Senior Pastor, Brent Whitney
Pastor Brent was introduced to the Christian faith by his parents as his family attended Zion Lutheran Church in Stockton, California. However, Brent drifted from the church while attending UCLA, where he eventually graduated with a B.S. in Psychobiology. Brent met his wife, Jennifer, while attending college and the two graduated from UCLA together in 1995, were married in 1996, and eventually settled down in Elk Grove, California, in 1998. While in Elk Grove, Brent changed career fields from medicine to teaching, working as a middle school and high school math teacher. In 1999, the young couple decided to return to church before starting a family. At St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Elk Grove, Brent and Jennifer were introduced to expository preaching for the first time and became captivated with Christ through the compelling truth of God’s Word. The two firmly planted their faith in the risen Christ, received the gift of salvation through faith by grace, and have been growing in the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God ever since.
In 2000, Brent and Jennifer were invited to help start a church plant. It was a wonderful season of intense spiritual growth that eventually led to leadership opportunities in the church. Brent served as an elder and began preaching occasionally. In response to the call of God in Brent’s life to full time ministry, Brent and Jennifer moved their family to Southern California to attend The Master’s Seminary (TMS). After serving for two years as the Children’s pastor at Christ Community Church in Canoga Park, Brent accepted the call to Country Oaks Baptist Church in 2008 as the Pastor of Children’s Ministry (see Brent’s Visions for Children’s Ministry below), and he graduated from TMS with a Masters of Divinity degree in 2009. In February 2014, Brent was asked to serve as the interim senior pastor of COBC and was confirmed by the Elders after a congregational vote as Senior Pastor in August 2014.
Brent and Jennifer are the proud parents of two sons and two daughters: Christa, Adam, Ella, and Aaron. They enjoy being a family, especially playing together, learning together, laughing together, and searching the Scriptures together. Brent enjoys reading, playing golf, studying theology, and teaching God’s Word through preaching, discipleship, and counseling. He will always have a special place in his heart for the evangelization of children.
Vision for Children’s Ministry
The Bible teaches that every person is born in a state of rebellion against God (Romans 3:10,23) and needs to be forgiven and transformed by the sacrificial death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. So, our primary goal is to lead each child into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through Biblical instruction and prayer.
We believe that the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not the modes by which sinners are saved, instead they are intended to be reminders of the free gift of salvation which Christ purchased on the cross (Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
Therefore, we teach our children the Gospel, praying that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sins and lead them to the cross of Jesus Christ for salvation. After children make a profession of faith and demonstrate fruits of their true repentance, we encourage them to obey Christ’s commands to be baptized and celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection.
Our secondary goal is to make our children into lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ and equip them with a Biblical worldview. We believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, and thus it has total authority over what we believe and how we act. The Bible teaches that it is directly and sovereignly inspired by God and is therefore to be submitted to as His living Word addressed to us (Isaiah 55:11; Romans15:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19–21).
Philosophy of Ministry
Our philosophy of Children’s Ministry is drawn from the wisdom of the Bible. Children’s spiritual instruction is the primary responsibility of the parents (Deuteronomy 6:7; Ephesians 6:4). Biblically, their responsibility extends further than just seeing that children receive instruction. The primary emphasis of our children’s ministry is to support parents as “pastors of the home”. In supporting the ministry of the parents, we endeavor to be a readily available resource to the home. The church provides age appropriate biblical instruction through Sunday morning classes, Wednesday night AWANA club, and a variety of other learning opportunities. However, these programs are designed to simply introduce children to church life and promote theological discussion in the home. God cares about people—not programs. The bulk of spiritual instruction is “caught more than taught” at home as children observe the spiritual habits of their parents. Please keep this in mind as you read about the various elements of our children’s ministry. It’s all designed to help you, the parent, shepherd your own children as the whole family grows together in Christ .
Opportunities for Ministry
The Lord Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. He expects His followers to do the same. Our children’s ministries are only as successful as the people who serve in those ministries. We understand that the church was never intended to be a place for parents to outsource the spiritual instruction of their children to someone else. Jesus provided the church as a place where His followers could gather to receive biblical instruction and to be equipped to do the work of making disciples of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). Country Oaks has over 100 people joyfully serving in children’s ministries each year. We believe this is one of the key factors for the success of this church. As we faithfully serve the Lord, especially by discipling children, we become more like our Savior. When the whole church uses its diversity of gifts for a common purpose – to glorify God – the individuals become a unified body, rooted and grounded in the truth, led by the Holy Spirit and held together by the band of Christ’s love.
We hope that you will decide to make Country Oaks your home. This is a place where you can grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ through His Word and be equipped to lead your family into a closer walk with the Savior along with other loving families, partnering with one another for the same purpose: to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.