Interview With Russell Evans: Speak the Language of Where People Are

Picture of Russell Evans, the founder and senior pastor of Planetshakers Church Church and Ministries
Picture of Russell Evans, the founder and senior pastor of Planetshakers Church Church and Ministries (photo: Planetshakers Church)
By Katherine GuoJuly 3rd, 2024

Editor's note: After the Amsterdam 2023 conference in June 2023, Empowered21, the worldwide relational network to mobilize churches and leaders to fulfill the Great Commission by 2033, will hold a three-day large-scale conference in Indonesia, named EveryOneAsia 2024, on July 3-5. As one of the speakers, Russell Evans, the founder and senior pastor of Planetshakers Church and Ministries, Australia, shares his insights about the incoming conference, Asian churches, and reaching the next generation. 

China Christian Daily: Could you introduce yourself and your ministry?

Russell Evans: I am the founder and senior pastor of Planetshakers Church and Ministries. We have churches in Melbourne, Singapore, Cape Town, and Papua New Guinea. We're from the Australian Christian Churches, which are associated with the Assemblies of God. Most people know us for our music because it is sung in a lot of churches, and we do conferences and concerts all over the world.

China Christian Daily: We know you are one of the speakers at EveryOneAsia 2024. What are you going to talk about at this conference?

Russell Evans: There are many speakers from all parts of the earth, and each person will bring a different part of what they feel God is saying for the body of Christ. It'll mostly encourage people to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Out of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, you'd make a difference in your world, bringing spiritual needs, physical needs, or social needs to people and being a part of the answer to society. My speaking will generally revolve around being empowered by the Holy Spirit. What does a spirit-empowered person look like? And how do I use the presence of Jesus to reach people? 

China Christian Daily: How do you see this event impacting the church in Asia? What key message do you hope the participant will leave?

Russell Evans: Empowered21 holds conferences on different continents, and the gathering hosted in Indonesia this year is about everyone having a genuine encounter with God. We want to inspire people to bring the love of Jesus to everyone they meet and also to know that they're part of a global church that is powerful and touching the world.

The Bible says that's when you receive the power to be my witnesses. So out of the power of God and the encounter with the Holy Spirit, people can be witnesses of God, give power to people they know, help people, and love people.

China Christian Daily: How do you think the churches in Asia can get support not just from this conference but also beyond this conference?

Russell Evans: I think support comes from relationships, and the kingdom of God is all about relationships. One of the great things about this conference is that it shows that people aren't alone, and they're not isolated in their own country or their own world, but there's a whole heap of people. I heard a statistic that there are about 800 million spirit-empowered believers in the world right now. This conference brings the body of Christ together to say, Hey, we love each other, we're brothers and sisters, and how can we care for and support one another?

China Christian Daily: What are the biggest challenges you see for the churches in Asia over the next few decades? What kind of opportunities do you believe are most promising?

Russell Evans: Asia is a big continent, and each nation has different challenges. Some have resource challenges, some are well equipped with resources, some have many churches, and some have few churches. I think one of the challenges is that if you're in a place that's being blessed in many ways, you've got to make sure that you use that blessing to help others. In other places that feel isolated, you've got to reach out and be part of the community.

South Korea is a Christianity-dominated country, and one of its challenges is reaching the next generation. They've had a move of God in one generation, but how do they reach the next generation? Singapore has so many large churches and large ministries, but how do they work together and become effective together? In a country where there are hardly any Christians, the challenge might be how they reach people with the love of Jesus. So there are different challenges in each country, and all need wisdom from God and dependence on the Holy Spirit.

China Christian Daily: You mentioned raising the next generation. What kind of advice would you give to young Christian leaders in China?

Russell Evans: Jesus did two things when he was reaching whoever was reaching. He spoke their language. In other words, when he was speaking to fishermen, he spoke about fish. When speaking to tax collectors, he spoke about money. We can speak a language that no one understands because it's very Christian in its language, but not everyone understands the culture. So I would say to speak the language of this generation.

When Daniel was in Babylonia, he spoke Babylonian and understood the culture. So one of the key things in reaching the next generation is understanding the culture you're reaching. Speak in the language they do understand. Young people are more of a digital generation, and you need to speak where they're at. That's what Jesus did really well.

Jesus also had power. He brought about change when people were sick. He prayed for the sick, and they recovered. When people need breakthroughs and healing, you have the power to deal with their needs. I think the power of Jesus that's in your life gives you the ability to minister to people's needs, but we've got to make sure we speak where they're out.

China Christian Daily: Many church leaders who are in charge of churches in China are from the older generation; some of them are trying to speak the language of the younger generation, and some are not aware of that. Do you have any suggestions for them to lead the younger generation?

