Founder of C3 Church in Sydney and leader of C3 Global was back at City Harvest Church on the weekend of Nov 17 and 18. We talk to him about un-forgiveness, marriage and his grandparenting goals.
City News: You talked about building on our faith on the weekend. Why is that important? What makes it hard for us to stay in faith?
Pastor Phil Pringle:We live in a negative world. I think 95 percent of the news we hear is negative. People prefer to hear negative things than good news. People have a bias towards being negative—it is the human condition. We are born like that, biased towards darkness and sin. It’s what we inherited from Adam. You don’t need to teach a child how to whine or steal or tell lies. But you have to teach them how to tell the truth and how to do the right thing. When we are born again, we have two natures. The old nature, which is trying to pull you to the negative, and the new nature, which is only activated by decision. [Our new nature] doesn’t act automatically like our natural man. When we are born again, every step we take is initiated by decision: “I’m now going to think like this”, ‘I’m now going to do like that”. That is why we need preachers who will urge us to walk that pathway of faith. The whole New Testament is activated by faith. Faith is the key that opens every door.
You said you’ve committed yourself to be a builder in this life. What does that mean?
Well, I know a lot of people who are critical and I don’t plan to hang out with people who are critical. They pull down; I build up. There are critics of art, food, music, movies, plays. I am not one of those people. I don’t want to put myself in the seat of someone who’s critical and critique sermons, churches or people. I want to be a person who builds up. I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved that 100 percent, because my human nature seeks to find out the problem or the thing that is negative about situations. I then have to make a discipline [of it]—“I’m gonna build this person”, “I’m gonna build that church”. I want to tell them they’re wonderful, that they are doing a great job and they’re incredible.
Life is made up of moments. Some people are affected by a single moment and their lives head into a downward trajectory. What would you say to them?
You have to go back to the moment, and revisit where you took the turn in the road. Revisit that decision. For a lot of people, it’s a moment of un-forgiveness. They were wounded, and they took offence. They nursed the offence and started hating that person. You have to go back to that moment, put a picture of the person in front of you and say ‘I forgive you’, and let it go. They may have to do it a hundred times to get it out of their system. As long as there is un-forgiveness in your heart, that is a foothold for the devil, an opening for demons to come in and torment you; torment comes from un-forgiveness and fear. So you have to go back to that moment when you took offence, or when you let fear grip you, and say “I am going to start believing in God. I’m not gonna be defeated by this.”
Your message on Sunday talked about things that drain our faith, such as disappointment. How can we guard our hearts against such things?
We can’t avoid being disappointed or discouraged. You can’t stop yourself from feeling these feelings, but when you do feel them, the idea is to recover from them and not let them drown or overwhelm you. Often, I think people try in their own strength to get themselves out of drowning. But we need to look to Christ the Savior. When we can’t get ourselves up out of that water like Peter, remember he looked up to Jesus, so Jesus could do for him what he could not do for himself.
You and Pastor Chris have been married for 48 years—wow! What do you observe happening in today’s marriages, and what can we do in the church to ensure our marriages are what God desires them to be?
I think marriage has become more disposable and less reverenced in society. With people introducing other kinds of marriages, it devalues the marriage as it has always been mooted by Scripture. You need to be firmly fixed on God as being the originator of the marriage, and the fact that you made the commitment to God before you made a commitment to the person [you’re marrying]. My wife’s security is in knowing that I am committed to Jesus, therefore she is secure in the fact that we’re not gonna part. She’s also secure in the fact that I will fulfil my obligation as her husband.
I haven’t said anything about love, because love is a weak foundation for marriage. You won’t love your partner every day of your life. There will be days you’ll argue, are upset with each other, or have strong negative feelings about each other. But your marriage is based on a commitment. You made a vow, and you’re committed to Christ. For people who say “I’m gonna marry because I love that person”, what are they going to do when they stop loving that person? People would end up saying things like “we grew apart”, “we fell out of love”. God has created a society that is stable on the basis of a man making a commitment to a woman and raising a family in that protected environment.
Of course, love is definitely a part of what marriage is all about. You should feel an affinity and a love for one another. Many marriages today, to me, are based on selfishness. “She meets my needs”, “He meets my needs”, ‘What am I getting out of this relationship?” That’s not how marriage should be. It should be “How can I bless her?”, “How can I bless him?” It’s a matter of laying down your lives for one another so that you can live out Christ in that marriage.
When you first started C3 Network, did God give you a grand vision of what it would be, and is it today what you expected it to be?
It’s far more than I ever expected it to be. I didn’t have a grand vision. We began the movement by accident. The government asked us to be an authorizing body because there was a need for more celebrants’ licenses in order to marry people. So, we started this denomination with about 40 to 50 churches. We felt God wanted us to plant more churches, so we did. We kept planting and the network has now grown to about 600 churches.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from helming the network?
Choose people for leadership slowly and carefully.
Presence Conference has been going strong—what sort of fruit have you seen come out of the conference over the years?
I think people’s love for the presence of God has increased. The standard of worship, presentation and production in churches have been enhanced. The culture of moving in the Spirit without it being unusual has been increased and I think the inspiration to go to higher levels for everybody has been increased. We’ll doing Presence in the America [as well] next year.
Congratulations on becoming a grandfather again really soon! Your son Joe and his wife are having an Easter 2019 baby. What are your grandpa goals?
Yes! My grandpa goals are simply to spend time with my grandchildren and help them fall in love with church.