Out There!

I was invited recently for a meeting. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose was before I got there and I’m not even that sure the person who called it knew.

At one point they also asked me this question “ Do you realise how far “Out There” you are?”

Now I guess if I was looking for an ego bump or a sense of identity from not fitting in I would have heard this question as a compliment. But to be honest it made me despair that I would ever find a home in a church. In fact I left that meeting feeling lonely and depressed. 

It’s probably my own fault. I’ve always looked for clothes that were different or picked a car that was different or a dogs name that was different. I’ve always sought to stamp my individuality on the world by being as unique as I could be. In fact I’ve been doing that so long I don’t even think about it. And I probably even convince myself that I am just like everybody else. My denial is complete.

But you know, I suspect that most people just want to belong. I’m pretty sure nobody grows up dreaming of being alone or lonely. We all want people to accept us, love us and “get” us. We desire to be heard and understood. Celebrated and cherished. Don’t we? Does anyone really want to be told they are “Out There”

You know its maybe an Irish thing. Maybe even a Belfast thing or possibly even a small Belfast church thing but being asked if you realise how far “out there” you are is not a statement I encounter anywhere else in the world. 

In Canada and America and Europe I find myself not just tolerated but frequently celebrated. In fact I recently had a church pastor who’d once tried to hire me explain that they hadn’t hired anyone else because they realised there is just one Brian Houston. Now that felt good. I think he was saying the same thing the guy in Ireland was saying but just framing it very differently.

Most creatives struggle to belong. They have a different perspective, a unique approach and a level of sensitivity that far exceeds what many folks consider normal. Thats usually what makes their work stand out. Creatives are designed to stand out or at least their work is. If it ain’t eye or ear catching then its possible the rest of us will ignore it as our busy lives roll by.

So if you have a creative person in your house, your family or your church please try to make a space for them. In fact the more weird and wacky they are, the more you should work to hold onto them.

Conformity is not a language creative people speak.

They will be the person who challenges you, bugs you and makes it hard for you to understand them. But they will also be the person who makes others uncomfortable.

But the only reason people move from the status quo is because they are uncomfortable.

Without the voice of the creative life is a slow drift to the middle.

And if we silence this unique prophetic voice entirely we will wake up one day with a very bland and beige landscape. A landscape devoid of all colour, longing for freshness and bereft of all brilliance. And by then it will be too late. Death soon follows. 

I’ve been involved with a few churches over the years. Some even had high profile status as art their creatives produced travelled round the world. But I’ve seen very few churches where creatives are an integral part of the leadership.

If we want creativity, imagination and radical newness to emerge from our congregations we need to have creative people with weird ideas on our boards and leadership teams.

Diversity will only appear in our meetings when its represented in leadership. Our leadership needs to reflect where we are going, not where we’ve been. 


Please feel free to comment or share as I very much welcome your views.

7 Responses to Out There!

  1. Laurie September 29, 2018 at 10:50 pm #

    Well said. Don’t ever change who God creates you to be. You have been a huge part of ushering in worship at the Lighthouse. You are family and we love you

  2. Jonathan HANLEY September 30, 2018 at 4:51 am #

    Just to say how meaningful I find this post.
    Thank you.

  3. Gareth Johnston (GJ) September 30, 2018 at 6:16 am #

    Brian thank the good Lord you are Out There!!! When people, groups or churches try to put a creative person into categories or boxes it breaks their creative flow, mind and overall sense of being. I have always be a thinker a blend of logical and creative combinations, in fact, this down the years I has won hearts and push people because I have a habit of saying it how it is. I am like Peter a rough and ready working class man with an East Belfast twist. In fact sometimes the churches have become such much of elite club to attend I preferred not to, I would rather walk the path alone with the lord doing his work than be boxed up or chained something I don’t agree with. Just a thought Love and blessings to you and the family Bro. GJ

  4. Brian Houston September 30, 2018 at 6:33 am #

    This is the comment from Linda Nordick who’s comment didn’t register for some reason

    Hi Brian..this is the comment I tried to leave on the blog:

    Hey Brian…. still not sure what the meeting was for but let me be the first to say that anyone that chooses to walk the way of the Master is “Way out there”..of course we are..just got this from my good friend Tracy who lives out at Nemiah out west: feel free to declare it for yourself my friend and brother sojourner. We in Canada love you and invite you to come walk with us whenever you can..its hard when your tribe is somewhere over the ocean isnt it..I get it..my church is online with Harvest Kelowna and I know them all and most of them dont know me..but they are my tribe…love you and Pauline and thankyou to you both for all you infuse into the Body of Christ in Canada and the US of A. This is Tracys messenger sent to me today:

