Planetshakers Insider

Musings on Life, the Christian Journey and being a part of Planetshakers City Church

Planetshakers Placing Son On Stage Too Young?

with 16 comments

Received an interesting message via SMS.

Tomorrow’s Father’s Day church service at Planetshakers will feature 3 generations of the Evans family… Including Russell Evans’ eldest child, Jonathan (still primary school aged).

I wonder to myself… Is this appropriate?

Obviously it would be inappropriate to have Jonathan delivering a message, because 1 Timothy speaks against promoting novice pastors.

But is it also inappropriate to be placing the child on a pedestal alongside his revered father and grandfather?

I can’t help but think of Mike Guglielmucci, and the shame and torment that began for him at a slightly older age. Surely some of this was caused by the expectations he felt he had to live up to, as we heard that he bottled his sins up inside, put his best foot forward – while suffering horrible physical and emotional symptoms.

While every good parent (and I don’t doubt Russell Evans is a good parent) wants to build their child’s self esteem, and lift up their son and say “This is my son, in whom I am proud” – it seems unnecessary and potentially harmful…

… And yet again, it takes the focus off Jesus and places it on the Superstars of Planetshakers – in this case, the Evans Family.

Written by Planetshakers Insider

September 7, 2008 at 3:10 am

16 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Have been reading a book online at http://www.apologeticsindex.org about churches that become cults. I sincerely pray that Planetshakers and Hillsong are not going down that path.

    Kim

    September 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

  2. Umm dude, he spoke really well and straight from the word of God.. Not only was it appropriate being fathers day, but he also spoke about how to come to the father in time of need.. Awesome word!!!
    Speaking of whats appropriate, I wonder to myself if this website is appropriate?..

    Ed

    September 7, 2008 at 7:39 pm

  3. @Ed: You might want to check the time of the post – this was posted prior to the services, whereas your post was after.

    I still agree with the bible (1 Timothy) that it is inappropriate to have someone so young in a preaching position – and problematic to put children on pedestals as they need to be able to fall down and fail – and as we saw in the case of Michael Guglielmucci, if they can’t fall down and fail and be vulnerable the problem can get out of control.

    Planetshakers Insider

    September 8, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  4. One has to wonder whether the same question would be asked if this was a church of 40 or 400 rather than 4000. I hardly think that by having his son speak for a few minutes on fathers day Russell is placing him on a pedestal, you’re reading too much into the issue.

    I’m ready to agree with Ed as well, surely if you’ve got concerns about what Planetshakers are up to it’s better to talk to a pastor or your urban life leader, rather than blogging about it?

    Aaron

    September 10, 2008 at 8:38 pm

  5. @Aaron: Surely you’d agree that if Planetshakers is responsible for 4,000 souls, then it’s even MORE important that what Planetshakers does is above reproach.

    Having spoken to Urban Life leaders and a Pastor previously (on multiple occasions) might allow me to discuss things in private – but realistically they’ll listen, sometimes discuss – and that seems to be the end of things.

    I’m increasingly of the opinion it’s better to blog, be open and honest, engage in discussion and debate.

    I don’t understand why people would take umbrage with this – discussion is good. It’s how many people learn, decide, discover, choose.

    But it seems that some people believe the questions should be kept secret and private – shared only with Planetshakers leadership who are too busy to [and I say this bluntly] care less – unless it’s to silence perceived dissent, and quell percieved disunity in the church.

    Planetshakers Insider

    September 11, 2008 at 5:32 am

  6. Dude i tend to agree with all the posts that ahve been sent on here… i think its exciting to see children standing up and speaking God’s word, absolutely awesome!!
    And i think if you were truly going to be open about things you would actually at least let us know who you are instead of hiding behind a blog…

    Daniel

    September 23, 2008 at 5:56 pm

  7. Hi Daniel,

    I agree somewhat with your comment – the bible says “And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”

    But to place a child in a position of prominence, reverence and leadership at such a young age (not-yet-matured-or-wise) – to have them counseling the church in spiritual matters by delivering teachings – this is very clearly wrong according to the “minimum job requirements” God sets out for the wisdom and testing leaders in the bible.

    And surely you’d agree – it’s not about what you think, or what I think, or even Ps Russell Evans thinks – it’s about what God wants.

