Transformation through Community Impact | Planetshakers

Impacting the community around you is a key characteristic of a successful movement or idea. We were able to sit down with Neil Smith and chat about Planetshakers and the impact they've had in the community locally and around the world. Read more below.

1. Beyond your church walls, how does Planetshakers engage and impact in the community

Planetshakers is active in many spheres of the community, especially contributing to areas of risk and need in the city. This includes planetUNI, our University Ministry that helps with integrating and settling international students, and PlanetBoom, our Youth Ministry that impacts teenagers through schools program and community outreaches. We also have Empower, the community arm of Planetshakers, and one of its focuses at the moment is assisting with settling Syrian refugees into local community.

Outside of Australia, Planetshakers is currently working in Papua New Guinea to bring sustainable change to one of our nearest neighbouring countries. This campaign is called “Believe 2017”, and will take place in August this year. Our strategy is to target the five spheres of leadership, business, education, health and church. We believe in speaking into the mindset of the nation by running leadership training and development. We believe in sustainable planning, employment and development in the realm of business. We believe in developing capacity in the nation through education. We believe making a transformational difference in people’s lives relating to health and hygiene. We believe in developing a church that is a committed to a transformational community approach. We believe that in focussing on these five spheres, we will unlock Papua New Guinea’s greatest strength and asset - her people.

2. What are some initiatives you have supported over the years and can you highlight a few stories?

In 2012, Planetshakers was a part of Carols in Docklands, an outdoor Christmas event. It was a free concert featuring chart-topping artists. We had in excess of 10,000 in attendance.

Speaking of Christmas, every year around December, we also do a gift-giving service in our church, where our congregation bring thousands of gifts to put under our Christmas tree. These gifts get distributed to solo parents, children of prisoners and other families who may not be able to afford gifts themselves.

We also support community causes through our offerings. In 2009, during the Victorian Bushfires, we took up a special offering in our services to aid families affected by the bushfire disaster. And every year, we take up an offering for Solo Parents to help bring joy and provision in the festive season.

3. What local communities does Planetshakers currently have significant presence in?

We have a significant presence at the moment in schools, universities, refugees and other marginalised communities. We run high schools programs in many schools in Victoria, sending our specialist schools team to run motivational and life-skills programs. We have a club on campus in most of the major universities in the state - Melbourne University, Monash, RMIT, Deakin. We run English classes for refugees as well as help them with food and provisions through our “Bag of Blessing” program. In every sphere we touch, we have a multicultural reach; one of the hallmarks of Planetshakers is that we are a “church for all”.

4. How do you see the work of Planetshakers translating/ impacting on a global scale?

I see Planetshakers beginning to step into discipling nations. We are now 20 years into our journey as a movement and 13 years old as a church. More than ever before, we are using all that we have learnt to build into nations. The Kingdom principles we have learnt established in our house can be applied to politics (leadership), business, education, health and, of course, the local church in any community. And God is opening doors for us to speak into nations and have global impact.

5. How do you see the church expanding beyond its own walls in years to come?

Over the years, we are blessed to be able to say that our expansion has been consistent and strong. Our strength has been built over time and we have expanded in capacity through doing the same thing over and over again. In the years to come, we will continue to build in our areas of influence and add to our existing initiatives as we see need and opportunity. The open doors we have encountered in Papua New Guinea is one such example and we expect that in the near future, the global body of Christ will be entering into a greater realm of discipling nations.


Niel Smith is the International Director of Planetshakers.

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The Heart of Leadership | Russell Evans

We had the pleasure to sit down with Russell Evans founder of the Planetshakers movement and talk about leadership, the state of our generation and advice for young leaders.

1. What has been your inspiration for Planetshakers throughout the years?

RE: My inspiration for Planetshakers has really been all about people encountering Jesus. If I roll back everything, it’s the encounters that I have with God that motivate me to create platforms or places for others to encounter God. Whether it’s a Christian in a worship moment, or if the Holy Spirit leads us in a certain way through a message or an altar call, or a moment in a service, or a personal moment. Because those defining encounters literally change people’s lives.

