The strikingly beautiful Christ Church of Oak Brook facility stands boldly on the corner of 31st and York road. During my three years on the CCOB staff, every Sunday morning Henry Van Balen stood at the center door of the sanctuary and welcomed, by name, each person who had attended on a previous Sunday morning. As the number worshiping grew from a few to over 2000, Henry remained at his post welcoming each person by name. How did he do this? I have no clue…and I am not sure he did. It was his gift.
Every Sunday morning, at both services, Debbie Hoffman’s beautiful organ music welcomed people into the sanctuary. Every Sunday morning the call to worship and liturgy were crisp, the pastoral prayer carefully prepared to encourage those present to be honest with God. These were my responsibilities. Every Sunday morning Hughes Hoffman directed the choir – outstanding music to lead us in reflection, thanksgiving and praise.
Every Sunday morning the senior minister, Art DeKruyter, opened up the contents of God’s Word. He came across as God’s man, not afraid to proclaim the whole counsel of God. His sermons were clear, challenging, and informative.
Consistent excellence was the objective, not just on Sunday morning, but throughout the week. Take a moment to check their website: christchurchofoakbrook.org This church, which began in a school room in 1964 with six families, now has well over 5,000 members who worship at the five weekly services.
I was responsible for the Christian education program, all of the small and large groups, with specific leadership responsibility of the Career Group. I was the person people called during off hours if a person had a particular need. In the spring and early summer I would often be the officiating minister for two weddings on a weekend, having previously worked to help prepare the couple for marriage and plan their wedding ceremonies. Sally Jo and I led the one week family camp. And I preached every Sunday evening. During my three years on staff, two were added to the pastoral staff, but my responsibilities did not seem to decrease. I knew I was giving 110% day after day. Looking back I realize that my plate was just too full.
God has gifted me in the area of administration: given me the ability to plan, to lead, to inspire…and to lead worship. I am comfortable with, and enjoy using, each of these gifts, these abilities. I feel comfortable in writing this in the context of Paul’s words to the members of the church at Rome: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” Romans 12:4.
When pastor of the struggling church in Bakerville, I enjoyed my preaching responsibilities – and the church again became a healthy, growing body of believers. And I enjoyed regularly speaking on Sunday mornings to a variety of congregations during my two years as Presbyterian Minister to Students at Middle Tennessee State. But as I have developed and utilized the other gifts God has given to me, the satisfaction and joy of speaking on Sunday mornings has diminished. I now seldom accept invitations to supply preach.
Looking back to my years at CCOB, the area I could most easily have “given up” was speaking at the Sunday evening service. My preparation for this responsibility was often near the bottom of my “to do” list. I am certain this lack of preparation, and probably inconsistent delivery, was obvious to many, particularly the Senior Minister. As the pastoral staff grew, I could have easily relinquished this responsibility to a minister with more time to focus on, and more gifted in, this area. Why did I not step aside, I do not know. Blindness to this reality? Pride? Stubbornness? I truly believe the church, God’s gathered people, would have been better off – and I, and particularly our family, would have benefited.
When living In Partnership With God, I do not believe God gives us more to do than we can do well. Is our plate too full? It can be difficult to recognize this truth, and to take appropriate action.