Meet Our Newest Elder Candidate: Russ Collins
News | by Pastor Adam Sinnett
On Sunday, we presented Russ Collins to the church as an elder candidate.
Therefore, we are taking the next month to give you time to meet with him, ask questions, and/or express any concerns you may have. One of the over-arching qualifications for a pastor is that he must be “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:1). While we have done our homework, this waiting period is an additional step to ensure all bases are covered and you have an opportunity to speak into the process.
The office of pastor (or elder) was created by God, for the leading, feeding, and protection of his flock, the local church. Therefore, we treat the testing, equipping and installation of such men with great seriousness—and joy!
Russ will not be on DCC’s pastoral staff, but will serve as an elder in a volunteer capacity (i.e. non-staff pastor). Therefore, by necessity, the scope of his pastoral involvement will be limited when compared to a staff pastor. However, his service will be equally significant. As a non-staff pastor, Russ will be involved with preaching, teaching, counseling, officiating weddings and funerals, elder meetings and practical leadership (which currently includes leading a Cornerstone Community).
Our aim is to raise up many non-staff pastors, like Russ, as it helps diversify and strengthen the elder team and, therefore, the church. Russ will be our third non-staff pastor.
Russ is a good man with integrity, love for Jesus, and for Jesus’ church. As elders, we believe he is called, qualified, and ready to be appointed as a pastor. However, we are taking this time in case you know something that we do not.
That said, would you pray for the Collins in this season? Would you also pray for our church? It is a sign of God’s grace to us that we have men, like Russ, being raised-up to lead, feed, and protect Jesus’ flock. Let’s ask Him for more.
Provided nothing arises that would cause us to pause the process, which we don’t foresee, we will install Russ as a pastor on Sunday, October 4th. It will be a great celebration and a joyous moment.
What follows (below) is a short interview with Russ so that you can get to know him a bit better.
Christ is all,
On behalf of the elders of DCC
Q: How did you meet Jesus? How has he changed you?
RC: I grew up in the Bible belt (Waco, TX to be specific), but not in a Christian home. I walked the aisle of a Southern Baptist church and asked Jesus into my heart as a junior in high school. But I was like the rocky ground and the ground with thorns. I received the word with joy, but it was short-lived. The cares and desires for things of this world choked the word. Despite this, I thought I was still a Christian because I had prayed a prayer and had a salvation date and was told not to doubt my salvation. It wasn’t until I was 33 through a string of providential people, events and reading of God’s word and apologetic books that I realized I was a sinner and that God’s just wrath was upon me. I had not truly trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. One book I was reading went through the “Romans Road” (How To Give Away Your Faith by Paul Little), and I saw more clearly the gospel: how all have sinned and fall short of glory of God and that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. The author basically said that saving faith is a surrender to the lordship of Jesus in all areas. I initially resisted that idea because if I did that, my family, friends, and co-workers would think I was crazy. I was taught that you just have to believe facts about Jesus, but don’t have to surrender to Him. But in time, God in his grace and mercy opened my eyes to my lostness and depravity and the fact I had been deceived by my prior confession. (Paul’s exhortation in 2 Cor. 13:5 to examine yourself to see if truly in the faith had never been taught to me. In short, I failed the test.) I then repented and believed on Jesus Christ alone for salvation and surrendered my life to him. I received his forgiveness & eternal life and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to me. Thank you, Jesus! In short, my eyes were opened, and I knew Jesus and the Bible were all true. By the way, my family, friends, and co-workers did think I was crazy, but I didn’t care because I understood my true lostness and received God’s grace.
Prior to saving faith, I was frankly successful by the world’s measure. I had a wonderful wife (still do), nice home, two kids (now three) and was climbing the corporate ladder. I was consumed with me, my career, and had no desire to read God’s word, pray, repent of sins, or love others sacrificially, and cussed like a sailor. Upon conversion, that all changed. My affections and actions were turned upside down or, rather, right-side up. I now desire and strive to: know, love and follow Jesus and His word, live for God’s glory, love my wife sacrificially, read Christian books to grow in my knowledge, point my kids to Jesus and the gospel, love others (in the church and out), see God as ruler and not me, grow in seeing God’s grace in my life, repent of sin I am aware of, pray, have outreach Bible studies, serve the church, reach the lost locally and afar, etc. Along the journey, there have been many trials and tribulations, but God’s grace continues to prove sufficient.
Q: Tell us a little about your family.
RC: I am blessed with a beautiful (inside & out) wife, Julie, and three wonderful children (Kylie – 26 years old, Grant – 24, and Grace – 20). I met Julie at Baylor University, where we both graduated. This December 9th, Julie and I will be celebrating 31 years of marriage! The Lord graciously saved us both in the fall of 1998, after being married almost nine years. Our worlds were turned around after that as we sought, and still do, to honor Jesus in our lives.
We lived in the Dallas area until the consulting company I am with, Protiviti, asked if I would consider transferring to lead our PNW practice. Moving to Seattle and running an office were not on my “To Do” list, but we ultimately concluded this was where the Lord wanted us. We moved here in 2016.
