By: Rick Carder
David opened his seminar on Conflict Resolution with the statement, “If you are breathing, you will experience conflict.” Sharing experiences from his ministry, Dignal offered ideas on handling conflict in our lives during a teaching session hosted by the IWU Alumni Association – Fort Wayne Regional Network on February 11, 2016. Dignal defined his greatest passion as resulting from opprotunities of ministry, “When you can mend a broken relationship is a win. Anytime you can get people on the same page is a win.”
For over thirty-five years David Dignal has served as a pastor in the Wesleyan Church. He has experienced ministry through his passion for teaching and leadership. David is an alum of IWU, finishing his Master in Religion degree through IWU. Dignal is also a graduate of Ohio Christian University (B.A. in Christian Ministries). He referenced Dr. Wayne Schmidt, Vice President of Wesleyan Seminary, who helped him learn how to manage conflict.
Dignal cited four areas of conflict: community change, financial stress, closed power systems, and prescriptive expectations. In the ministry of serving in a local church, he is reminded that working with people can be difficult but that, “there are many rewards as well.” In his ministry he has learned to lead gracefully.
Pastor Dignal now serves at Edgerton Wesleyan Church, where he has been since the fall of 2002. He has turned the church around by providing an optimistic leadership style that included teaching principles of leadership to its members. He is also a trained church planting assessor for The Wesleyan Church. Dignal’s main focus in coaching an individual is to see that person develop their full “LQ” – leadership quotient. He said the LQ means, “We have to promote leadership development. The leader has to grow and not depend on the past successes. You can always add to your ability.” The leader’s growth is the key to his or her personal and ministry effectiveness and fulfillment.
In sharing on a personal level, Dignal shared that he completed a process of being certified in the Wesleyan Coaching Network. About himself he said, “I did my training with Tim Roehl. I really do like the GROW model, simply because it keeps my focus on helping the person grow in whatever area we are working on.” He describes the GROW model by asking pastors to look at their ministry “Goals” and “Realities” as well as the “Opportunities” then they define the plan in what he calls “What will we do?”.
Dignal integrates his coaching principles by engaging the passion of people and helping them find their strengths. As the Director of Alumni and Church Engagement, I (Rick Carder) asked David Dignal to provide leadership coaching to the Fort Wayne Regional Alumni Regional Network. Dignal is creative and optimistic as our team looks to serve alumni in the region. The team works together to define objectives and goals that reach and serve alumni. His leadership and coaching is a positive contribution to this team.
During his conflict resolution presentation Dignal shared a personal example of leadership roles and their constant change. “Yesterday we celebrated my nineteen year old daughter’s birthday. We often remind our children what the relationship roles are,” he shared. Further, “In dealing with conflict we continue to define roles. I have to remember that she is nineteen now. I have to make adjustments too.” As he reflected about ministry he said, “As culture changes you have to make adjustments. The message doesn’t change but the way we do ministry does. There are new opportunities when culture changes.” Now that he is a grandfather, Dignal was asked about how ministry has shaped him over the years. He said, “The impact has been that the perspective of children’s ministry has changed. I have always valued this ministry but now that I have a grandchild, it has given me a personal connection.”
This is part of why Dignal is passionate about church renewal. He serves on the Church Renewal Team with the Indiana North District of the Wesleyan Church that helps churches to be more effective. “I am part of the renewal conversations which I enjoy,” says Dignal. His greatest joy is in serving Christ. He commented, “Seeing God’s truth worked out in real life scenarios is my passion.”
“I have a responsibility to communicate vision in a way that people can understand,” says Dignal, “I want to get everyone on-board.” He continues, “I am good at repeating the same thing over-and-over again so that everyone gets it. I say the same thing but I say it differently so that people get it.” He teaches as an adjunct professor for IWU. He often encourages his students by helping them to connect to what he teaching by using stories and illustrations that build on principles.
On a personal level David was asked what his life Bible verse is. He answered, “I don’t have a life verse but I have a favorite. It is Philippians 1:6. I paraphrase it simply, ‘What God starts he finishes.’” It gives him confidence in the darkest times.
In speaking about his ministry impacts, he talked about two significant experiences that have shaped him. “One of those is the pastoral heroes in my life.” Referring to the four years he served as a staff with Pastor Jimmy Johnson in Bonita, CA. “He taught me to be real and relax in who God created me to be.” He also reference a painful time in his life. “My failure as a church planter,” he said. He continues, “It has shaped me because it taught me humility and forced me to realign on my values in the church. My failures caused me to come out and realize the importance of ministry.”
The accomplishments include church planting and training specialties. During a public recognition following his presentation at the training event as the newest member of the Pastor of the Week (PotW) inductee, David demonstrated a servant’s heart by sharing personal successes and failures. He has served over 35 years of pastoral ministry experience, 13 years as an Adjunct Professor for Indiana Wesleyan University, and served 7 years as Assistant to the District Superintendent of the Indiana North District of The Wesleyan Church. He now serves as a ministry coach for the Wesleyan Church.
Pastor Dave has been married to his wife Stevie for over 34 years and have three children (Sarah, Jonathan, and Rebekah), one son-in-law, and one grandson. They met at Circleville College in 1977. She was from New York and he was from Pennsylvania but we met in college. They started dating when I was in my last year of college.
Written by Rick Carder, Director of Alumni and Church Engagement.