Pastor Russell B. Johnson, the lead pastor at The Pursuit NW and Christian content creator, is set to be a speaker at this year’s March for the Martyrs.
We spoke to Pastor Russell Johnson about the church’s responsibility to be a voice of truth in our confused culture.
Pastor Johnson refers to himself as a “recovering politician” on social media. For over a decade, he worked in politics and lobbying. Now he’s devoted to preaching Christ in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest, discipling his congregation through a confused and politically infused culture.
“Paul calls the church the center of truth and culture so the church has a role and a responsibility to speak to cultural issues of our day,” Pastor Johnson said. “Eventually, [the culture] comes knocking on your door.”
Pastor Johnson speaks from experience. Politics and culture eventually came knocking on Pursuit’s door. During the pandemic, Pastor Johnson and his church refused to close its doors and abide by COVID protocols, which demanded indoor services be limited to 25% or 200 persons.
In February 2021, the county health board sent Pursuit a 14-page letter recommending the Washington State Attorney General’s Office pursue prosecution for complaints over the church’s violations of COVID protocols.
The letter did not specify the regulations violated by Pursuit NW, the Lynnwood Times reported.
Responding to the health board’s letter, Pastor Johnson posted a YouTube video titled “We Ain’t Canceling Church.” In the video, he cited the first amendment’s protection of the right to assemble for worship and stated that while he does trust the science, he does not trust politicians.
“This coordinated campaign of intimidation and harassment against this church will not work,” Pastor Johnson declared in the video. “We cancel sickness. We cancel disease. We cancel fear and demons and darkness. We cancel power-hungry politicians but we ain’t canceling church.”
In addition to a potential lawsuit, the state also threatened to put Pastor Johnson in county jail for 90 days and fine Pursuit $10,000 a day. However, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office never carried out the lawsuit against Pursuit nor did the state execute its other threats.
“We just refused to allow the State to bully us into shutting our doors, not worshipping, not taking communion,” Pastor Russell said. “I think we’re at a cultural tipping point in the West. We’ve quickly moved into a kind of post-Christian era.”
Speaking God’s truth in the midst of a confused culture is an ongoing theme of Pastor Johnson’s preaching. He hopes to encourage and equip Christians and Christian leaders to speak clearly on today’s cultural issues so they will be prepared for when the church must stand firm.
“I think it’s more important that the church and its leaders find the ability to clearly communicate and provide context for why we believe what we believe and advocate for it,” Pastor Johnson said. “The culture doesn’t care how big the church is as long as you stay inside of it. We’re advocating for folks to really be a voice for truth both inside and outside the church. When the church loses its belief, the nation loses its moral compass. [Right now is] an opportune time for all leaders and churches to take their place on the stage of history.”
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Photo: Pastor Russell B. Johnson, provided courtesy of Pursuit NW.