Russell Evans: I think how generations work together is always to honor what you value. If I want to reach young people while I'm older, I need to honor what they are listening to. For example, let's take praise and worship. About 20 or 30 years ago, praise and worship sounded different than they do now for the next generation. So instead of saying, This is how I've always done it, say, What's the best way to reach the next generation? What are they listening to? What's their need? I need to change my approach to reach them because of what they're listening to. I need to speak to them at that level.

The same is true for young people; they need to honor the previous generation. Don't say we've got all the answers, but learn from the older people. So it's honoring generations.

China Christian Daily: Since you're from Australia, can you share with us the overall picture of the church in Australia?

Russell Evans: Australia is very multicultural. My church alone has people from over 150 nations. I believe that reflects the nations coming together and what heaven will be like. It shows what people from different nations can do together to make a difference in churches. 

There's a lot of need in Australia. The cost of living is a big issue in Australia right now, and people are doing it a lot tougher than they have previously. Our feeding program in Australia just provided the equivalent of three million meals over the last three years to people. Also, there's a lot of prosperity in Australia. People are at different levels, so the church can range from large churches to small churches, from house churches to corporate gatherings of churches, all meeting people's different needs at different places.

Australia has become a very secular nation. Even though its roots are Christian, it's become quite secular in how it operates. So there is a lot of work to do in Australia to bring the love of Jesus to people.

China Christian Daily: We know that your church does a very successful job of church planting. Can you introduce to us the strategies of church planting and evangelism from your experience?

Russell Evans: Again, our whole thing is that we want to speak the language of the people we're reaching. Out of that, we want people to encounter the presence of God, whether that's done through worship, prayer, or preaching. We want people to encounter God because when you encounter God, that's when you change and become disciples of Jesus.

What I will always plan a church with is music, preaching, and a kids program to start, then add a youth program and a university program, but those would be the three things that I would start with to reach where we go.

When I was 17 or 18, I ran a small group in our youth ministry, which was built on praise and worship because I'm a musician. I think music is really important for reaching generations because it can cut across generational barriers. I also do discipleship. Planetshaker's church is a bigger version of the small group that I ran as an 18-year-old. In His presence, He designed a blueprint for me and for what I'm supposed to do.

God hasn't called you to be a church that copies; you're called to be original. You're there to get an impartation from other people, but you need to get the keys for your city, your community, and yourself, and you can only get that in God's presence. I would encourage people to get in the presence of God and ask Him for the keys to their local area. Then get around people who have done what you feel God has shown you to do and ask God to let there be an impartation from what they carry so that you can enlarge yourself to do more, and then just be obedient to what God has for you.

China Christian Daily: In your opinion, how can the global church work together to fulfill the Great Commission?

Russell Evans: It’s about each church running for what God's called them to do and honoring what God is calling others to do.

The nation of Israel has 12 tribes; they all had different functions, but it was all to serve the community. It's not saying, Let's drop everything we're doing and do one thing, but let's do all that we're doing and honor each other so that we can be a force together.

There are people who have gifts that I don't have. That's why the Bible says each joint supplies. If I'm connected, the blessing that you carry or the ministry you carry is a blessing to me, and vice versa. God gives you your uniqueness and other ministries' uniqueness to complement one another, not to be isolated from one another.

China Christian Daily: Everyone Asia 2024 is a meeting mainly for churches belonging to the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, and you are part of that. How do you see your identity and the relationship of this group to the rest of Christianity?

Russel Evans: I think everyone's invited, and there are no requirements for your denomination. I think that the beauty of Dr. Billy Wilson and Empowered21 is that they have a heart for the body of Christ, not just for the Pentecostal/Charismatic Church. 

How can we bring everyone in together for the things that we can unite over? That's Jesus, what Jesus has done on earth, his resurrection, and his life. The body of Christ generally is orthodox in its beliefs, and other people place an emphasis on different parts of that. We celebrate all of them.

There is the Pentecostal charismatic part of the body, but that's not the only Christian on planet Earth. We celebrate the whole body and what God is doing through them because He gives each person a unique encounter. We're just excited to have a vision to change the world, and we're not the only ones, as the whole church should have that vision, and it does.

China Christian Daily: Do you have any words for Christians and churches in China?

Russell Evans: We are inspired by the church in China. We would just want our brothers and sisters in China to know that they are greatly loved, prayed for a lot, and that there are a lot of tears for them. We're also inspired by their faith. As much as China might look out and see what other people are doing, the world is looking at how the church in China is and is inspired by that.

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