    ” Be blessed and encouraged..Goes with a very awesome picture the Lord gave me :
    I saw dozens of eagles who had picked up snakes and soared higher and higher. The snakes wrapped and wrapped around the eagles but the eagles laughed as they soared up and up.
    Above the snake line!! I learned later that’s an actual thing 😁

    While doing internet search I found this awesome writing:

    “There is a certain altitude where snakes do not go, which scientists call “The Snake Line”. This snake line is a particular plateau at a given elevation above sea level.

    It is an invisible line of elevation and this is where hunters and climbers pitch their camps.

    Above this line there are no snakes.

    We are NOT of this world. We are from above, a higher kingdom, a higher civilization and a higher culture… The Kingdom of God. God Himself has chosen to abide in us (for those who accept him). This means that we ought to live a life that brings forth the God-kind of results.

    For those who know God, we are called to an amazing journey with Him….That’s why He calls us new creatures and peculiar people. I mean how do you explain why we smile when we should be crying? Why we give to receive and why we become servants in order to be kings?

    I have some people in my life who think I am not REALISTIC… but seriously what is reality? When they ask me how I am doing I always say that am great…they usually ask me if I’m saying am fine by faith or for real? What could be more real than God?

    Situations and circumstances do get challenging but I never view them with my physical eyes, I have learnt to view them in God’s perspective…. I am never without help. He will never leave me nor forsake me. All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose!

    NEWS FLASH: I love the lord and I am in the purpose which He has called me. God is my REALITY!

    Situations, circumstances and systems of darkness ought not to dictate how we live. We have been offered the privilege of walking in friendship and intimacy with The King of kings, Jehovah God himself. That means He who created all things is our bestest friend then we can only be subject to Him.

    We are called to an amazing life: God lives through us, provides His wisdom, power and grace and He asks of us only that we obey. The devil is cunning and yucky but we are far above him… we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. We must see the devil for who he is, defeated! The enemy can only preach through situations and circumstances and we must know that we can live above them. We are carriers of God, We have all that we need for life and godliness,

    “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” – 2 Peter 1:3

    “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;… “1Pe 2:9

    soaring eagle 3 We are called to soar high where eagles fly. I live where eagles fly… I live so so lost in God that I live above the snake line. I am far above what the enemy can conjure up. I am the habitation of the Most High God, the Almighty God…in Him there is no darkness meaning darkness cannot dwell in me or with me.

    Anytime I begin to feel pressure from situations and circumstances I GO HIGHER…I spend more time talking to God than looking around me.

    Choose to LIVE ABOVE THE SNAKE LINE when things try to put pressure on you TAKE IT HIGHER, GO HIGHER up on the mountain!”
    Chat Conversation End
    Type a message…

  5. Ruth Dyke September 30, 2018 at 9:41 am #

    Hi Brian I agree wholeheartedly with all you’ve said. I again find myself ‘out there’ with no church and at 70 that can feel a bit scary, but I’m part of His body and am secure in Him. I’m involved, in a very amateur way, in the local folk club scene and sing and play for Him with whatever songs I know and at every opportunity. I would love to be part of a prophetic, ‘out there’ organic church, I can’t alter who I am or how God made me to be, in order to fit into a traditional church.
    Keep on fulfilling your purpose in Him, which is to be ‘out there’, a prophetic minstrel with a huge heart, a precious child in the body of Christ, a pioneer for Him. You are so loved and appreciated

  6. Brian Houston September 30, 2018 at 11:54 am #

    Thank you Ruth. You are amazing!!!

  7. Pete WInkler April 17, 2023 at 12:37 am #

    Brian, I was introduced to you thru your album Anam Cara. It touched my heart deeply. It has birthed anew song in my heart and life and I am grateful for the new life that emerges with it. I read some of these blog posts today and enjoyed them, particularly the comment that our leadership needs to reflect where we are going not where we have been.
    Blessings to you brother, Give a call or reach out if you come to the states, I recently moved back to Northern Wisconsin. God is working outside the building, yet as the master builder he is shaping a kingdom people, manifesting salt and light to those in this world..

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