    I fail to recognise how putting a child on stage “just because it was fathers day” is worshipful to God, or edifies the church and brings value to a group of thousands who all need spiritual nourishment.

    It’s very nice, it shows a lovely family – but what specific spiritual value do you see in Jonathan being on stage beyond this? How is the flock being guided and nourished and kept out of harms way? How is it building God’s kingdom? How is it worshipful to God? How does it focus our eyes on Jesus (as opposed to distracting us from Jesus and showing us a portrait of the Evans family’s love for one-another)?

    This is what I was writing on – as well as specific concern for Jonathan in the light of Mike Guglielmucci’s fall.

    It must have been so hard for Mike to grow up in the shadow of his father’s spotlight… and I can’t help but wonder whether Mike (if he was out of a very public life) could have dealt with his own sexual sin more easily and felt more comfortable that he could find a soft place to confess if he wasn’t in the harsh spotlight.

    I’m all for children being Christians – and as Christians we speak-out and act-out God’s word – but surely you would agree that:

    1) Our focus should be on God, not individual people within the church;
    2) All actions at a church service should primarily have a kingdom-focus;
    3) While family is so important, during church sermons the spiritual needs of thousands of souls who you might be a leader to should come first;
    4) As we’ve seen with countless child stars, growing up in the spotlight causes development problems in young kids;
    5) All kids should be able to fall down, and get back up – without the torment and shame that they might feel if they are carrying the family name and a responsibility to do well for the sake of a church community on their shoulders

    Don’t be mistaken into thinking that I believe children speaking God’s word is a bad thing. And make sure you’re not looking for a way to answer in disagreement without thinking about the questions first.

    Planetshakers Insider

    September 24, 2008 at 3:08 am

  8. sorry but who are you to say i havent thought about the questions you’re posing?
    Not being an attendee of Planetshakers Church i cant really comment too much, except that i do feel that this is the sort of thing that would be much healthier discussed and thought out with leaders in the church as opposed to a blog like this where division can be grown…
    Anyway all the best, my comments are borne out of wanting to defend the Church cos I feel passionately about building it.. whether you think that’s too simplistic or whatever thats fine with me…

    Daniel

    September 24, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  9. 1) Our focus should be on God, not individual people within the church;
    – absolutely, but where your focus lies is surely a choice of yours??
    2) All actions at a church service should primarily have a kingdom-focus;
    – again i totally agree, why do you say that this doesnt have a kingdom focus?
    3) While family is so important, during church sermons the spiritual needs of thousands of souls who you might be a leader to should come first;
    – totally agree- i’m curious to hear how you think this is showing a different priority in this area?
    4) As we’ve seen with countless child stars, growing up in the spotlight causes development problems in young kids;
    – how can you call ps Russell’s son a “child star” when he has been given an opportunity to speak in a church… to me i would then question where your focus lies? Like i would have never thought that simply speaking in front of a church makes you a “star”??
    5) All kids should be able to fall down, and get back up – without the torment and shame that they might feel if they are carrying the family name and a responsibility to do well for the sake of a church community on their shoulders
    – I dont see how this is placing a burden on his shoulders?

    Daniel

    September 24, 2008 at 6:14 pm

  10. @Daniel – Thanks for your messages.

    When you commented that it was exciting to see children standing up and speaking God’s word, given this wasn’t an issue raised in my post, it seemed you had decided what you believed without giving any key points much thought.

    “absolutely, but where your focus lies is surely a choice of yours”

    Yes, we have choice. But the bible tells us that church leaders should be “blameless” – and therefore the church be “blameless” and should be lead the flock in a “blameless”, excellent manner.

    If the church is falling short, this becomes an issue.

    Church leaders have a responsibility to lead – by their words, actions and example.

    If the church leaders are hearing people screaming loudest when Reggie Dabbs, Glen Berteau, Russell Evans, Ben Fewster or some other man appears on City News (as opposed to when Jesus is mentioned) – the church leaders need to encourage people to look to Jesus instead of man.

    If people are hurt and disappointed as a result of Mike Guglielmucci’s fraud, church leaders need to encourage people to look to Jesus and not to man.

    There’s a personal responsibility that we all must have.

    But at the same time, church leaders are like shepherds – they MUST guide their flock.

