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.