Jesus said this, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). The leaders of RBC joyfully recognize that Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. We earnestly endeavor to follow His example, obey His teachings, and lead RBC into doing the same.
We believe in qualified leadership
The Bible sets forth qualifications for those who would hold the office of pastor (elder) and deacon in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5). Motives and character matter. Those who would be spiritual leaders at RBC must meet these criteria.
We believe in plural leadership
Christ’s apostles taught, by example and command, a plural form of church government. In other words, the Bible teaches that church leadership is shared among a number of men (Acts 11:30; 14:21-23; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 20:17, 28; 21:18; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim 5:17; Tit. 1:4-5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 1:1-2 w/ 5:1-5).
We believe in male leadership
Although this last point is greatly contested today, we believe that church leadership is designed by God to be male leadership, as taught and modeled by Jesus and His apostles. Men and women are both made in the image of God. Men and women are equal in personhood, dignity, and value, but are distinct in their God-given roles. We believe that the male leadership of the family (Ephesians 5:22-32; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:1-5) is also meant to be exercised in the church (Luke. 6:12-16; Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:8-15). Therefore, we only have biblically qualified men serving as pastors (elders) and deacons.
Allan Kenitz’s Testimony
I’m a sinner saved by the grace of God. I do not want to glorify my time spent in sin and reminisce over those years. It is sufficient to say that I was enslaved to drugs and that I was a blasphemer. I was one of the obvious bad guys. No one doubted where I would go if I died. I deserved nothing but wrath and condemnation, but God extended an amazing amount of mercy and grace to me, even though I resisted Him with all I had. Thankfully He is more powerful than I am. He delivered me from my sin and brought me into His glorious light. I am forever thankful for the cross of Jesus Christ!
Josh Armstrong’s Testimony
There are 4 words I will forever stand in amazement at: Christ died for ME. For as long as I can remember, I always believed there was a higher being “out there” watching, listening, taking notes of my life. And I always believed He was happy with what He saw and heard. I had my bad days where I said the wrong thing or broke some rule in my house. But mostly, I felt I lived up to God’s standard. My parents divorced when I was young and my mom re-married when I was 5. Yet my family life was pretty normal. I was happy.
And yet God described me this way: “… unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice…envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness… gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1)
That was me. And yet in the Lord’s kindness, through my mom’s invitation, when I was 14 years old He led me to a church where I learned that all this time I’d really been living for myself, craving attention and love from this world. I was a sinner deserving of the just and holy wrath of God. Yet Christ died for ME to wash away my sin against Him and place me not where I deserve (hell), but adopt me into His family, declaring me guilty no more. God granted me faith to believe and my life now belongs to Him.
Christ not only blessed me in Christ, but He continued to show off His grace in giving me a loving wife (Janelle) and four kids (Katy, Titus, Anna and Josiah). He has also amazed me in calling me to now care for HIS family here at Reformed Baptist Church, a responsibility that humbles me and brings me great joy. I greatly respect the men on the eldership team and am excited to partner with them in equipping the saints to treasure Christ, grow in Christ, and proclaim Christ.
Scott Penning’s Testimony
My wife and I started attending RBC in 2011 with our 2 children. Since that time we have done a lot of growing individually and as a family. God has richly blessed me as a member of RBC and I am honored to be serving the church as an elder. Here are some highlights of my story.
I was born to Christian parents and was raised as part of the church body. As a child I experienced times where I felt controlled by sin and the power of Satan. Through prayer, I experienced Christ’s power to deliver me from that control. Christ’s deliverance in those times was one thing that He used to bring me to the place where I decided to commit fully to Him and chose to follow him whole heartedly.
Growing up in a Christian household, going to church consistently and attending Christian school all played important roles in giving me a strong foundation for life focused on God and His word. I want to invest my life by working for God’s Kingdom. I know that is ultimately the work that matters, and that is what I should be focused on. I look at the role of elder as a great way to live out my calling, by serving this church body as God leads.
Don Tinney’s Testimony
I existed for my first 38 years without God. I use the word existed because I did not experience life as God defines life in the Bible. I didn’t know God and wasn’t sure God even existed, even though my family went to church every Sunday.
