Housefires Q+A Part 1

We sat down with Pat, Nate and Kirby from Housefires at The Gathering 2017 to chat about spontaneity in worship, leading in a house church culture and songwriting. This is Part 1 of our Q+A, come back from Part 2 next week...


Q. What have you been doing the last couple of weeks? What have you been seeing in the church around the UK?

Nate: Before this conference we did three nights of worship, it’s so fun. I think one thing I loved was that every night was so unique. There’s always different moments that happen because we worship the living God. What I saw was that there’s so much hunger in the church here and God is attracted to hunger. Man there were just so many powerful moments of God speaking. Every night just felt like real ministry which we love.

Q. Tell us where you guys were as a church and how you’ve moved into what you’re doing now.

Pat: We are part of a church in Atlanta. Part of the culture that we’ve always had has been songwriting and creativity and we wanted to lead and sing things that God was specifically doing in us personally and in our community. We have Sunday gatherings and then we have house churches that meet throughout the week. And in that, you don’t have clean transitions between songs. No one cares about transitions when you’re in a living room with B.Y.O. djembe. Worship in that space is like… you sit in moments. I mean you’ve just had dinner with people, they’re in your life, and you sing.

Some songs we sang in our house church when my wife and I went through a miscarriage. We sang those songs prophetically, they were sung over my family. So you have songs that have grown from experiences like that, the good, the bad, like all of it. When you share those songs you don’t feel like there’s pressure on them, it almost doesn’t even matter if you connect. If someone else connects with something in the same way it did with you is not really the point. The point is that it helped you be more open to God and if it was just for that, it’s enough. And then if songs go beyond you then that’s just some mysterious blessing from God that you get to be a part of.

When we started sharing those songs it was because they’d impacted our community, our lives, our relationships and our own walks with the Spirit and we were just blown away. That we’re even here right now is like, crazy. You guys know this, you’re leaders, you write songs. When you lead people and your gifting goes far beyond you, like that’s the best.

Q. How has what was birthed in those lounge gatherings been translated into bigger gatherings?

Kirby: So I think what Pat said is really great, that if you can help people be more open to God that’s the goal and the point. And if you can do that in a small space, you can absolutely do that in the large space. As long as you keep the goal the same, you realise that there’s no difference in the size of the room.

A couple of years ago I was having this season in my life when I was really just asking the Lord to make my leadership better. I was having coffee with a girl and she was just having this hard time. It was just this amazing conversation and by the end of it I’d helped her to remember who she was and remember who God was. And that’s all we really do on Sunday, we’re just having coffee with a couple of hundred people at a time instead of one.

The Lord spoke to me about that very thing, he said ‘You keep begging me to give you all these leadership skills like some anointing that I’m going to plop down on you but what you just did is exactly what you should do on Sunday’. Having a conversation with one person is how you have a conversation with thousands. Help them get out of their head, remember who they are and remember who I am. That’s the only thing we’re doing here. That simplification of the goal really lets the things that don’t matter settle down. The things that could become idols, they’re not anymore, the things that can trip you up and knock you down and make you insecure, they don’t matter anymore. The ministry matters, it’s more than just leading songs, it’s facilitating openness.

Q. And this is really evident when you guys lead, you really connect with the room on a what feels like a personal level. How have you got to that place? There’ll be people here who are trying to move beyond the setlist, move beyond just planning centre, is it just practice or how have you developed that?

Kirby: I’m just going to be real practical. In some ways it is just practice and we have to give ourselves permission to imitate for a while and then innovate. Sometimes you just need to get really good at something and if that means you have to do it someone else’s way for a little bit that’s fine as long as you do become who you are and own your specific gifting as well.

But there is a really amazing thing about simple songs: do the keys that you know, do the songs that you know and do them really well and do them to where you can focus on what the Lord’s doing. Then you can get out if the technical part of your brain and into the what’s going on the room part and this is the second thing. What’s really helpful is not compartmentalising your non-spiritual life versus your spiritual life. Let your experiences inform how you lead. So when Pat talks about his kids that’s because it’s his actual life. If it’s real then people can grab a hold of it.

Pat: I think what I have grown to appreciate is that relationships by nature are dynamic, I mean you don’t know what I’m about to say, that’s why humour is unbelievable, that’s why it’s funny when someone like goes off script because that is real life. Your life is not facilitated by planning centre. At minute three you do not transition to lunch right? The best parts of life are not always the polished presentable ones and the moment that we’re in right now is not less holy than when we start to sing.

We’re not just presenting songs, we’re all experiencing life and God together and the more you do that with people the more you get over the fear of ‘If I say the wrong thing God’s going to stop moving’. I say the wrong thing all the time. In normal life we don’t have that same expectation. I’m not saying be careless but I am saying when you think that someone’s giving you their real life there’s spontaneity and dynamicness in that. We’re singing to God, God’s singing to us and we don’t know what’s going to happen next. When we’re reminded of that I think songs and culture starts to bloom in a different way and it doesn’t happen right away, it usually comes as a seed.

We want things given to us that God wants grown in us and there’s a huge difference between a gift and a fruit. You can always just obliterate someone with your gifting, oh yeah I’m amazing! But fruit is actually grown and cultivated and those plants are pruned.