When I was 15, I had a defining encounter. When I was 17, I had a defining encounter. When I was 27, I had a defining encounter. I had encounters along the way, but there are moments in life that change or build the destiny of your life. It’s those defining encounters. So that’s what motivates me. It’s all about winning the world. It’s not about Christians having a nice little time where they just get blessed, but out of their encounter with God they go and make an impact to see the world come to know Jesus.

That’s what motivates me - seeing the world know Christ, and seeing Christian’s encounter Christ and then bring Christ to the world.

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2. In the past 20 years, what changes have you seen amongst the generations then and now?

RE: I think that really, we face the same issues all the time. They just get magnified in each generation. We have probably the most nurtured generation that planet earth has ever seen right now. Gen X was probably a more cynical generation that the millennial generation. Millennials want to change the world and be a part of something, while Gen X were a lot more cynical and often said “show me that it works”. They were a by product of the boomer generation, who were very idealistic, but a lot of those ideals never worked. So the Gen X’s were the people who were hurt by that. Whether that was through family breakdowns or whatever. This made them anti-authoritarian. The millennials are not as much anti-authority, but are more about making a difference in the world. However, they are also more nurtured than any other generation so the work ethic in the millenials is not as strong as it was in Gen X.

So the challenge in this generation is that the millennials are a lot more accepting than Gen X, and absolutes aren’t as defined. So we now have a generation that doesn’t have absolutes, and discipling Christian values in a generation that doesn’t have absolutes is probably the biggest challenge that the church is facing today.

How do you disciple a generation that is so accepting? And it’s a good thing that they are accepting, but where is truth in a generation that doesn’t understand where truth is. Because truth in this generation is simply acceptance of everyone. So I think that is the biggest challenge for this generation.

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3. What is your observation of today’s culture, good and bad?

RE: Similar to the last question - good is that we are a lot more accepting. Which is similar to Jesus, because Jesus loved everybody. But you see true love, has to speak truth. The Bible says that “The Truth will set you free”. So if I really love somebody, I will tell them the truth. So acceptance of everything isn’t really loving people unconditionally. If I love someone unconditionally, then I will tell them truth.

We have a culture that says “love everybody”, but that is really a masked message to tell people to do whatever they want to do. And that isn’t true love. True love is telling the truth, and the truth is based on the Word of God.

We need to tell the truth of God’s Word. Not in judgement, but in love. And accept everybody, but in that acceptance, disciple them into truth. And I think that is the greatest challenge that we face today.

4. What are attributes you look for in leaders?

RE: I look for two things in leaders. The first is a soft heart. A soft heart is a teachable spirit. You can teach people talent, but you can’t teach them a soft heart. It’s somebody who wants to learn. I’ve seen a lot of people over the years who have so much gifting, but because they haven’t had a soft heart, and haven’t been teachable, their talent only gets them to a certain level.

I always tell our leaders that they should have soft hearts and strong minds. Not a hard heart and soft head. We need to get our minds strong in the word of God, get our thinking strong pulling down every accusation. You have to have a strong mind to keep your heart soft.

The second is the ability to reproduce. The Bible says to “be fruitful and multiply” and that we will “know people by their fruit”. There’s a lot of experts in the world today who have an opinion on everything, but I always ask “what have they done?”. Because what they’ve done is what they have an authority in, not what they have an opinion on. Because it’s what we have authority in that we actually have an anointing in to reproduce.

So 1) Do they have a soft heart; and 2) Do they have the ability to reproduce.

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5. Can you offer your best leadership advice to an emerging generation?

RE: Look at the life of Joseph. Joseph’s dream came about because he interpreted the dream of other people. Joseph had a dream, and at the time it was interpreted as prideful and arrogant by his brothers. When he served in Potiphar’s house he interpreted the dream of Potiphar’s, but he was rejected in that house. But he kept interpreting dreams. In the prison, he kept interpreting dreams. What put him in the position of prime minister of Egypt? It was that he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. So interpreting the dreams of all of the people that he was under actually put him in a position to realise his dream.