Observing everyone and everything around me, I concluded that life was all about learning how to play the game, learning what to say and what to do to get what I wanted. Whenever I was getting what I wanted, life was good. When I wasn’t getting what I wanted, life wasn’t good, so I worked harder to master the game and fill my life with happy experiences. But, as time passed, I wasn’t happy. I felt empty and miserable.
One day, when I was 38 years old, I heard a preacher say, “You want all the blessings, but you don’t want the Blesser.” That statement described me perfectly. I wanted every good gift I could get, but I didn’t want God to have any control over me because I believed I needed to be in control.
Shortly after that, I prayed a simple prayer to God. I told Him I didn’t want all the blessings. I wanted Him.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” My relationship with the LORD started with that prayer and has continued to grow stronger to this day. His message in the Bible, His good news, became very real and personal to me. I became a new person that day, filled with a joy and peace that was, and still is, inexpressible.
Aaron Bergren’s Testimony
I grew up in a Christian home, went to church every Sunday and attended a private Christian school. Both of my grandparents and the majority of my aunts and uncles were also believers so I grew up hearing the stories from the Bible, learning about God and Jesus and hearing the basics of the gospel.
When I was either near the end of middle school or just beginning high school I started to see that even though I had been a pretty good kid my heart was sinful and prone to love the world rather than God. During that time God started to draw me to himself in a deeper way and I realized that all my outward obedience and conformity to Christian standards could not save me from the judgment and punishment my sins deserved. I saw that only Jesus could pay for the penalty of my sins and change me. I don’t remember an exact day or time when I started to truly repent of my sins and trust in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to save me but I did.
What I did notice was that God started to change me from the inside, from my heart so that I had the power to love and serve God from a genuine heart of gratitude and freedom from sin. I also started to abandon some of the influences that had pulled me away from God before and spending time with some friends I had that were not living for Christ. Some of the ways God really grew me in sanctification and love for him during that time were: I started meeting with an older man who would disciple me, ask me probing questions and give me a hunger for knowing God. I found a group of Godly friends who encouraged me and were pursuing Christ just as I was.
I have felt God impressing on me the importance of the local church so I tried to serve as much as I could at RBC. I feel that a way to fulfill the scripture “to whom much is given much is required” so since I have been blessed in so many ways with excellent Bible teaching, humble and Spirit-filled examples of following Christ through my whole life I believe God calls me to serve as much as he gives me the strength to do so.
Through marriage and having children God continues to sanctify me, conforming me to the image of Jesus, showing me my dependance on him for everything. He also continues to convict me of my sin, gives me forgiveness and peace when I repent.
Mike Bogard’s Testimony
I am priviledged to have grown up in a Christian home, where my folks provided a loving environment and brought me to church as a child. It was at church where I first responded to the gospel after watching some Billy Graham evangelistic movies, and decided to follow Christ and get baptised at age 8. I remember not wanting to be a ‘rebel’ (at least one outwardly–as portrayed in the movies) and saw my need for Jesus. Soon, however, I began to realize how much of one I was inwardly through selfishness, my own pride, and the ‘sin which so easily entangles’ us (from Hebrews 12:1). Thus began my lifelong journey of surrendering to Christ, with various ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ along the way.
God was very gracious in giving me many good friends to help in that journey when I was young and single, but probably the 2 events that He has used the most to make me more into His image are marrying my wife Denise and having 8 children. Children are a blessing from the Lord, and “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord”. It has been through these relationships that I was ‘forced’ to think of people other than myself–not always an easy thing to do when dealing with my own desires and living in this ‘me first’ society!
Finally, a few highlights other than the above are: going to Bangkok, Thailand for a month with Scott Harpe in 2011 to teach English speaking classes and spreading the gospel in a spiritually dark land (as it pertains to Christian faith), and also becoming a deacon in this church in 2015. The deacons are good men, and it has been my honor to minister with them and have many unique opportunities to serve the body of Christ.
Steve Bos’ Testimony
I have been immensely blessed by God’s mercy and grace shown toward me from an early age. Being raised by faithful Christian parents, I was taught the truths of the gospel as a child. These truths became real and personal to me in junior height when God captured my heart and I made a profession faith in Jesus Christ as my savior. I had been baptized as an infant in the Christian Reformed Church and at 13 made a profession of faith in the Reformed Church. As an act of obedience, I was baptized as an adult when we joined RBC in 2000.
