About Russ
Russ grew up in Miami, Oklahoma, the youngest of six children.  His father was the minister of the First Christian Church in Miami for 27 years.

Russ was baptized as a child, but then as a senior in high school he really experienced a true life-change.

He attended Ozark Bible College in Joplin, Missouri.

Russ moved to Norman, Oklahoma on September 1, 1977.

On June 3, 1993 he married Janna Storey.  She earned her doctorate in communication at the University of Oklahoma, where she now teaches.   Russ and Janna have three kids - Michael age 21, Megan age 19 and Matthew age 14.  
Russ has been in Norman for over 40 years.  He began his ministry as youth pastor at University Christian Church.   There his gift for reaching unchurched kids resulted in dramatic growth - from 7 kids to around 200 junior high and high school kids in two years.

In the fall of 1979, Russ was called by God to start a church that was designed to reach out to people who were far from God. New Life Bible Church became the first contemporary-style church in Oklahoma.  The casual dress, rock and roll band, dramas, media's and relevant talks were quite a shock to some people back then.  Soon, however, they came to realize that underlying Russ' ministry was conservative theology, spiritual authenticity and living a life of integrity.

New Life began in a warehouse and was at the Boomer Theater on campus corner for two years.  They then purchased a property and renovated a 1929 farmhouse to use as a church.  They moved into that building on December 1, 1985 with 85 people present, including children.

The church began to reach more and more people and developed a reputation for being "the church for people who never thought they would like church."

About this time Russ became connected with Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.  He had the opportunity to do a four-month internship there in the winter/spring of 1989.  He was privileged to be invited by Bill Hybels, along with other like-minded pastors, to small retreats that eventually gave birth to the Willow Creek Association.  Today the WCA has over 12,000 affiliated churches worldwide.

In 1996, New Life moved into a new 8500 square foot building, replacing the old farmhouse.  Over the next ten years God used the church to reach hundreds of people.  Between 50 and 100 people were baptized each year, the majority of them over the age of 18.  The church eventually bought, built and moved into a large new building on 25 areas and grew to an average attendance of over 1200.  Having started and led churches with attendance from 85 to 1200, Russ can probably identify with whatever size your church is.   These are the real sermons he did during those times. 

However, after 27 years at New Life, there was a shift in ministry focus and priorities (that is, a giant train wreck)  and so once again Russ followed God's call to start a church dedicated to reaching the unchurched and helping people grow into strong Christians. 

Now pastor of The Seeker Church, Russ is enjoying ministry like never before.  The smaller church enables him to spend lots more time with Janna and his kids.  

Russ' primary gift has always been his love for and affinity with people who are far from God.  His speaking style has been described as laid back, relevant, Biblical, funny, transparent and compelling.  
Leading Music 
On Vacation
Working Hard
Happily Married
Janna Martin
Doing an Interview
Father and son