Dr. Brian Russell is passionate about God’s mission. Period. Through preaching and teaching and writing Dr. Russell, Associate Provost and Dean of the School of Urban Ministries, strives to connect the gospel with both church and world.
“My mission is to contemplate, learn and practice the deepest truths of Scripture in order to communicate them meaningfully, lovingly and in transformative ways to others through writing, teaching and speaking,” he said.
Dr. Russell began working on the Florida Dunnam Campus in 2000. He grew up in a working class neighborhood in Akron, Ohio. Always academically inclined, his roots have kept him grounded and helped him to communicate the Gospel clearly and richly by translating deep truth into everyday language. Brian realized that if he wasn’t careful not one person would recognize what he said. The diversity of Orlando has verified the necessity of learning to think carefully about how the Gospel is articulated. And he wasn’t talking about the accent.
“I realized that most people don’t understand anything we say about God because we communicate to a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” Dr. Russell said. “We use theological words that people don’t know and say words without meaning. I don’t advocate abandoning traditional language, but I am passionate about translating it.”
Brian seeks to address this through his work with the School of Urban Ministries on the Florida Dunnam campus. The School of Urban Ministries is located in Orlando, a gateway city. Because of the mix of cultures, languages and religions, opportunities for learning and ministry abound.
“Dr. Tennent once said that the world is in my parish,” Brian said. “That is never more true than in Orlando. You can’t live in Orlando and not be global in your perspective.”
The Florida Dunnam campus is a hub for post-traditional learners. The entire campus is designed around a commuting community. Many students travel to campus for intensive classes and then return to their ministry contexts.
“Most students have had significant ministry and life experience, so they’re not coming to seminary so much for training in ministry, but to be re-tooled while in ministry,” Dr. Russell said.
Dr. Russell sees God moments in his students everyday.
“Everyday is a God moment,” he said. “I see how God has used students to lead the way in missional ministries to people who aren’t being reached by pastors.”
Dr. Russell has been working to equip others for transformative ministry ever since he felt called to full time pastoral ministry at 18. During his time at Asbury Theological Seminary, he realized that he loved studying Scripture and with the encouragement of his teachers, he began to sense a new future. His calling started to shift, as he realized that God was calling him to teach others.
“I’ve always been open to wherever God was leading,” he said. “I challenge myself to grow and have worked hard so that when opportunities emerge, I’m ready when God opens the doors.”
Brian continually works to be the best version of himself, maturing in his body, mind and soul. He is passionate about wholistic wellness, exercising daily, eating healthy food and surrounding himself with interesting, passionate people.
“Emotional and physical health helps you be the gospel in and around your community, as people see someone who reflects who Jesus is,” Dr. Russell said.
Dr. Russell is married to Astrid Robles and has six children and two grandchildren. He also serves as an editor for Seedbed’s Onebook biblical curriculum. In his free time, he loves to read widely, cook delicious and healthy food, exercise and follow European club and International soccer.
Listen to Dr. Brian Russell talk more about his new book on the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast.
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