God gives gifts to all of his children and in high school I began using my musical talents in church. God has continued to develop spiritual gifts in my life and I’ve been excited to service as a worship leader and as a deacon.
God especially blessed me with a loving, faithful, God-honoring wife and has blessed us with a large family. It has been a constant joy to see God’s faithfulness to my parents, to Pam and I, and now to our children.
I am most thankful for God’s gift of salvation to me – something I did not earn. “No merit of my own, His anger to suppress. My only hope is in Jesus’ righteousness”. The older I get and the longer I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, the more I recognize my indwelling sin and my continual need for a perfect, holy Savior. Attending RBC and often leading the Sunday morning worship time is truly a blessing to me and singing of God’s grace, mercy, kindness and love will be something I enjoy for the rest of my life on earth, and forever in heaven!
Gabe Rex’s Testimony
God saved me, on purpose, through Christ’s death on the cross when I was just a young boy. In the years to follow I continued to grow in my knowledge and understanding of: God’s holiness, and His expectations for His people. I continue to struggle daily against sin and temptation yet I know my soul has been purchased through Christ’s sacrifice. My desire is to please Him and honor Him with my life and be used by God to further His kingdom here on earth through the proclamation of the gospel. I have failed Him many times in life yet he, being rich in grace and mercy, upholds me and continues to sanctify me and enable me to walk in the good works that he places in my path.
James Steele’s Testimony
I was raised by loving parents in a Christ-centered home. Early on, this was really my parents’ conviction and not my own. I grew complacent in my faith and deceived myself into thinking that salvation came through going to church or being part of a Christian family. The friends I surrounded myself with revealed my true heart. I began to look more and more like them than Christ. I followed their advice and influence and drifted toward a life that the world embraces. My life was full of sin, and those I associated with were pulling me in the opposite direction of Christ. But God intervened in a way that was clearly His work. Within the same year, ALL of my friends moved away, not just out of town or down the street, but out of state – out of my life. God was clearly drawing me near to Himself through this. The Holy Spirit began convicting me of my lifestyle of unbelief and fruitlessness. 1 John 2:3 says that “we know we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” He opened my eyes to the desperate problem of my sin. I continued to read God’s Word and learn all over again what my parents taught me from the start—that I am a sinner in need of Christ’s sacrifice, death on the cross, and His resurrection. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It brings me great joy knowing that He forgives me, and not only forgives me but purifies me from all unrighteousness! Now, a redeemed sinner, still in need of God’s grace every day, Jesus is the source of my identity and joy, not the world around me.
Mike Trexler’s Testimony
I was born 10 weeks early and was given a low chance of survival, but my parents prayed that God’s will be done, and He graciously spared me. It was a blessing to be raised in a Christian home and taught the Bible by my parents and at church. However, it was not until I was 7 years old that I realized my sinfulness and why Jesus had to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. I prayed to Jesus for forgiveness and for salvation, asking Him to come into my life as Lord. Afterwards, there was joy, peace and a decreasing desire misbehave or be mean to my sister. I felt more love towards others and wanted to please Jesus and live for Him.
As I grew up, there were several points of affirmation and confirmation of my growing faith in Christ and desire to serve Him and pursue righteousness. Stressful times during college and medical school strengthened my faith, and I learned to trust God for help. One example of God’s help and deliverance was during a tropical medicine elective at ELWA mission hospital in Liberia, West Africa, when civil war erupted in 1996. Powerless against dangerous rebel forces, I and 2000 others were evacuated to safety by U.S. military helicopter. My soul had peace that no matter what happened, God was in control and my eternal destiny was sure. To God be the glory for his deliverance!
The next issue was waiting on God for His timing for a spouse. Eventually during Internal Medicine residency training in Ohio, I met my wife Renee at a Bible study group. We got married in 1999 and benefited from Biblical teaching at our church, where the doctrines of God’s grace and sovereignty were taught. We then moved to Kalamazoo in 2003 and have enjoyed the teaching, worship, prayer and fellowship at Reformed Baptist Church of Kalamazoo.
It has been exciting to see God at work in our lives and the lives of our children. I desire to serve Him and the church through mercy and hospitality ministries, as well as through leading my family and working as a palliative care physician.