Evangelism & Empowering Peacemakers

Jarrod McKenna Empowering PeacemakersEmpowering Peacemakers


Guest in the backyard: Jarrod McKenna

Can we separate living the gospel from sharing it? Evangelism from the invitation to follow Jesus?

Last night I arrived back from a country tour with ‘Empowering Peacemakers’ (or EPYC) inviting High School students to forsake lives wasteful consumption and dare lose their themselves in lives of compassion on behalf of Jesus’ message for the poor and the earth.

I’m always amazed (!) at the responses.

Yesterday I was ambushed by students wanting to give me hugs (a bit awkward), ask for Bible’s (not something we offer just something they wanted after exploring Scripture in the workshop!!), committed themselves to the FACE UP TO POVERTY campaign and gave up their lunch time to talk about Jesus, their lives, their concerns about the world and the gospel.

-What’s EPYC’s secret that has kids that aren’t Christians queuing up to talk about Jesus after workshops?

-Why is it that young people run up wanting to give hugs and share their stories?

-Why is it that students (who aren’t Christians) ask for copies of the Bible and want to start social justice groups in their schools when many youth pastors have talked to me about difficulties in getting their church youth groups into the Scriptures and moving their focus off themselves!?

-And how is it that EPYC gets asked back into public state schools?

worshopping God's revolution

Some thoughts:

1. The Means is the Message

EPYC believes only way to share ‘Jesus is the Way’ is to do it in ‘the Way of Jesus’. The Early Christians where known as ‘people of the Way’ because they were filled with the Spirit to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). Their is no point teaching the texture of the kingdom (nonviolence) if you are going to go about it in forceful ways (the ways of the fallen world).

2. The Medium is the Message

EPYC is committed to embodiment. Young people can feel when people really are living an alternative or if they are just talking a good game. ‘Bait and switch’ has nothing on ’embody and let them ask’ (read 1 Peter 4:15 in the context of verse 8-14 teaching on nonviolence). In sharing personal stories of the empowerment of God’s grace to live as signs of what God has done in Jesus and giving power over to young people to ask questions in the setting of their and our worlds biggest problems

3. The Message is the Message

EPYC believes the gospel is just that… good news! 🙂 EPYC actively resists watering down the gospel, tickling ears, shying away from the demands of discipleship, bending the knee to Principalities and Powers who avoid preaching Christ crucified. In EPYC workshops we trust Scripture has a power beyond our cheap four step summations of the Bible. EPYC don’t hide students from the Bible but openly explores solid exegesis of Biblical texts with students that aren’t Christian trusting that God’s Spirit is at work drawing us to all truth and that Jesus really is good news for all that our world is going through.

4. “History belongs to the Intercessors” (sorry it didn’t start with ‘M’)

EPYC believes, as Walter Wink puts it, “History Belongs to the Intercessors”. We can do solid exegesis and prepare a good workshop but if it hasn’t been covered in solid prayer it isn’t going to have the effects it could have and I’m not going to be in a space where I’m sensitive to what the Spirit is doing.

As Scott McKnight put about EPYC on his blog he resonates deeply with “evangelism programs that invite people to experiment with the way of Christ as a way of coming to Christ.”

After all can we separate living the gospel from sharing it? Evangelism from the invitation to follow Jesus?

Thanks to all those who continue to hold EPYC in prayer.

13 thoughts on “Evangelism & Empowering Peacemakers

  1. I have observed and arranged Jarrod to come and speak to students at my high school, and i am continually impressed. The students do not always agree with everything Jarrod has to say, but he does evoke them to have reactions and to consider the choices that they make and the effects they have on others.

    Jarrod passionately shares a message of peace and justice, and shares them from the persective of Jesus. I feel confident that society today who are resistant to religion are still magnatised to Jesus and his teachings.

    The students remember and discuss Jarrod and his teachings for years to come.

  2. Pingback: Christian Nonviolence & the next gen « Peace Interactive

  3. Excellent Jarrod – just goes to show I guess that Jesus really is the desire of the nations. I’d be interested when I come home to Oz in Nov in coming with you to see it in action. Any chance?

  4. Pingback: EPYC | The Krow 2.0

  5. Great to have your thoughts on here Jarrod!

    I appreciate the way you make us think and chew thru the faith issues in some different ways.

    Onya mate!

  6. Jarrod came to my school as part of the activities that occurred in the Middle School for Harmony Day on March 21st of this year.

    Jarrod facilitated 3 one hour workshops with groups of approximately 50 students each workshop. Jarrod discussed some of the great peacemakers throughout history from different races, nationalities, and religions including Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, etc. He encouraged the students to think about how we can be active peacemakers in our day to day lives. Jarrod presented the group with scenarios and asked students whether they thought certain situations were violent or non-violent and why. One particular situation helped students think about how they can sometimes be complicit in violence without actually performing the actions, such as witnessing and not doing anything about bullying incidents. Jarrod encouraged students to consider non-violence as the third and better option of the two traditional responses to violence – fight and flight. Jarrod also expressed that he was not trying to get the students to think like him, he was only trying to get the students to think.

    The feedback received from teachers and students was overwhelmingly good. One teacher simply said that it was fantastic while another said, “At the end of the day… a lot of them (students) said it was the talk that was really good… there were kids talking about how emotional they got at some of the stories. It was great. I personally think the topics that were touched on were relevant to the kids’ age.” One of the Co-coordinators of the Harmony Day activities said, “All the kids I have spoken to about it were very positive. I was really taken with that young girl saying to Jarrod that she was inspired by him. That small thing makes the whole day worthwhile for me.”

    I personally feel that EPYC was a perfect addition to our Harmony Day activities. Jarrod has a way of respectfully engaging even the most difficult students. His thoughtful interactions with the students shows that he is both genuine and passionate. We hope to have him back at the school next year.

  7. G’day Jarrod. I was passed onto this site after a conversation with Dale Hess. I live in Doveton, Melbourne and was wanting to do some non-violence training in local schools through Justice and Peace Initiatives Inc. It sounds like the stuff you’re doing is similiar to what we want to do! Do you have any useful resources that you can pass on or any ideas of how to start up?

    My email addy is trollyed_17@hotmail.com

    Peace! Sarah

  8. G’day Sarah,

    I find the New Testament a good resource 😉

    No worries mate, happy to help you out any way I can.

    Thanks for all that your doing in witnessing to the Reign of justice, peace and joy in the Spirit.

  9. Jarrod came and ran EPYC on our year 10 camp at LJBC. It was an amazing time for our students to connect with the gospel story in a way that was very new to them. AS a result of hearing Jarred myself for the first time I thought, I would like to hear this guy again. I approached him to come and share at our evening service some months after the camp. I also knew that there where many students who would relish the chance to hear him again. It was an amazing night our usually service of around 120 students swelled to over 200. Many of those students were not regular church attenders and some responded and are still involved in our church while everyone left challenged.

    Since that time we have had Jarred back on several occasions and has always left our young people challenged, intrigued and wanting more.

    If you are involved with young people and can link up with Jarrod and EYPC in schools, Do it. It created a wonderful synergy that has continued in our youth ministry to this day.

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