What makes people great is interpreting the dreams of the people that God has called them to follow. That’s what makes great leaders. To be a great leader, you have to be a great follower.

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6. What do the next 20 years hold for Planetshakers?

RE: What the next 20 years holds for Planetshakers is the same as what the last 20 years has held. Years of radical obedience. Because if you want radical results, you need radical obedience. Planetshakers success has not been based on based on Russell Evans’ talent, or Sam Evans’ talent, or anyone’s talent; it’s been based on obeying what God says.

The Bible says He guides our steps. There are times that God has told me things that have looked like reversals, but actually they’ve been set ups. I once heard somebody say “God’s reversals are sometimes God’s rehearsals so that He can set you up for something big”. All we have to do is obey God, and He will open up doors. We don’t have to pursue our own endeavours. He will open doors.

So I just keep obeying Him, and obeying Him, and obeying Him. Every step of the way. When He said “start a conference” we did, and it became a worldwide movement. He said “start a church” we did, and now we have 14,000 people in Melbourne, we have campuses in Cape Town, Austin, Geneva, and other places starting. He said “do praise and worship” and we did, and I had no idea what would happen out of that.

So we’ll just keep following Him. And if we keep following Him, He will guide us into success. If I follow me, all that we lead into is failure. So we’ll keep following Him. And if He guides our steps, He gets the glory. And it’s all about making Jesus famous.


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Russell Evans | Founder of Planetshakers

One of the leading international communicators of this generation, Russell Evans comes from a rich multi-generational ministry heritage. In February 2004, Russell, along with wife, Sam, founded the 13,000 member Planetshakers Church. He has the rare capacity to relate equally to both younger and older generations of people due to his rich heritage and experience along with a passion for fresh music and empowerment of emerging leaders. He has committed his life to “empower generations to win generations.”

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World Perspective Day: Seeing the World Through Someone Else’s Eyes

We had the chance to connect with Angela Popplewell from 100cameras to learn more about her, her organization 100cameras, and the global "World Perspective Day" initiative. 

Watch This short video explaining the heart and vision behind World Perspective Day.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where is home, what got you interested in visual communication, story, and the non-profit sphere?

I was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida and stayed in town to attend Florida State University because, well in all candidness, it had been my 8th grade dream to be a baton twirler on the university’s highly competitive team. I truly loved Tallahassee and everything it taught me. Many parts of me had wished that I could grow old there, but my life up to that point had embraced me in such a way that I knew I needed to move forward and encounter new experiences. And so I bought a one-way ticket to NYC about a month after graduation, and ten years later with an incredible amount of life-lesson-experiences and only-in-NY moments, Brooklyn is now considered home with my amazing husband and one year old son, Teddy.

What attracted me most to joining the founding team of 100cameras was the community development empowerment piece and the opportunity to teach the importance of storytelling by giving kids the opportunity to do so worldwide. Prior to starting this model, I had worked in the community development sector in a few countries in my late teenage years and experienced the great hope for what can happen when an individual is empowered to create something that provides for themselves and others. Furthermore, I had experienced over and over again how almost anyone I met just wanted to tell me their story – to share their narratives, filled with pieces about their families, their long days of work (or why they couldn’t get work), their likes and dislikes, where they’ve been, and where they wanted to go. Every story was important and it felt as though they were sharing it with me in hopes that I would share it with someone else. It gripped me to realize that those living within a community we would often label “marginalized” or as “living in poverty” have always had these stories to tell, and they have always had voices to share them – they just perhaps haven’t had the platform to be heard outside of their concentric circles or to participate in the global narrative. This realization forever changed me. To be a part of helping teach kids young that they can provide important needs such as medical, educational, or lifeline supplies by sharing their stories through photography will always be one of the greatest honors of my life.

What were the origins and inspiration behind #WorldPerspectiveDay?

The entire mission of 100cameras is founded upon the power of perspective. We empower kids around the world with the opportunity to learn that their stories matter and to help explore their narratives in the larger context of a global world. We teach our students how to share their perspectives through photography and then sell their images, empowering them to provide much needed educational, lifeline, and medical supplies for themselves and other community members. We have completed projects across the globe and have recently launched our Snapshot Project platform that equips photographers worldwide to implement their own project with a community they care about.

World Perspective Day was inspired directly from our students as they have become our teachers in so many ways.

You see, the students we work with have all survived traumatic injustices, yet, they still seem to embrace life through the wonderment and awe that is seemingly found only through a kid's lens.

Through both writing and teaching our unique photojournalism course, our souls have been forever changed and awakened by watching kids not only embrace learning how to share their perspectives but dive into the depths of processing who they are because of all they've learned from their past and expressing their hope for who they want to be in their future.

Our students have taught us to recognize that the context of our narrative is woven into a larger thread. And that when we can each allow our perspectives to choose hope in our interactions instead of being gripped by the fears that can overwhelm or divide us, we can reach our full potential as an individual and as a human race.

We have been humbled as these students continually teach us how to embrace that their narrative isn't defined by their current circumstances or how others may define them. Instead, they choose to recognize and accept that they are a part of a larger context and their role in the bigger picture is integral. They accept that their perspective may be unique and different -- and that is not only okay, it is necessary and outstanding. This gives them great freedom to lean into the thought -- the hope -- that they can be a part of the greater good at large.

We believe in the great hope for what can happen when an individual is empowered to create something that provides hope for themselves and others. Over and over again, almost everyone we have met traveling and in the field has just wanted to tell us their story – to share their narratives, filled with pieces about their families, their long days of work (or why they couldn’t get work), their likes and dislikes, where they’d been, and where they wanted to go. Each story we have ever heard along the way in our individual journeys is important. It has felt as though the storytellers were sharing it with us in hopes that we would share it with someone else.

It gripped us early on to realize that each person on earth has always had a story to tell, and they have always had voices to share them – they just perhaps haven’t had the platform to be heard outside of their concentric circles or to participate in the global narrative.

Our team has committed to being merely a band of participants that join alongside others by bringing an opportunity to share their perspectives alongside a community of individuals. This has awakened us. This model of empowerment has not only changed our students' lives, but ours as well.

How can we all get involved on March 30?

Photography is a universal language. An image captures thoughts, emotions, and needs when words often times need assistance. With all the platforms available today online, there are many powerful and creative outlets to share an image that expresses your everyday life.

World Perspective Day seeks to be an online event that encourages people from all walks of life to see the world through another person's eyes. Using the hashtag #WorldPerspectiveDay, this moment in time will celebrate how different and how similar we are -- to honor, embrace, and foster understanding across borders. This inaugural event seeks to build a day that celebrates what it means to be human.

The images showcased online through the hashtag will become a stunning, collective narrative that portrays the diversity, complexity, and journey of the human race. The World Perspective Day platform seeks to capture a rounded worldview that embodies how each perspective can experience hope, hardship, disappointment, joy, hurt, excitement, frustration, or anger, etc through images. This day seeks to empower the beauty and strength that lies therein the eyes and hearts found behind each lens.

It will take a whole world to create this day. To join, just follow these 3 steps:

1. Post an image that represents your perspective and how you view the world.

  • Post your image(s) to Instagram, Facebook, VSCO, Twitter or another social media platform you love.
  • Write a caption that describes why that narrative means something of personal relevance and expression in your life.

2. On March 30th, tag with #WorldPerspectiveDay to join the global narrative.

  • Tagged images will automatically feed into this website’s online gallery.
  • Share online and offline with your community, and invite them to join you.

3. Then, follow the hashtag to see life through someone else’s eyes.

  • We ask each participant to commit time after World Perspective Day to scroll through the hashtag to explore posts from across the world. We ask everyone to be open to allowing the content shared to become a tool to help educate, listen, respect, and celebrate all the individual threads that compose the collective narrative.

You also lead a great organization called 100cameras that's doing some really exciting things with kids and photography, what's next for you and your team there?

100cameras is a non-profit organization based in New York City that teaches kids around the world that their stories matter and helps them explore their narratives in the larger context of a global world. We teach our students how to share their perspectives through photography and then sell their images, empowering them to provide much needed educational, lifeline, and medical supplies for themselves and other community members.

