Phil Pringle and his youngest son, Joe sit down with City News on music, what they love (and don’t) about each other and the importance of healthy living.
Most of the congregation at City Harvest Church know Phil Pringle as CHC’s advisory pastor and founder of C3 Church in Sydney, Australia.
Fewer know him as father to three grown children, Rebekah, Daniel and Joseph. Joseph—or Joe to most—is now 30 and he was in Singapore last weekend with his father, ministering to the congregation in a short time of praise and worship.
Father and son share candidly with us here about the Pringle family music background (Pringle’s wife, Chris, recorded several CCM albums and toured the UK in the mid 80s; Daniel and wife Leah run a music production company, Dreamlab in Los Angeles, which has collaborated with singers including Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez) and their relationship with each other, among others.
Pastor Phil, you were the original Pringle singer/songwriter, with your song “Binding The Strongman”. Did you have anything to do with Joe becoming a musician?
PP: Well, I am his father (laughs). Yeah, I think our whole family [is musical]. Chris, my wife—she was a singer right from her early days, and she produced one of the first Christian rock albums in Australia. I had a band when I was a kid; not that it lasted long! Rebekah my eldest daughter used to sing, Daniel [my middle child] was writing and recording songs since young; he had a band as well. And then Joe came along and followed in the footsteps. I think the environment was just very musical. Our home always had a lot of music.
And Joe, how did you get into what you’re doing now?
JP: I quit my job at church and I moved to Los Angeles. My brother works as a producer-songwriter along with his wife there, so I went to work with him on several projects around two and half to three years ago. I think the major thing was leaving the city I grew up in, Sydney—it took a lot of faith, a lot of courage, but it’s good.
And what do you want to do through your music?
JP: Music in itself is a pretty emotive medium; whether the words mean anything or not, music can still move people, and some people focus on the lyrics, and the melody doesn’t matter as much. I think you can’t really separate spirit and music, and to be able to carry that into places that don’t usually hear or feel hope, feel something deeper, or feel God without so much saying it—that would probably be the vision.
And now the easy stuff—what’s your favorite thing about Joe, Pastor Phil?
PP: Joe’s a lovely, great, kind young man, full of fun, very good with other people, and I really enjoy his company.
What about your favorite thing about your father, Joe?
JP: When he’s around, I don’t have to pay for anything (laughs). Dad has a very public image of being a pastor, we’re lucky enough to have him as our father. It’s good that he’s not just funny on stage, he’s pretty funny offstage too. He’s a lot of fun, and you know, life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. He makes it fun, and not only that, he’s incredibly wise, and very gracious, not just to other people but to me as well—that’s probably one of the biggest things that stand out for me.
What’s the thing about Joe that annoys you the most, Pastor Phil?
PP: I think our first child is the one we have to pity the most because Rebekah was the one we learned parenting with and by the time Joe comes along, you’re okay with some of the things that used to annoy you with your first child, because you realize they’ll get through it and make it to the other side.
I’d say Joe’s fairly strong-minded, so to listen isn’t always the easiest thing for him to do, but he’s really great to work with. He’s had some challenging moments in his life in the last couple of years and he’s been brave and courageous and managed to get through without being a problem. I can’t even think of anything about Joe that annoys me right now, except probably the fact that he’s in Los Angeles now and not in Sydney!
Joe, what is it like having a father who as you mentioned earlier, is so much in the public eye, pastoring a church and running the C3 Church Global network?
JP: A lot of people think they know him but there’s probably only a handful of people who really know him well and I’m kinda protective over that and jealous for that. In this line of work, nothing is separated. It’s not like he’s a CEO of a tech firm, where he gets home and he doesn’t have to live or talk technology at home. But with this, it’s a 24/7 job. You don’t just leave the office and stop being a pastor. I think that’s probably one of the things I feel very protective over, having moments where it’s just family, just us hanging out. You don’t need a whole lot of it—because then you start annoying each other!
Speaking of turnarounds, Joe, we have something here we’d like you to comment on (shows a picture of Joe Pringle taken about four years ago when he was last at CHC).
JP: What is that?! Bigfoot does exist! Can I burn that?
JP: Ah, fine wine just gets better with age, doesn’t it?
I think it’s really a matter of healthy choices—mostly an active lifestyle. In L.A, I join a fight gym, do boxing and muay thai. I live down at the beach on Santa Monica, so I run on the beach, go hiking once or twice a week in the mountains … I just try to be more active, not self-conscious to the point of insecurity but just more conscious of taking care of the self.
PP: He’s doing a lot better than he used to; he’s watching what he eats and exercising so I’m happy about that. I think health’s a big issue; food nowadays has a lot of artificial stuff, preservatives in it, people put a lot of poison into their bodies. There’s so much stuff that goes into our bodies, you gotta be living healthy just to counteract the impact of it all. I just eat right. And I’m planning on getting fitter every year until I’m 90.
JP: Well we can’t all be Singaporean—you guys all look 40 years younger than you are! I think it’s the moisture in the air.
Career-wise, what are you working on at the moment in L.A. Joe?
JP: At the moment, I’m working on several different projects with my band, Neon Hymns and another band called Feverist. All of that’s exciting; I’m also working in production for an independent short film, so it’s a very interesting time.
Pastor Phil, as you showed in the teaser video during service for the upcoming Presence Conference in less than two weeks, the theme this year is “Our God Is Magnificent”. What is it you want to achieve at the conference this year?
PP: It’s a global conference for C3 to gather all our thousands of pastors and leaders from around the world, to boost everyone toward the 2020 vision—to have 1,000 churches planted around the world by the year 2020. But Presence, taking out the global element, is for the greater church, so there’s Presbyterians, Methodists, the Salvation Army—everybody—coming together, but not just to get information but inspiration, for people to soak in the presence of God.
More specifically, people are facing a lot of problems that make God small for them. Our theme, to magnify God, is part of what we want to do; it’s not that we can make Him bigger but we can make Him bigger in people’s perceptions of him.
I also feel I’ve got a message to take individual believers up a level, and I’ve hinted at that here, I think a lot of believers have Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. I think we’ve got to shift ourselves from what God can do for us to what we can do for God, and to move from Him dying for us as our Savior to us dying for Him as our Lord.
Thank you both so much!