    “again i totally agree, why do you say that this doesnt have a kingdom focus?”

    When I said “All actions at a church service should primarily have a kingdom-focus;” it as a general point that the church should be focussed on the kingdom.

    However, in this specific example – why put Jonathan Evans on stage at all? What kingdom purpose does placing him on stage serve? Could that purpose have been served better by someone better trained, more skilled, wiser and more respected within the church community?

    “totally agree- i’m curious to hear how you think this is showing a different priority in this area?”

    Ps Russell likes his football analogies, and I’m going to use one myself…

    Saving souls, and ensuring spirtual needs of existing Christians are met – this is the AFL Grand Final.

    There are no second chances.

    It’s the highest of pinnacles, the most important thing.

    That’s why you put your best players on the field – the people God has annointed, lifted up and called to this position – the people who can do it the best.

    So when it comes to the Grand Final, the most important match of the season (because saving souls, and keeping the flock nourished are the most important roles in God’s kingdom), why would we put a player from a junior division on the into the game?

    “how can you call ps Russell’s son a “child star” when he has been given an opportunity to speak in a church… to me i would then question where your focus lies? Like i would have never thought that simply speaking in front of a church makes you a “star”??”

    Put simply – he was put on a pedestal, promoted in Planetshakers promotions for that service, and held up as a featured speaker (a feature, a drawcard) of that service.

    He was on the playbill. He was a keynote. He was a star – just like Ps Russell Evans is held up as a star, Glen Berteau, Sam Evans, Reggie Dabbs, John Bevere, Reinhardt Bonke and everyone else who not only takes that stage, but gets promoted and held up and placed on a pedestal before, during or after taking that stage.

    “I dont see how this is placing a burden on his shoulders?”

    Have you ever had to live up to those expectations? I did for part of my life.

    When someone gets placed on a pedestal, it’s difficult for them to come back down. You can’t fall all the way in humility.

    Planetshakers Insider

    September 24, 2008 at 11:06 pm

  11. fair question but totally appropriate. Showing three generations up on stage seems like a great way to symbolize it to me.
    Speaking? That’s a bit ‘ish’, but I’m sure they thoroughly vetted what the child was going to say first. If that was in place, I don’t see why not.

    Ben

    October 1, 2008 at 8:05 am

  12. Hey PI,

    Man first of all, your blog is an alright read man… I like how you use the word of God to highlight your points, but as I read your writings I feel a hint of unforgiveness… take it how you want but I just thought to share that with you…

    Im not the smartest guy in the world… Maybe I am but I doubt it… but I wanted to share about how you don’t think that there was a Kingdom purpose in having Jonathan on the stage… I say that the purpose was not Jonathan being on the stage but the message that Jonathan carried… I know you know that God uses people to bring His word, but sometimes I think that people spend too much time worrying about the method that is being used and not taking in the message that is being delivered… How old was Jesus when he first started preaching? Was he invited to speak?

    Also, I can’t say much about Mike but that I hope that he recovers… heres a topic for you to blog on “How (if ever) would God use Mike after this?”

    Also, I kinda agree with some of the people questioning whether or not this is a good way to “air YOUR feelings/thoughts” cause it may be good for some (you included)… but for others it may cause them to fall… is this something you’re willing to live with PI?? If so, cool.

    Oh yeah, you said that you have caught up with the church leadership “on a number of occasions”, I’d like to know if you were “open and honest” with them and if you “engaged in discussion and debate” or do you just blog what you think and believe? I guess what I really want to know is do they know you are the PLANETSHAKER INSIDER???

    random

    October 30, 2008 at 10:29 pm

  13. I wonder why God used a donkey to speak for Him? If you don’t proclaim the word of God, your children will or the stones will cry out. There’s no age restriction for God. It’s all man made.

    Jeff

    July 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm

  14. good point why the evans family,

    different if all the planetkids had a turn randomly on the stage that would be so great.

    pshaker

    March 29, 2010 at 8:16 pm

  15. Hey PS insider,

    You’re only trying to create controversy in every single one of your posts. I’ll pray for you pal, it seems like you need it.

    EhyphenL

    October 17, 2011 at 9:44 pm

  16. Yes I was too young but I rocked it!
    Look at me now!

    Jonathan Freakin Evans

    November 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: