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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”