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LIFE recently sat down with Angie Roberts. Angie has been on staff at Wheaton Bible Church for more than a year but is now taking on a brand-new assignment—new to her and new to the church—Volunteer Staff Coordinator. Meet Angie in the pages ahead, and learn about what she’ll be doing.
Tell us a little about your growing-up years.
I grew up in a small town in Kansas, raised by my mom, who was a single parent for most of my early years. I remember her taking us to church on Sunday when I was small. I loved it there! I can’t sing—I really can’t sing—but I would get up in front of that small congregation and sing on a Sunday morning. I would sing “Amazing Grace.” And in July I would request Christmas songs, and they would always sing them for me. And then I’d go to a kids club on Wednesdays. The girls’ group was called the Missionettes, and the boy’s group were the Rangers.
Around junior high we moved to another town, and my mom remarried. The man she married, who became my stepdad, was a Christian man and a wonderful father, but we didn’t go to church very often.
When did you come to faith in Christ?
I was nine when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and I remember Pastor Wilbur, baptizing me in the lake near the church. But there wasn’t much going on spiritually in my life after that. I was a good child, but when your family isn’t going to church or doing much in the way of spiritual training, you aren’t growing a strong faith.
I was still a good kid when I went off to college at Kansas State University. I didn’t go off the track or go crazy wild. In my junior year I started dating Cory, who is now my husband.
Cory was a believer who had grown up going to church with his dad, who was a Christian. And even though his dad made sure they went to church every Sunday, Cory didn’t have a growing relationship with Christ.
What happened after college?
Cory was in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Kansas State, so when he graduated from college, he was commissioned as an Air Force officer.
Our first assignment was in Texas, and for the nine months we were there, we tried to find a church home. But even though we visited several churches, we never got connected.
Our next stop was Guam, where we stayed for two and a half years. There was a Bible-teaching protestant church right on the base, so that’s where we attended, but not consistently, and very little of what we heard on Sunday carried over into our everyday lives.
We found a church right away when we moved to Sumter, South Carolina. It was recommended by the officer and his wife who were our sponsors—the people who help show you around and get you acclimated to the area.
And they weren’t the only ones in that community who were interested in helping us find a church home! One of the first questions from our realtor, as she was helping us find a house, was, “Do you guys have a church?” In fact, just about everyone we met, including the guy who came to sell us a security system, asked us if we were looking for a church.
The church in Sumter met in the auditorium of a small college in the town. It was a lot like Wheaton Bible Church—obviously not as big or as many ministries—but the same kind of Bible teaching. We really loved it there, and we went almost every Sunday. That was a time when we were growing spiritually and realizing that we needed God to be a part of our lives.
What brought you to the Chicago area?
After serving in the Air Force for six years, Cory was deployed for the first six months of our son, Canyon’s, life. After that deployment he was home for a couple of months until he got a one-day notice that he was being sent back to the Middle East.
It was a very hard time for me, so I took Canyon back to Kansas for Christmas. That was when we found out that my dad had a tumor and the pancreatic cancer that eventually took him from us. Fortunately, Cory was able to find a flight back to be with us, but it was all very difficult.
All this got Cory thinking about the future, and even though he had planned to be a career Air Force officer, he decided to get out and started looking for a civilian job. The following spring, six years ago, he took a job in Chicago with a real estate property-management firm, and we moved to Bartlett.
What brought you to Wheaton Bible Church?
When we first moved to the area, we were going to a church very close to our home but not really connecting. Cory came home one day and said, “I was driving down North Avenue, and I saw a sign where a church is being built on North Avenue. Maybe we should check it out.” So we got online and started reading about Wheaton Bible Church. We thought it sounded a lot like the church we went to in South Carolina and decided we would try it.
We marked in our calendar the day that the new campus was going to open, and we came that very first Sunday.
Right from the start we loved everything about this church! We were so impressed by how we were greeted as we walked in. Somebody was there to show us where we needed to go to drop off Canyon and to help us find our way around.
