Coaching the Body – Russ Hutto Interview
Mathew Reames: Russ, thanks for taking time out of you busy schedule to share your heart with us. For those who don’t know Russ is a musician, graphic designer, fitness guru, and most recently a proud papa. Russ, seeing as you are a graphic artist, lets start by discussing that. You work with secular corporations as well as churches and Christians. Is there a difference in dealing with Christians and dealing with non-christians?
Russ Hutto: Thanks, Mat. I’m definitely in an exciting season of life with my firstborn son, Liam, joining our life and world this past June! That along with being a trainer at a new growing gym AND doing full-time graphic design work keeps me busy! I actually work with several firms who publish hometown living type magazines. They are all very family-oriented. That being said, I really try and work “as unto the Lord” regardless of who my employer or client is. All of my clients know that I spend a great deal of time working with the Church and from the get-go I’ve established that community as being very important to me. My goal with that is two-fold:
- they know and understand when I’m available and when I’m not.
- they understand that it’s a big part of my life!
MR: Interesting, when it comes to graphic design and digital media, what advice would you give to Christians, churches, and ministries seeking to move into the digital age?
RH: First, I’d say that looking at media, design, music, and I guess anything that would fall under the “arts” category as another mode of worship is very important. I know that some folks might not categorize tech and design like that, but I think it’s important that everyone in leadership recognizes that the visual and audio arts can be just as important a part of the offering of worship at any given gathering. Secondly, I’d say not to get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones.” Having the latest and greatest doesn’t make you a better church. Having MTV-like tech production doesn’t make you a better community. Creating an environment where people are valued and can connect with one another as they journey together in faith and worship is what it’s all about. If the media and design doesn’t support that in some way, it’s wasteful. It’s all about the Kingdom!
MR: You are more than just a graphic designer, of course you come from a family of musicians and are quite a skilled worship leader. Is there a connection between the two? What I mean is, how does your work in one area affect your work in another?
RH: I love helping create an environment with music where people can join their voices together in worship and at the same time learn and grow in their understanding of the character of our God. I especially enjoy working with folks on the fringes. By that I mean younger, less talented musicians, or even adult musicians who aren’t quite as experienced. My official “role” at St. Simons Community Church is High School music mentor/coach. I get to coach and mentor high school students in their gifts. It’s amazing! Along with that, I volunteer at the local college campus ministry as well doing basically the same thing – mentoring and coaching worship leaders. Of course, I love when I get to lead, but honestly, I get more joy when I’m in the back of a room watching or on a djembe or guitar while one of our students is leading their peers. That is a great experience as well!
MR: What do you think is the best advice you could offer to people who are creative and want to expand their creativity?
RH: Find something you love that stimulates your creative mind and do it. It could be something literally in the same field, or it could be something totally different. For me it’s fitness.
MR: Ok, let’s talk fitness. I know it’s a bit of a left turn, but why not? You are active in your local Crossfit, and are continually training. What sparked this, have you always been into fitness, or is it a recent change?
RH: It’s actually not that much of a left turn, because my “creative” mind is sharpened when my “physical” mind is challenged. The way that I do that is through physically challenging workouts at CrossFit Brunswick. I got started with CF a little over 2 years ago. I’ve never been into fitness or sports up until a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, as a young person I was very active and enjoyed backyard sports and pick up games, but I never really participated in organized sports. I was more of a musician growing up!
MR: Is there a spiritual side to your working out as well? Or is it simply for physical health?
RH: In a sense, one of the reasons my mentoring and coaching just really lit up over the last 2 years is because of CrossFit. Believe it or nor, our philosophy and model of operation at CF is very similar to the way Jesus operated. We are passionate about our fitness philosophy (along with nutrition) and our folks see us engaged in it and living it out, and so they are, too. We talk a big talk AND we walk a big walk. We also provide a DAILY opportunity for folks to walk it out as well. At out local gym we don’t do any traditional media marketing or advertising. It’s all word of mouth. When people are outside of the gym and talk about how great they feel and how hard they’re working inside the gym, “outsiders” notice and want what they’ve got (or think they’re lunatics!). Anyways, when I got certified almost 2 years ago and began to experience and coach people in fitness and nutrition, my spiritual “coach” was awakened. I had a renewed desire to help folks in their musical gifts and to challenge them to grow in their understanding of God and His Word.
MR: Ok, one more left turn, let’s talk Bible. What have you been studying, learning, and hearing from God lately?
RH: I’ve been living in John 5 the last month or so. It’s a passage my homegrown has been studying over this time. I’ve been so inspired and at times amazed at how Jesus is simply revealing who He is and who the Father is in this passage. On the surface it seems like He’s scolding the religious folks who are trying to entrap Him, but if you read it several times (and intentionally more slowly) you’ll see Jesus really just explaining in great detail who He is and how He’s equal with the Father and how they’re missing it. It’s a pretty exciting passage!
MR: Ok, one final question. Are there any resources you would recommend that people check out? Books, Music, Video, Webites, Podcasts, etc..?
RH: I’m the editor of The Worship Community so I’m really proud of that community. With our member-driven content, reviews, and active forums section, it’s a great resource for Worship Leaders and ministry team members who are working in the trenches week in and week out. If you’re interested in some intense fitness with some great coaching check out your local CrossFit. If there is not one near, then find somewhere you can do something that you really enjoy, and try and find a community to join with that activity at its core. Also, The Echo Life is a great new website that really merges the idea of walking out your faith and taking care of your body.
MR: Thank you so much for your insight. I love how you are building up the whole body, physical and spiritual. I am reminded of 1st Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I appreciate you taking the time to teach, or should I say coach us. For those who want to know more about Russ follow him on twitter @russhutto and check out his website RussHutto.com