by John Stephens
I started working directly with John De Boer as I joined the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC) staff in 1982. John was then serving as the Executive Vice President of IBYC and tasked by the Board of Directors to oversee all the daily operations of the ministry, a role he served in from 1980–1986.
John was well acquainted with the IBYC ministry. In the 1970s, he was a volunteer for the ministry serving as the Chicago Basic Seminar Area Committee Coordinator and assisting with the management of the All Day Ministers Seminars (ADMS).
With many years of personal experience, John saw the need to grow the Basic Seminar registrations; in 1982, he reestablished the Group Coordinator Program for all fifty-two U.S. cities hosting the Basic Seminar. The program, initiated in the late 1960s, had been an important key to building the attendance of the Basic Seminars, but the program had not been in operation for three years.
I, like John, had been involved with the Basic Seminar ministry on a volunteer basis since October 1971. I was the Area Committee Coordinator for Portland, Oregon, when John hired me in May 1982 to direct the revived Group Coordinator Program.
Working for John, I quickly realized that he led by example, and his commitment to the Lord Jesus was evident to all who knew and served under him. His commitment to Christ was reflected in his leadership of the ministry.
Authority and integrity were the hallmarks of the administration of his office, and he engaged everyone on a professional level. Every staff member was given a job description and the freedom to fulfill their responsibilities, with the understanding they were answerable for the outcomes.
John maintained organizational order at all times by having a professional dress code and requiring staff to follow normal business practices and standards.
I can remember coming to work and walking up to the back entrance with other staff. John would sometimes be standing at the second floor window, observing staff entering the building for work. Everyone understood that Mr. De Boer expected punctuality.
John’s professional administration of his office, though, was balanced by his concern for the spiritual and practical welfare of the staff and their families. His first admonition to me when I came on staff was “Find a church, join, and be part of its ministry.” There was no such thing as a “staff church.”
Under John’s leadership the IBYC ministry grew. There were three key growth factors of the ministry: The All Day Minister’s Seminars (ADMS), maintaining contact with the Basic Seminar alumni, and the Group Coordinator Program.
Undergirding the fifty-two Basic Seminars held across the country was the All Day Minister’s Seminars, scheduled from February through May, with an annual average attendance of 32,000 pastors. John kept his fingers on the pulse of the ministry by traveling to some of the ADMS locations to greet the pastors and encourage the local committees.
To keep in touch with the Seminar alumni in a personal way, each alumnus received a birthday greeting. Millions of birthday cards were mailed to alumni during these years and John, at times, would go by the mail room to see if the operation was running smoothly.
Also, the Group Coordinator Program he reignited was very effective. In both 1983 and 1984, Basic Seminar registrations increased to over 300,000 people attending each year.
John De Boer was the right man, at the right time, and with the management skills to guide the IBYC ministry through some important times. Under his leadership in the ensuing years, the IBYC ministry flourished organizationally and in advancing the Gospel to individuals and families around the world.
John De Boer will always be remembered by the staff who knew him for his faithfulness to His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; his integrity in leadership; and his genuine concern for the welfare of those who served under him.