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Painting with Phil Pringle

The pastor of one of Australia’s fastest growing churches paints his relationship with God

When we first meet Phil Pringle, he’s walking through the C3 car park in Oxford Falls, in Sydney’s north. He says hello to everyone who walks past, as if he knows them. Perhaps he does know them.


Familiarity is not something you’d expect from the pastor of one of Australia’s fastest growing churches. Thousands of people turn up to worship at hundreds of C3 churches both in Australia and overseas. The church has an aggressive church planting strategy. Phil says he wants to see 1000 C3 churches by 2020. There are just under 500 churches now.

Born in New Zealand, Phil and his wife Chris moved to Sydney in 1980 and started a church in a surf club. He loves the beach, and says he spends as much of his devotion time in the early mornings as he can walking along the sand, talking to God.

But it’s Phil’s art that I’m here to talk to him about. His studio is in a demountable building on the other side of the carpark from the C3 Church auditorium. The room is classroom-size. Paint is everywhere, most likely the result of Phil’s “Splat” paintings, when he, quite literally, throws paint at the canvas. “This collection is about the explosion of life,” reads a description of the Splat painting collection on Phil’s website.

This man is busy. We meet him at 11am and he has delivered two talks already before meeting us. So as with most of Phil’s activities, I suspect, he paints quickly.

“The thing is more in stopping than in starting,” he tells me as he describes how he works. “My style is very quick.”

We asked Phil to paint his relationship with God. Watch our long-form video above as he speaks to us while he paints – about art, why he paints, why he believes the church should be more concerned with the arts and why he doesn’t want to be famous. 

* Video editing by Alexander Bennett.