Kylie is an elementary school teacher and taught three years at a public school in the Los Angeles area before moving here this summer to take a job at a private, Christian school. Grant played baseball at a small university in California where he received his undergraduate degree in accounting and finance. In May, he graduated from UW with his Master’s in Accounting. He has spent all summer studying and taking the CPA exam. He will move to Dallas later this month to start his career with Ernst & Young. Grace is a sophomore at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA and is studying business. As a family, we enjoy hanging out together, watching movies, going to sporting events and traveling.
Q: What are you most passionate about?
RC: The first things that come to mind are Jesus and the gospel and all that it entails. I never want to get past the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want it to guide my personal life and the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters. I am still amazed to this day that Jesus has saved me, and I now get to know and serve him. Truly, amazing grace.
I am also passionate about reaching lost souls with this gospel, whether with family, neighbors, co-workers, those that come to DCC, and those throughout Seattle, Washington, and the world. I have taught numerous outreach Bible studies over the years. I am also on the board of, and involved with, two international mission agencies: one serves Uganda and the other serves Dubai. Both ministries involve the local church, and both have started a seminary in recent years. Julie and I also give to other missionaries to help, in some way, reach the lost across the globe.
And of course, I am passionate about my family and love them very much.
Q: How did you get involved with DCC?
RC: After moving from Dallas, I looked at various churches in Seattle and the surrounding area. I was looking for a church that preached and lived out the Bible and was gospel centered. And I wanted some passion from the pulpit. To be honest, my search was a little discouraging. I finally looked up suggested churches on the 9Marks website and saw DCC listed. My first visit was on the sanctity of life Sunday and Pastor Adam was bringing it! He was defending biblically and graciously pro-life and boldly proclaiming the gospel. I remember looking around and asking myself, “Am I in downtown Seattle?” Frankly, I was blown away.
I continued to look at other churches as I am one who takes church commitment seriously and wanted to be at the right place for me and my family: one that would continually point me to Jesus, His word, and the gospel. I also wanted a church led by godly elders that would be looking out for my soul. So as part of this process, I sought to get to know the elders. Long story short, we decided to make DCC our home in the fall of 2016 and have never looked back. Once here, we simply asked where the church needed help and served in those areas.
Q: What are your current areas of oversight?
RC: For the past two years, I have been an apprentice in community with Daniel Hallak. He and his family have recently moved, so I will provide oversight now. In addition, I lead DCC’s financial advisory team. I help teach a class called Exploring Christianity, and Julie and I have also taught/participated in pre-marriage classes. We also have been active in teaching DCC kids for the past several years.
Q: How did you determine you were called to be a pastor?
RC: I have been an elder before, at a much smaller church in Texas, and that was several years ago. In the fall of 2018, Adam invited me to participate in a weekly Elder Development Cohort with some men. That was a very encouraging and growing time. Soon after that class, Adam asked if I would consider going through the elder candidate process, and I said I would think and pray about that. I was and am content to be a faithful member and submit joyfully to our elders (Heb. 13:17). I was also quite busy helping my firm’s local office stabilize and grow our PNW business. I know from experience that being an elder is a demanding role, yet one with great blessing. So, I wanted to take some time to consider.
About a year ago, with encouragement from Pastor Adam and some other men, I started the eldership process to seek the Lord’s will. The process is quite involved and requires a lot of self-examination. There are a lot of questions to answer in writing, around personal, theological, and practical matters. There is a pretty intensive interview process that my wife and I went through. I also got to observe our elders in action during their elder meetings. (Observing those meetings, I saw firsthand the love and care our elders have for the people of DCC.) Throughout this year long process, my heart for the people and purpose of this church grew.
I am not perfect by any means and, like all of us, continue to be sanctified; but I do believe that, by God’s grace, I am biblically qualified. I have a heart to love Jesus’s local flock: to know, feed, protect, and lead. I want to see myself and others grow in our love for Jesus, the gospel, the Bible, his church, one another, and the lost. As I get older, eternity is ever more real to me. I see more and more the brevity of this life and that eternal souls are all around. I continue to be driven by John Piper’s book, Don’t Waste Your Life, that I read many years ago where he quoted part of a poem: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.” I want to serve wherever Jesus wants me to. Throughout the elder application process, I have been affirmed by others, including our elders and my family. It is my desire to serve the people of DCC in this role (1 Tim. 3:1). If this is ultimately the Lord’s will, I am deeply humbled and grateful to serve in this way.
Q: How can we be praying for you and your family in this season?
RC: We are going through transition: our oldest daughter has moved to Seattle; our son is about to move to Dallas to start his career, and our youngest daughter is away at college amidst all that is going on in the world. And if the Lord wills, I will take on this role of elder at DCC. We would welcome prayer that we would keep our eyes on Jesus and seek His glory and His will, as well as walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.
I would also welcome prayer for the upcoming Exploring Christianity class and a weekly Bible study that my wife and I started a few weeks ago with my parents, my brother and sister and their respective partners in Texas (using Zoom). Please pray that the Lord would work mightily through these studies and that I would rightly and graciously handle the word of truth.
Let’s be praying for the Collins and our church during this time!