Thanking God for Ten Years of Partnership in the Gospel

Appreciation for Chuck & Carol Steddom and Sam & Vicki Crabtree

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6)—and these two couples are a huge part of that. So indulge a very happy pastor as I celebrate what it is about these partners that makes me glad.

1. Both bring masculine force to their work.

You meet it on the basketball court: Sam simply doesn’t miss shots, and Chuck is a gorilla on the boards. But I mean the masculine force in worship and administrative motion. It is no secret I want the leadership of Bethlehem to have a vibrant, strong, wise, tender, gutsy, masculine feel to it. There are too many effeminate churches—especially in worship services—and it is killing the church for men who think this is too silky for them. And it is killing the church for their women who wish they were there growing strong in grace. Praise God for two men who give to the leadership at Bethlehem a humble, strong, and naturally masculine feel. They don’t need to work at it. They embody it.

2. Both of these men married superbly strong partners in ministry, especially at the piano.

Whether it is worship services, weddings, funerals, or other gatherings, Carol and Vicki are models of undistracting excellence. That is, they do their work so well they are almost invisible. There is no distracting flare. There is rock-solid strength in the genre at hand, and I never lose a moment’s peace worrying about their competence or their appropriateness.

3. Both Chuck and Sam have been fruitful fathers who have raised children who walk with Christ.

Praise God for his work in Dawn and Mandi and Allison and Daniel and Alexander and Kiandra. Mom and Dad have done something well.

4. Both serve in such a way that joyful energy is released in my life.

I have come energized to preach every Sunday for these ten years because of the joy I have in the way Chuck leads us. And I leave on trips and come home energized with the confidence that Sam is at the helm and the ship will be on course with a happy crew.

Celebrating Sam

1. An Articulate Defender of the Glorious Reformed Faith

No one surpasses Sam on this staff in the ability to think on his feet and put into compelling words the truths that we value so highly at Bethlehem. Whether fielding questions from newspaper reporters or talking in a business meeting, Sam articulates the vision with skill.

2. Bringing the Oil of Gladness to Administrative Oversight

There is gladness because no one surpasses Sam for the nimble mental ability to see the humorous side to things. And this gift, mingled with depth and empathy and patience, is oil in the gears of this church and does more to make it run smoothly than most people know.

Celebrating Chuck

1. Breadth of Authentic Musical Ability

Orchestra, choirs, solo, contemporary, traditional, gospel, reggae. Chuck can do it all with excellence. He came to us in 1997 at a pivotal point in our history. We had been through three years of tremendous sorrow. There had been no growth as we recovered from the wound and wrestled with who we were and what direction we should go. Chuck arrived as the man of the hour and led us to where we are today. By God’s grace, Chuck did in music what Sam did in administration—brought us from the hard place to the flourishing of these days.

2. Depth of Chuck’s Spiritual Leadership

Many pastors are burdened to the point of resigning by worship leaders who are mechanical and impersonal and technical. Chuck does not put himself forward with mini-sermons in worship. He gets behind the word and exults over it in song. He leads his teams with prayer. My heart leaps up when I go to the choir room and find the whole choir in huddles praying over the service about to happen.

So thank you Chuck and Carol and Sam and Vicki for coming ten years ago. Thank you for staying. I pray that you will finish with me. I thank God for you.

“The Lord is my chosen portion and cup, you hold my lot, the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:5-6).

You four are a huge part of why that is true.

John

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