Sometimes a guy just needs permission to think for himself. Sometimes a person finds himself on a path that starts in typical places but doesn’t end up in typical places. And sometimes he loves it. And sometimes, God finds a way to reach people that maybe wouldn’t be reached otherwise.
Years before Russell Clum (Bachelor of Science in Preaching Ministry ’07) ever ventured to the campus of Boise Bible College, his dad was led to Christ by then-Associate Pastor of Pasco Christian Church, Bill Krause. Fast forward to Darin Hollingsworth serving as Russell’s youth pastor. Darin and Russell travel to BBC for graduation and are at breakfast with Mr. Krause, at the time a professor at BBC. Asked what it would take to get Russell to BBC, Bill says, “Well, I suppose we’ll show him what we have to offer and let him and God decide.” With those “liberating words,” as he says it, Russell didn’t even make it across the state line headed home before he knew he’d be enrolling.
As Russell sat in Professor Chuck Faber’s office during his freshman year, a little intimidated and shy, Mr. Faber asked him why he was in college. He simply answered, “I think I’m supposed to plant churches.” He says Mr. Faber held on to that through his whole BBC experience and became his professor, mentor, friend, fellow cyclist, a formative influence academically, pastorally, and personally.
Taking himself a little too seriously, Russell lived a reclusive life, to the point of living off-campus. A friendship soon developed, however, with Ryan Faber (BS’05), Chuck’s son, and they regularly found themselves at places like McDonalds, the PacOut, or Parilla Grill unloading their stuff on each other. They decided to rent a place together, and this led to perhaps some unconventional ways of reaching people for Jesus. Nearly every night, they ventured to a local coffee shop to do homework, stayed till closing, and made friends with people who had little or no association with the church. Russell says, “It was the first time either of us chose to willfully incarnate the Gospel.”
They hoped that when their new friends’ lives hit the fan, they’d know Russell and Ryan loved them and were available. “Amazingly,” he says, “it worked!” It’s shaped much of his current life and ministry. Today, he still has more friends who don’t know Jesus than those who do. He lives what he calls an awkward pastoral life, drinking coffee and beer, eating a lot of food, having way too many conversations for his shy introverted self, and it’s a “lovely life following Jesus.”
In college, Russell continued to meet friends who were on perhaps atypical Bible college paths. Tony Cole, (BA’10) and Daryl Answer, (BS’10) found in Russell a friend who accepted them and walked with them through life. Russell and Daryl would come to discover their mutual love for the outsider, the oppressed, the vulnerable, the marginalized. They also shared some disillusionment with the church but found they couldn’t quit on it. Their friendship helped them both work through that, and both are involved in effective ministries today. See the BBC Outreach issue Winter 2020 for an article on Daryl’s ministry in Kansas City.
Russell sees Boise Bible College continuing to send out a steady stream of Jesus-loving, theologically informed, community-aware servant leaders who are each expressing a highly contextualized version of the kingdom where they live, work, and play.
After serving nine years at Eagle Christian Church and earning an MDiv degree from Lincoln Christian University, Russell founded Church of the City in inner-city Portland under the direction of CEA. Friend and mentor Chuck Faber served on the start-up lead team. Russell describes it as a vibrant, rich, gospel-centered, Jesus-loving, neighborhood-focused church community reaching people at the margins. He co-pastors the church, serves alongside city leaders, and is blessed with an amazing family – wife Emily, former BBC student, and son, Jude, and daughter, Charlie.
Russell sees BBC continuing to send out a steady stream of Jesus-loving, theologically informed, community-aware servant leaders who are each expressing a highly contextualized version of the kingdom where they live, work, and play. This is due to its commitment to scholarship and living out of humility. For him, the organic community at BBC was amazing. He finds Jesus and his ways to be incredibly innovative and sees BBC following Him. To Him, that’s all pretty amazing.
Russell was scheduled to be a speaker and lead a workshop on “Reaching People at the Margins: Church Planting in the Northwest” at Spring Conference.
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel ALL GROUP EVENTS on campus through the end of the semester. We are still considering future events after May. Please see our updates regarding Covid-19 for more information.
Please be in prayer for our world as we are negotiating around the effects of this pandemic. May God’s church thrive as we help our neighbors and love in the name of Jesus.