Housefires Q+A Part 2

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

Q. So how have you trained your church in this culture? And is it something that you intentionally teach on and push?

Pat. So when we first started a baby step would be that we’d lead Spirit Break Out and at the end of that song, the principle is that the song isn’t done when the song is done. If we hit the last note and you’re already going to the click to go to the next song you’ve violated the value that we don’t know what is going to happen next. So this takes time and it takes a level of musicianship where, someone doesn’t seize up when you go off the map a little bit. What we would do is get to the end of the song and just wait, let the space happen. Without any pressure for something to happen, without being disappointed if some amazing, prophetic spontaneous song doesn’t happen. What is healthy is to create space for the ‘what if’.

Nate. I think I just always want to err on the side of leaving space, some intentional room for God to move. So there are certain things that God will just surprise us with, or breathe on and we can always make room for how God wants to move in the moment. And what we’ve said a lot in the band is about just valuing moments. Doing whatever we can to bend our setlist or what we’d planned to how God’s moving and how he’s speaking into things. It’s taking risk and that’s not comfortable and sometimes you have to get uncomfortable to really see God move. Spontaneity is a risk and Pat jokes a lot about it but there’s certainly times where we’ve taken a step out and it goes nowhere, it just tanks. And there are all these things we could process afterwards like did I fail? Was I off? God were you not pleased? All these things that we try to attach to that but I think that God is so delighted when we take a step out to follow him and risk it.

Q. How has all of this influenced your song writing?

Kirby. For me I think about the element of people being involved in it. That’s why crafting a song out of a moment is so powerful, because you know that moment worked, and by worked I mean it resonated deeply with people so they wouldn’t stop singing it after the moment was over. You’re like, ‘Shhh, I have something else I want to prophetically sing, I wish you would just stop singing that over and over.’ But that’s actually a good sign, because it means it resonates and they want to keep singing it and if it’s something they want to sing then maybe you should write about it and continue singing that song. So the element of people is the biggest thing for me. I always want to include the third person, the crowd, the receivers. So a lot of our new songs, we do at church, we do at our worship nights and we try them out. And half the time they become different songs. A month later when they come out on a record we’ll get somebody coming up to us saying ‘Oh I liked it the first way you did it at the worship night, that one time when it was in 6/8 and not in 4/4, it was so much better!’ But trying it out on people, I think that’s just so great and that’s how this song is going to be whatever it becomes. It all happens because people grab a hold to it or not.

Pat. I would also add to that, it’s really helped me become aware of the things that in the moment like stop me and move me. So you’ll watch a movie and a phrase will make you feel something. When that happens I would really encourage everyone to pay attention to that feeling. It’s like when Mary is pregnant with Jesus and she meets Elizabeth and John kicks in her belly. When you feel the baby kick, something just moved. Without being super weird about it, just take note: that part of that film moved me when she came in and said that thing that way.

Pat. You’ve seen the same scripture a thousand times and then you’re at a wedding and it makes sense right? Or you lose a job and it makes sense. And it’s not that it didn’t before but it connects differently now because of the experience that you’ve had. So I would really encourage in songwriting, follow what moves you. And it doesn’t have to be a calculated thing because emotions and inspiration is not always calculated. When my daughter runs up the other day she went spinning into the room with her ballerina outfit and I teared up, it’s not that I haven’t seen her in that outfit a thousand times it’s just I wasn’t expecting it and in the moment I was just like I don’t need anything else, I’m deeply content watching my daughter dance right now. And it moved me. And I still think about it, it’s affected me that much so when you take those types of things and you hear a melody that captures you, or a lyric that does something different I would trust that feeling and not be too quick to deviate from it.

Q. How do you guys get other people leading in like house churches and also on a bigger scale? How do you guys encourage that? And encourage people to flourish?

Pat. So when we say there’s 70+ house churches it sounds extremely organised but the form is it’s like you have people in the room who love each other, share life together, when a tragedy happens those are the people I go to, if someone gets a promotion or a job those are the people who celebrate. Worship in that place is highly encouraged as we’re not going to come do it for you. That’s part of the ownership of it. Someone says, ‘we really think this church needs to have a ... ministry’, that’s great do it! Be the person that starts that thing. If God has put this on your heart then I think he’s put it there for a reason. It might not be the most musically excellent thing but it will be a step of faith and a beautiful sign in the community. Yeah John doesn’t lead on Sundays but you know he leads our house church and we print out the little sheets so we all have the lyrics, it all feels a little dated, it’s not cool, that’s not the point. It’s real.

Q. How do you cultivate that space where your congregation actually engages with it and doesn’t just stare at you like, what are we doing? How you cultivate that culture that says this is a safe space and just wait?

Nate. I think that’s when it’s most important to pastor your congregation and for the worship leader to speak into why this is important biblically. You know, this is why we raise our hands, this is why we shout unto God, this is why the psalmists did this, I think it’s important to just give a little fly-by teaching, not that you have to teach a whole sermon. I try and insert that stuff into setlists all the time, even if it’s just twenty / thirty seconds ‘cause I’ve led in plenty of congregations where it’s not the culture to leave more extended space and I think it helps people. They feel safe and they think ok, this makes more sense and I feel I can go there with you. So I think that’s where the pastoral side of leading worship comes into play.

Pat. And some things are awkward in the space because it’s new. If you are uncomfortable with the space you have to be the one who can sit there the longest and get used to the feeling where that’s not awkward anymore. Another one of the values that we have is don’t take yourself too seriously but be serious about the gifting that God’s put on your life. So ‘Oh man, that got really awkward didn’t it?’ And we just laugh about it. If someone shanks a note, we laugh and it’s great ‘cause it’s funny. When it’s awkward too long we’re just kind of like, man this is awkward and we laugh ‘cause it’s funny and it allows the freedom of getting familiar with the new that’s happening and not dismissing it just because it’s different. I thought skinny jeans would never catch on and now I’m killing it! (I’m just kidding.) And there’s a newness that is worth waiting for, don’t let somebody miss out on it just because they’re not used to it. Some taste is acquired.