Lead Pastor - Mike Bartlett
Mike Bartlett grew up in the mountains outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania at a Christian Camp experiencing two radically different worlds: rural Pennsylvania and urban students from New York City. Living at the intersection of urban and rural culture for the first 14 years of his life shaped his values and passions—a love for the diversity and creativity of the city as well as a love for the great outdoors. This was the perfect setting to be exposed to the gospel as it was impacting lives across every conceivable ethnic, economic, and cultural divide. Mike was deeply convicted about his inability to live up to his own standards much less God’s and realized that he need to be rescued. Mike committed his life to Jesus at summer camp and it made a real and lasting impact on his life.
While Mike knew Jesus had saved him, he wasn’t so sure Jesus could satisfy him. In high school and college he desired to be a high-powered lawyer making lots of money. He tried to maintain the balance between keeping himself and God happy. In college someone handed him John Piper’s book Desiring God, which questioned this shallow view of Christianity. Piper argued that God’s glory and our joy our not two competing agendas but one. He said “that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”. While this was an intriguing insight, it was when his career ambitions took a blow God got his attention. Scoring poorly on the LSAT’s kept him from pursuing any top tier law schools. This brought him to his knees asking God what he wanted to do with his life.
With law school plans on hold Mike decided to try a year of seminary. This was an amazing experience, but he was still uncertain about the future. Right as the year was coming to a close; he was offered a teaching assistant job at the seminary and student ministries internship at a local church confirming God’s call on his life. Mike also met his wife Jamie, who was a counseling student at the seminary. He would go on to complete his Master of Divinity at Biblical Seminary while working as a student ministries pastor. Though he enjoyed student ministries; he desired for the whole church to experience the passionate worship, deep community, the freedom and flexibility in reaching people far from God. This passion naturally sparked his interest in church planting, which combines all of these factors. But interest and calling are two very different things, so he prayed and fasted for God’s leading.
God was putting Grand Rapids on both Jamie & Mike’s heart. But they didn’t know how to make the transition from student ministries to church planting. Then God opened the door to a church planting residency at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN working under John Piper whose books were so instrumental in his call to ministry. Bethlehem’s Church Planting Residency was the perfect opportunity to follow God’s call into church planting. Bethlehem provided a hands on view of the inner workings of pastoral ministry in an urban context, as well as great assessment and training for church planting.
During this time Mike was visiting Grand Rapids praying that God would open the doors to a plant in the heart of the city. God brought together an amazing team and a partner church. In July 2010, Mike & Jamie moved to Grand Rapids to spend a year at Crossroads Bible Church in preparation to plant Redemption City Church. Mike & Jamie have four boys Jonathan, Caleb, Benjamin and Samuel.
Worship Leader - Josh Rickard
Josh has a common, yet unique story of worshipping created things rather than the creator. He grew up in Waterford, Michigan in a loving family, attending church but not having a personal relationship with Jesus until much later in life. He was as Ephesians 2 describes, “ dead in trespasses in sin” living in the “passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body.” His sinful nature was one that he sought to showcase as often as possible.
Thanks be to God, in February 2009 He opened Josh’s eyes to the reality of his sin and need for a savior. He had heard the gospel preached from a local pastor. His words of a sinless savior nailed to a cross for his sins pierced his heart and brought about a joy Josh had never felt. God saved Josh and called him to no longer worship himself but instead to worship the one who is above every name, Jesus Christ.
Before moving to Grand Rapids in 2014, Josh spent 7 years in Austin, Texas. During his time there Josh was involved in Urban Church planting as a band member and Worship Leader. This allowed Josh to develop his skills within the music ministry and grow as a disciple of Jesus.
Josh and his wife Emily got married in 2011 and have a beautiful daughter, Nora.
Children Ministry Coordinator - Kirstin Martin
Kirstin grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a loving Christian home, attending a solid Bible-believing church. She trusted Jesus as her Savior at a young age but often lived as though she was trying to earn her salvation, always trying to follow the rules and wondering whether she was really saved.
After graduating from college, Kirstin ended up at a crossroad of sorts. She was tired of working so hard to be a "good" Christian, and never quite getting there, always feeling like God was disappointed in her. For a while she wondered if Christianity was worth the effort. Thankfully God was gracious and began to open her eyes to the truth of His grace: that she was a sinner who could never hope to measure up, and that He was a great Savior who died on the cross so she didn't have to. It has taken her several years to really process what this means for her life and her relationship with God, and she's still trying to wrap her head around it, but it's been life-changing!
Kirstin and Joseph have been married since 2005 and have three children. She is excited to be a part of the children's ministry and prays that each child at RCC will know the freeing grace of the gospel.