Remembering Dr. David F. Capetz
February 13, 1948 – August 22, 2021
On August 22, Dr. David Capetz went home to be with His Lord. Dr. Capetz was a family man, a Christian educator, founder of the IBNet website, and my mentor and friend. A mutual friend recently told me how he considered himself to be Dr. Capetz’s best friend, only to meet others who were also convinced they were his best friend. Dr. Capetz had a special warmth, kindness, and sense of humor about him. His speech edified. To be in his presence was to be in good company. In many ways, he was like Jesus, “who went about doing good…for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
Here is a brief history of his life as printed in the funeral program.
DAVID FREDRICK CAPETZ was born to John and Irene Capetz on February 13, 1948 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was the second of four children. He was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. The family faithfully attended Temple Baptist Church of St. Paul, Minnesota.
As a youth at Birch Island Bible Camp, he responded to the Gospel – realizing he was a sinner, believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for his sin, and trusting Christ as his Savior.
At the age of sixteen, he was in a serious motorcycle collision. God spared his life and changed his direction in life. His pastor, Dr. William Murk, influenced him to go to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College to take Bible classes which instilled in him a love for God’s Word – to study it, learn it, and live it.
After transferring to and completing his undergraduate studies at Maranatha, he went on to complete three postgraduate degrees at Temple Baptist Theological Seminary finishing with an earned doctorate degree.
He married Cheryl Smith in 1970, and God blessed them with three children – Mary Beth, Susanna, and John. He loved his home and family very much. In 1985, the family joined Fourth Baptist Church. The family served the Lord alongside him when he had ministry opportunities.
His primary ministry was in the area of Christian education with teaching and training – equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. He emphasized the importance of a biblical view of life with Scriptural foundations for living a Christ-centered life. He worked in real estate to support the family and ministry. In addition, he served the Lord as a faithful church member in various capacities.
In May of 2013 he was diagnosed with cancer and kidney failure. He believed God had an appointed/numbered day to take him to heaven. And peacefully, God took David to heaven on Sunday, August 22, 2021.
The family would like to express appreciation to the many people who have faithfully prayed and supported them over the past eight years.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”
– Psalm 37:23
I would like to share my experience of knowing Dr. Capetz and interacting with the many hats he wore. Brandie and I first met the Capetz family around 2002 when we joined Southside Baptist Church in Sunfish Lake (South St. Paul), Minnesota. We were newly married and did not yet have children. Little did we know how our lives would intersect with the Capetz’s and how the Lord would use them to help prepare us for ministry.
Dr. Capetz was a self-employed realtor. He was our realtor when we purchased our first home in 2003. This was our first exposure to David Capetz, the educator. He came to our apartment and explained the home buying process in simple, yet detailed terms aided by a PowerPoint presentation. In 2014, as we were beginning full-time deputation as missionaries to Ireland, he again represented us in selling the same house. His generous “ministry discount,” which he offered to anyone in full-time ministry, helped us financially to get established in Ireland. He valued the kingdom of God and righteousness above material gain.
On the back of his real estate business card, Dr. Capetz had the poem by John Wesley titled “Do Good.”
Do all the good you can,by John Wesley
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
Dr. Capetz teamed up with our pastor, Jerry Brantham of Southside Baptist Church, to offer training for church workers using curriculum from the Evangelical Training Association (ETA). They called it the Teacher Training Initiative. Brandie and I jumped at the opportunity and enrolled in every course. They offered classes such as “Basics of the Bible,” “Old Testament Survey,” “Teaching Techniques,” “Understanding People,” and “Life Development Planner.” We thought we were training to serve at Southside, but God was providentially preparing us for full-time missionary service. Dr. Capetz was a true teacher. Several of his oft-repeated proverbial sayings stick with me today, such as, “It is easy to teach a lesson, but hard to teach a student” or “Right is always right even when no one is doing it; wrong is always wrong, even when everyone is doing it.” Dr. Capetz generously gave me all of his ETA books as well as his own original course materials to use on the mission field for the purpose of training up future leaders. He lived Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 2:2 to train those who would train others.
Dr. Capetz was ahead of the curve in the area of Bible software. He was using Logos Bible Software before most ministry leaders knew of its existence. He encouraged me to invest in the software in 2005. I did not fully know why I had it at the time, but it would become an indispensable tool once I started seminary, and is now in my daily use. Dr. Capetz ran a Logos user’s group which met at coffee shops, and which focused on doing Bible study while learning the features of the software. I learned much about Bible study from those meetings.