We have completed projects across the globe and have recently launched our Snapshot Project & Workshop platforms that equip photographers worldwide to implement their own project with a community they care about. Learn more at www.100cameras.org!

Follow on our social channels to hear announcement for our next big project in the Middle East along with info for our upcoming gala event in NYC this spring. And just in general for beautiful and inspiring images taken by our students worldwide.

Where online can we find you, 100cameras, and follow along on #WorldPerspectiveDay?

Find us at www.100cameras.org and @100cameras on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

Learn more about World Perspective Day and the amazing launch partners at www.worldperspectiveday.com and follow the hashtag #WorldPerspectiveDay across all social channels.

You can find me and my musings on life, community, 100cameras, adventures & city living, and lots of photos of Teddy at @angelafrancine on Twitter and Instagram


Socality Redding | Excursion

The Socality Community in California met up Saturday, March 25 in Redding for an awesome day of community and connection. Over 100 creatives met at Heritage Coffee Roasters who provided everyone with free coffee! Once we were caffeinated up, Socality Community Leader Justin Posey shared with everyone the heartbeat and mission of Socality. It’s really about people finding community with purpose!!

Everyone jumped in their cars and headed to Castle Lake only to be surprised by excess snow on the roads that caused some people to get stuck while others hiked to the top. While the weather didn’t exactly cooperate, its moments like these that last in our memory forever.

Overall, the day was a huge success and we are already planning the next gathering. You can follow  #socalityredding to see some of the photos and watch our recap video below!


Deconstructing Songwriting with Joth, Andy and BJ of Planethshakers

We recently sat down with three members of the Planetshakers band to talk about songwriting, the creative process and writing tips. Joth Hunt, BJ Pridham, and Andy Harrison walk us through specific direction from each of their own experiences. We hope this encourages emerging songwriters in this community!

1. When writing a song, can you deconstruct your process?

Joth Hunt: The process of writing a song happens in many ways for me. But one thing that is so important for me is that I am feeling it. Music has a great ability to move people. If the song I am writing is not in a place that it moves me, then I keep searching for another lyric or melody or chord till it gets to that place.

Joth Hunt

Joth Hunt

BJ Pridham: If you've boiled songwriting down to a process I'd say it's time to get back in the prayer closet. I don't think I can boil it down to specifics. I play a piano and tell God I love Him.  It's simply me and Jesus and I don't want to complicate it more than that.

Andy Harrison: For me, there isn’t really much of a process. Songs have come in a variety of ways and times. Some of them have come driving in the car - a melody “falls” into my mind and some words seem to come with them. Once I allow my mind to flow with it - I may pick up on a particular theme or flavour and begin to think of further lyrics that fit that. On these occasions songs seem to flow pretty easily.  Other times I will just get one particular phrase or section and when I try and pursue the rest of the song nothing seems to flow. Sometimes those sections just need time to develop and I will get the other parts of the song later on.  Whatever the case - once I feel like I have the song nearly complete I will show it to our team and we will see if it translates to them immediately without much explanation. If they are feeling too, then we pursue it as a team, do a demo and put some flesh on the skeleton.

 

2. How do you define a successful song?

Joth Hunt: When the song achieves the purpose for which it was written. All of our songs are written to bring God glory. So that is success. It doesn't matter how many people sing them or how many albums we sell. If God is getting the glory then that = success.

BJ Pridham: I don't really know to be honest. All I do is make myself available to Holy Spirit, put the songs together and submit them to my senior pastors. They are the best gauge on anointing and relevance for the season the church is in.

BJ Pridham

BJ Pridham

Andy Harrison: How we judge the success of a song depends on the context for which we are writing. My context within Planetshakers is to lead people corporately into an encounter with God and release what God is saying to our church and the church globally. A successful song for me is one that communicates those things simply and carries the touch of God on it when it is sung/played.

 

3. Give emerging songwriters your best 3 tips?

Joth: We end up saying the same things a lot in our songs, but try and find a NEW way of saying the same thing. try using, Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Rhyme-zone in your writing process.