When we took Canyon to the Children’s Ministry area, he just went right in! At the last church we attended, he would often cry in the nursery. Many churches we’ve been to would have all the kids of different ages together, and you were never sure from week to week who was going to be in there. We had been uncomfortable with that, but here, all the age divisions for the classrooms were just amazing, and the art on the walls was so inviting and beautiful!
No surprise that we just kept coming back.
How soon did you get involved at WBC?
Because we loved how we were welcomed when we first came to the church, we wanted to do the same for other people. So Cory and I became Greeters on Sunday morning. The next year we went to BELONG and became members of Wheaton Bible Church.
It was a year or so after that when I was at the pool at the Bartlett Community Center with our three kids: Canyon, who is now seven, Sophie, who’s five, and Ava, who is now four. Another mom commented on how little Ava was. She looked really familiar, so I asked her, “You don’t by chance go to Wheaton Bible Church, do you? Were you at Moms Together?” She said yes to both questions, and we started talking. She asked if we were involved in one of the Sunday morning Adult Communities, and I said that we hadn’t done that yet. She encouraged me to try one out, and we did.
Soon after, we found a home in the Covenant Adult Community and really like it. We’ve been part of Covenant for about four years now.
That led us to be part of a Community group, because there happened to be a lot of people from our area at that time—including several new couples like us—and we all formed a Community Group. Having that small group has meant huge growth for Cory and me—it’s become part of our daily lives.
How have you seen God working in your lives?
For sure we’re communicating better as a couple—and we’re praying together. It’s been so good to see the growth in each other and in our marriage.
Both of us are spending more time in God’s Word. Cory loves the Bible teaching on Sundays, and he’s reading the Bible on the train every day. Personally, I’m learning so much from devotionals and from Bible study. And I have a really close friend now that I can pray with whenever I need to, and she can do the same. That’s a big part of why I don’t worry as much. I would worry constantly when Cory was deployed or on temporary duty assignment. And I used to worry about small things too. I would worry if I had turned off the stove or unplugged my curling iron. I could check multiple times before leaving. But that’s something that has really changed for me. I’m not anxious like I used to be.
Our community group also has brought challenge and accountability. When we meet, group members ask us, “Are you guys praying together?” It’s really been within the last four years, as part of that group, that we have really grown and matured in our relationship with God.
So how do you go from attending Wheaton Bible Church to working here?
At Kansas State I studied journalism and mass communications. Then, while Cory was in the Air Force, I earned my master’s in human relations from Oklahoma University. I actually earned the degree in Guam. They flew the professors out to us, and I was able to take classes there.
When we moved to Bartlett, I had an interesting job at the Serta Mattress Company, and I thought I would be working there for quite a long time. I would take calls from people who had stayed in one of the big hotel chains that used our mattresses. If the people liked their mattress, I would look up what style that was and if it was still in production, I would sell it to them. I learned that many people choose a mattress that way.
Then I had a surprise pregnancy with Ava, and at that point I wasn’t earning enough to make it worthwhile to hire a babysitter for three children. I stayed home for a year and then did daycare for two years with a neighbor’s kids. I loved those kids, but daycare just wasn’t something I really enjoyed. So I started to look for something else.
I told Cory how great it would be if I could work at our church, so I would check the website every once in a while. One day there were about five postings, but one really stood out. It was an administrative assistant for the Connect team. I knew Marie Allison from when she and Lon had taught in Covenant, from times I helped with hospitality for certain events, and from when Cory and I served as greeters. So I applied and got the job.
What was your role?
I helped oversee what we call Front Door Ministry—the greeters, the parking team, the Gatekeepers and others who serve at the Welcome Desk, and the ushers and others who help to welcome people to Wheaton Bible Church. I also helped with BELONG, the membership class, and helped with the details of Alpha and Discover Serving. I enjoyed communicating with the people who signed up for any of the classes and encouraged the volunteers who served with us in all those ministries.
I like the people I work with and the atmosphere I’m working in, and I like to be busy. I’ve had jobs where there’s never enough to fill the time, and it was just boring. But with my job here, there was always something to do, so it’s been a great match.
