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Getting to Know the Elders: Dave Netherton

Here at First Free we believe God has given the church elders, men who have been chosen by God to know, lead, feed, and protect his flock. Over the next year, we’d like to help you get to know our elders better through an in-depth interview with one of our elders each month. This month we’re talking to Dave Netherton.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? What brought you to Wichita and First Free?
I grew up in St. Louis. I went to college and medical school in Columbia, Missouri. Came to Wichita after graduation for residency at Wesley Medical Center. Fay & I had been members of a Free Church while in school so we were familiar with the denomination and style of service. We were also connected through my faculty supervisor, Dave Miller. We were quickly welcomed into the Newly Married class and soon became part of the church family.

Tell us a little bit about your family, and what you do for a living.
Fay & I have been married forty-one years. We have four grown sons who are all married, and seven grandchildren. I just finished up a forty-year career in Family Medicine, retiring August 1. Fay is a nurse by training, has homeschooled, loves to mentor younger women, and has a certification in Biblical Counseling. She is also on the board of McAdams Academy, an alternative school for expelled and foster students. We love to travel, encourage people in their walk with God, spend time with family, and try to make things grow in our gardens!

How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
I was raised going to church two to three times a week, but our church was quite liberal theologically. However, through what Scripture we did read and hymns we sang, God began to build a foundation of faith. I was baptized at age eleven, genuinely professing what belief I had. In high school I became more aware of how far I fell short of God’s standard for living, and found that trying harder didn’t work. At a youth conference the summer before my senior year I admitted my sinfulness and surrendered my life to Jesus. While in college I became involved with the Navigators where I learned how to walk with God, how to study the Bible, the joy of abiding in Christ, and sharing that joy with others.

How has First Free impacted your life?
First Free was where we learned how to apply what we learned in a campus setting to “real life.” We met so many godly people who loved the Lord and had a desire to help others do the same. Through adult classes, small groups, and couple-to-couple and one-on-one relationships, we grew in our understanding and love of the gospel and the Word. The Holy Spirit used so many parts to help us grow!

When we had children, they took part in children’s classes and Awana, and later in youth group where other adults encouraged them to grow and own their faith in ways that complimented our parenting. Now, our grandchildren are experiencing the same thing!

How long have you served as an elder? What’s that been like?
I have been privileged to serve several terms on the Elder Board over the past twenty or so years. It’s an honor to serve with other men who take their walk with God seriously and desire to be faithful shepherds of God’s flock. At times the duties are quite heavy, and other times we celebrate the work of God in the lives of his people.

As an elder, what words of encouragement or exhortation do you have for First Free?
John 15 comes to mind. I think as I’ve grown older and wiser in my walk, I’ve really seen how critical it is that we abide in the vine as believers. Without Jesus we really can do nothing. I think an outgrowth of that is John 13:34-35—that our love for one another is also critical, but that can only come as an outgrowth of abiding in the vine.

How can we as a church be praying for you personally? For the Elder Board?
In general, I believe the Elder Board would value prayer based on the qualifications of an elder in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

Personally, please pray that my love for Jesus would grow deep and wide, that our marriage would reflect the love of God to others, that we would impart godly wisdom to our children and grandchildren, and for God’s calling for this next season of our lives.

As an Elder Board, unity is a big issue. Maintaining unity in the faith as a board. That our own marriages and walk with God would be a firm foundation. That we would seek to follow him with our whole heart. And that we would be better able to engage with people in the body of Christ.