Write unto the Lord for no other reason than you want to love on Him and praise Him.

BJ: Do the best with what you have. Chase the anointing by staying dependent God for everything. Submit everything you do to your pastors.

Andy: 1. Get planted in a local church and begin writing out of what God is doing there and doing in your life. 2. Encounter God regularly. We express out of our inspiration - so let our inspiration be our real-life experiences with God. 3. Write “for someone” - don’t just let your song be a personal expression - but let them be an expression on behalf of people. These are the songs people relate to and connect with - when they feel like they have put into words and song what they didn’t know how to express themselves.

Andy Harrison

Andy Harrison

4. For independent writers, how can they get their songs noticed/ published?

Joth: Doing a good demo / recording is very important. It's about how your song is packaged. Spend the time and money and getting it sounding the best it can!

BJ: I've never really chased that so I don't really know? I'm born to serve Gods people (the church) with song whether the songs get noticed by a label or not. It's not the motivating factor.  Peoples transformation in the presence of God is. I guess if you were looking for a creative outlet there's so many avenues these days with social media and youtube etc.

Joth, Andy and Sam in the studio.

Joth, Andy and Sam in the studio.

5. Do you have any personal stories about a song that you didn’t think would work but went on to have significant impact?

Joth: For me I would have to say Nothing Is Impossible. Ps Russell (founder of Planetshakers) was speaking one weekend about faith and he wanted a song for the weekend. So I sat down and came up with the song in about 20 min, literally! I had no idea this song would be sung all around the world touching many people and helping them lift their faith to believe for the "impossible".

BJ: Haha all of them. Quite literally... all of them.

Andy: To be honest, most songs I thought wouldn’t work didn’t for a reason - the melody, the lyrics, the phrasing etc… it’s important to identify what didn’t work so you can learn from it. I have more stories about songs or parts of songs that I thought were more just personal things until someone else heard it and recognized the touch of God on it.

BJ and I wrote a song called Made To Worship and it all came about because I was showing him some song ideas one morning that I wanted to pursue. He gave me some feedback and I was going to keep working on them but nothing particularly caught either of our attention. As I was about to leave, I jumped back on the keys and sung him the first few lines of what became the first verse and pre-chorus of the song. It was a last minute thought because it was an underdeveloped idea that just came from a moment of worship the night before. Immediately when I played it - he got excited and realized there was something on it. He changed a few chords on the spot and then said something along the lines of, “let me work on this… there’s something here…” and a few hours later we had the song. One idea sparked something in him/resonated with him and led to the full expression.

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Joth Hunt | Lead Vocalist and Lead Guitarist

I grew up in a very musical family. It was what I wanted to do with my life. Music. I started playing Piano, drums and guitar at the age of 7. I understood from a very early age that God had given the gift of music and I wanted to use that gift for him. As a young boy going to Planetshakers conferences I started to dream how God could use my gift to touch the earth. Starting to learn how to record music at the age of 14, i fell in love with producing music. Now here I am producing the Planetshakers albums. The dreams God put in my heart are coming to pass.

Follow Joth | Instagram | Twitter

 
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BJ Pridham | Lead Vocalist

I’m honored to be the Worship Pastor of Planetshakers Church, based in Melbourne, Australia. Blessed with a music team of a few hundred strong across four local campuses, I’m passionate about seeing people step into their God-given calling by stewarding their gifts and serving the house of God. Having the privilege to write a number of Planetshakers songs, it’s my greatest desire that people would have their own personal encounter with God and experience His presence and goodness on a deeper level.

Follow BJ | Instagram | Twitter

 

Andy Harrison | Drummer

Born in Hobart Tasmania, I grew up with a passion for drumming, starting lessons at 6 years of age and drumming in my local church band soon after. As a teenager I attended Planetshakers Conferences and it was here that I significantly encountered God – receiving a call for ministry. In 2006 I moved to Planetshakers Church, Melbourne to study at Bible College and serve in the youth and music teams. I am now the Planetshakers Drummer and Youth Pastor and have a passion and heart for worship and to see the next generation encounter Jesus.

Follow Andy on Instagram


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