But now you have a new job.
Yes, I’m just starting my new role as Volunteer Staff Coordinator. When they were talking about creating that position, I didn’t apply because I was so comfortable in the job I was doing. I did wonder who would be joining our team in this new role.
Then Marie asked if this might be something I’d be interested in, and I started thinking about it. I was drawn to the idea of caring for our volunteers and inviting others to be part of what’s happening at Wheaton Bible Church. I love the idea of helping grow a culture where serving is the most natural thing for everyone.
Where might someone in the church come in contact with you in your new role?
Basically, what I am doing is helping people who want to serve find the best place for them to serve. I help connect them to a ministry where God can use them—their gifts, their interests, their experiences—in His Kingdom. Another part of this job is helping people understand and use their spiritual gifts.
I’ll also be meeting people who come to the BEGIN or BELONG class, sitting down with them and talking about the different places they can connect through serving. Discover Serving, a class that is offered the second Sunday of every month, is another place people might meet me. Marie teaches the class, and then I meet with people and follow up.
People also reach out to us through the website as their first point of contact in the area of serving—seeing a need and sensing it might be something that they are interested in. And, of course, we get people who call and say, “Hey, I’m interested in serving. Not sure where” or “I want to do this.” Those kinds of calls will most likely be connected with me.
I imagine you are pretty familiar with the different places people volunteer at WBC.
That was one of the reasons I started thinking the volunteer coordinator position would be a good fit for me—because I’m already familiar with a lot of the ways people serve here. In my first job here, I went through all the volunteer descriptions for every ministry of the church and entered them in MyWBC (our internal communication system).
Beyond that, I’ve been working with the people we call “ministry connectors” in each ministry area, people who serve as the main contact for all the volunteers in their area—whether they volunteer with Children’s Ministry on Sunday mornings or Women’s Ministry on Tuesday nights, or somewhere else. I have a relationship already with a lot of people on the staff and with others who a new volunteer would be working with.
So more and more it made sense for me to apply for this new role. Of course, I’ll be stepping outside my box just a little bit, and it will be a bit more challenging, maybe involve a bit more leadership responsibility.
Moving into new territory in some ways?
Yes. Exactly. There’s no book right now that says okay, this is what we’ve done before, because this is a brand-new position. It’s kind of scary to step into a role where there’s no predecessor to show you what’s been done and here’s the “To Do” list. At the same time, it’s exciting. But with my background and education, it just made sense. Once I prayed about it, I could see that it was a good challenge for me to step up, and it was a good time for me to do that.
I believe God’s been preparing me for this, teaching me to rely on Him. I used to think it was all on me, but God has been teaching me more and more—especially over the past few years—to give everything to Him. I don’t always get it right, but I’m learning to rely on God first and know that other things will come together after that.
As you meet people in the church, what would you say to someone who asks, “Why should I serve at WBC?” Why should someone who’s not been involved in a serving role take that step?
The Bible says that we are all called to serve. In 1 Peter 4:10, it says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” But in reality, our busy lives can get in the way of this calling, and we push it into the background. So we have to remind ourselves why we serve, why—on top of our work and our family responsibilities—we should give an evening or precious weekend hours to serve.
What it comes down to for me is that our serving has a bigger purpose than almost anything else in our lives. We serve to grow and advance the Kingdom of God, and as we show God’s love through our serving, we are touching lives in ways we may not even know.
I also believe God gives us fresh joy and passion when we serve Him. For me, the weariness of the day can disappear as I step into my serving role at Awana. On Wednesday night, even after a full day of work, the exhaustion I felt as I left my desk is gone when I see the kids reciting God’s Word and singing of God’s love with huge smiles on their faces. And the ultimate reward is when I see children who aren’t exposed to God’s Word in any other part of their lives are there, memorizing verses and coming back the next week hungry for more.
That’s why I serve and why I am eager to help others find the place where they can have that same kind of experience, of seeing God use their gifts and their interests and their experiences for His purposes and in His Kingdom.