel good about themselves. IBL truly loves, cares for, is interested in, rejoices with, cries with, and keeps on investing in those that have reached out for their help. Instead of thinking of IBL as “I’ve Been Left,” think of IBL as “I’m Being Loved!” IBL models with their clients the same thing they teach to their clients.

IBL truly offers side-by-side guidance to help leaders become as He desires.