In many ways, Dr. Capetz was a mentor to me and, I believe, to many others. He took time to invest in my life and ministry goals. When I started a new job in 2009, Dr. Capetz advised me to “raise the flag early” to have a public testimony for Christ. And he shared how he used to keep a stack of tracts on his desk at work and the influence that had on others. During the years of the Teacher Training Initiative, he patiently taught, advised, and encouraged Brandie and me. When we surrendered to God’s call to missionary service, he assumed more of a mentorship role, taking a personal interest in our preparations. At the time, I did not have a full awareness or familiarity with various schools within independent Baptist circles. He helpfully steered me toward Maranatha Baptist Seminary, which conveniently for someone working a full-time job, was offering an online degree. That, along with other factors, led to our choosing Baptist World Mission as our mission agency. Those two decisions have had a considerable impact on the direction of our ministry.
Every few weeks or months, right up until we left for Ireland, Dr. Capetz met with me one-on-one at McDonald’s for a coffee. He usually brought a bag with things to give me, mostly books on various important topics. He also used that time to communicate his conceptual framework for understanding the Christian life, which he had developed over the course of his ministry and which I will share details of in another blog post. He often said, “Before God can work through you, He must work in you.” Of course, I understood the words, but their true meaning I am still learning today. One highlight from those McDonald’s coffee meetings was an important truth that he impressed upon me. He said, “Steve, when you go to Ireland, you don’t want to be doing something new that you’ve never done before. Your work there should be a continuation of the work you are already doing here.” And he gave a page of notes titled “Ministry Parallels for Deputation and Ireland: Thoughts for Steve McKinley.” One of the results of that was that we started up a neighborhood Bible study in our home in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. God blessed and we saw some fruit. The Lord used Dr. Capetz to help develop us to be missionaries and to instigate important preparatory activities.
Dr. Capetz was at heart a family man. He had many endeavors in life, but his family always appeared to be at the center. They are a kind, generous, hospitable, compassionate, and talented family – a testament to the character of their loving husband and father. I can remember Dr. Capetz, during his teacher training courses, telling stories about teaching his young children lessons, which sometimes brought a tear to his eye. His children were precious to him. His daughter, Susanna, undertook a special project – a labor of love – to raise money for our mission to Ireland. Right now we are using a chart of character qualities with our children that he passed along in one of his courses. If our children can be like his children in some small measure, then we will have been successful parents. His wife, Sheryl, has been a strong encouragement and blessing to my wife, Brandie, in many ways. She has a servant’s heart. One time while we were on deputation, the family had us over to their house for a Sunday afternoon dinner, but unbeknownst to us, for a special surprise. They had another family over for us to meet, a missionary family on furlough from Ireland! How thoughtful.
Dr. Capetz loved cutting-edge technology if it had a ministry purpose. He quickly realized the power of the internet and, all the way back in the mid-1990’s, conceived of a website that would allow people in ministry to be linked together. In 1995 he designed and launched IBNet (see an archived version here). To put that into perspective, Netscape was only a year old and Microsoft released Internet Explorer that same year. The start of LinkedIn would have to wait until 2003 and Facebook until 2004. Fast-forward to 2015 when my family and I were on full-time deputation. I was surprised to learn that there was no current user-friendly database of churches to be found online. I started working on a user-contributed site called Independent Baptist Directory (IBD). I shared my idea with Dr. Capetz who was very supportive. After a short time, and to my amazement, he offered to give me the domain name ibnet.org and the right to use the IBNet name. Incidentally, a five letter .org domain name that is “brandable” is a valuable asset (the ibnet.net domain was for selling for $32,000 in 2015). Dr. Capetz’s website had become outdated due to his health issues and inability to maintain the site. My vision for IBD grew into his vision for IBNet, and I designed and relaunched IBNet in 2017 based on his broader concept. He had a rare foresight and imagination for new technologies, and so I believe the term visionary is fitting.
Thank you Dr. Capetz (and Capetz family) for modeling Christ to us, for serving the body of Christ with your gifts, talents, and resources, and for being personally involved in our lives to be better servants and ministers of the gospel. May the Lord bless you bless you and keep you until we meet again.