“Kingdom work is always about the King, and never about the work.”
It’s with that “always-about-the-King” vision that OCC grad Eric Epperson directs Christ In Youth’s Move conferences for high schoolers. Last year, CIY Move reached 30,000 high school students in 31 conferences nationwide, and CIY as a whole ministered to 75,000 pre-teen through college students in all its conferences and trips. Epperson is a storyteller at heart, and as Move’s program director, he leads his team to create memorable moments to call students to kingdom work.
Eric’s own story began in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where kingdom worker seeds were planted by Boulevard Christian Church.
“Mentors shaped me and showed me what globally-minded ministry should look like,” he says. “Boulevard allowed me to be myself in the context of kingdom work, and gave me the space to discover some creative talents.”
The ministers at Boulevard were Ozark grads, and thanks to their influence, Eric followed in their footsteps. He graduated with a Bachelor of Biblical Literature and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Oklahoma. Eric also studied writing and improvisational comedy at Second City in Chicago, and founded the comedy company, Siblings Improv, in Joplin. Eric and his wife, Torrie, who teaches Environmental Science at OCC, have two young daughters, Alice and Wren.
The End Goal
Christ In Youth is known for cutting-edge technology—for excellent video and stage production, and for making everything from an indoor snowstorm to a phone-based devotional series. But, as Eric says, technology isn’t the point.
“Being authentic comes before being technologically advanced,” he says. “Technology isn’t the end goal. The goal is the story—the message that the technology communicates.”
“Technology bows a knee to the story,” Eric continues, “and if the programming moment doesn’t call for whatever creative or expensive idea we created, we cut it. Oscar Wilde told writers to ‘kill their darlings’ and cut out that idea they loved that didn’t fit the story. We need to do the same when it comes to technology in churches. As an audience member, I don’t need you to impress me; I need you to move me.”
And the story of the gospel does exactly that: move us.
The ‘Just One’ Lie
That authentic gospel message is best told by authentic people—by people partnering together for the sake of the Kingdom. Of his CIY co-workers, Eric says, “I’ve seen Drew Crisp create life-altering moments with the junk he has lying around in his garage. Jon Hill, who is the smartest person in the room in most of the rooms he’s in, can make anything and bring any idea to life. Jayson French had a vision for how film could play a role in communicating to students. He assembled a team of earnest storytellers and competent technicians to bring stories of justice and hope from around the world to CIY events and churches. Since then, we’ve told stories about human trafficking in Cambodia, persecution in Iraq, foster care in NYC, and sexual assault in Guatemala. What makes these films come to life isn’t just the gear. It’s the collaborative effort.”
“This campaign, ‘Just One,’” Eric adds, “—it’s a lie. It’s never just one.”
And, kingdom work is never about the work. For authentic servant leaders like Eric Epperson, kingdom work is always about the King.