Q&A with Duncan & Kate Smith: Leaders in Revival
Written By Alice Clarke
Duncan and Kate Smith have been presidents of Catch The Fire World since 2015.
I caught up with them last week to find out about their history with Catch The Fire, and what their lives look like now.
We chatted about life in Raleigh, time off, and living a lifestyle of revival.
Q: When did you first visit Toronto?
Kate: We visited in ’99 for a renewal meeting. Then in May 2000, we got on to a small PIH church planting school.
Duncan: That was prophetic, wasn’t it!
Kate: Yes! We also got to meet John Arnott then, and that’s when he got to spend some time with us just before we flew home, and basically offered Duncan a job.
Duncan: John said, “tell me your story.” It was a pretty sad story of brokenness and disconnection from what we felt was our calling. At the end of it, he said, “I can really see that you’re limping. I trust people with a limp. I’d like you to consider coming and joining this team in Toronto.” I told him I’d come just to clean toilets!
We sold our house and moved three months later, and I started out as the business developer in October. Then I became the Executive Director in 2001.
Q: You then went down to Raleigh in 2008?
Kate: Yes, we went down in late July and then started the church on September 21st. We’re about to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We’re calling it a Catch The Fire Funfest. It’ll be a whole weekend, with fun things for the church family, and to bring their friends as an outreach.
Q: What does your role look like on a day to day basis?
Kate: It really depends whether we’re in a travel rhythm or whether we’re at home.
Duncan: We travel at least half the time now, if not more.
Kate: It’s something that we’re still trying to balance out. With the help of Jess, our PA, we try to maximize our time when we’re back from trips. We spend a lot of time when we’re travelling ministering and connecting with leaders in different churches, whether they’re Catch The Fire churches or others.
Q: When you’re home in Raleigh, what do your days look like?
Duncan: We spend our time investing in influencers.
Kate: We work from home and from the church office. We catch up on phone calls and get together with people for meals and coffees. We’re involved in MCing and speaking once or twice a month. We do lots of things!
We’re overseeing vision and culture, really. I think that’s what we see our primary role as being. It’s very much about empowering people. So we’re always encouraging our team.
Duncan: We meet with smaller groups of people through whom we know we can meet with the entirety of our world. So, by meeting with Steve and Sandra we know that we can meet with the entire Toronto team. If we meet with Murray and Ash Smith and JT and Cathy Mlinarcik we can meet with the entirety of Catch The Fire Raleigh Durham.
Kate: Part of our role too is networking with other movements and ministries. We’ve had coaching from Michael Brodeur and he’s helped us realize that we’re stepping into an ambassadorial role for our movement. So we’re making sure that we as a movement are staying current in lots of ways relationally, spiritually, communication-wise.
Q: How do you find the changes in schedule? Is either of you a creature of habit or are you ok being flexible with all the travelling you do?
Duncan: I would say that we’re fluid people. We like our time to be fluid, intentional, and influential. But we’re very intuitive about how that works, rather than being structured.
Kate: I’m one of those people that if I want to work, I’ll do it, regardless of the time of day. If I’m feeling inspired and it’s first thing in the morning, and I want to do a bunch of emails, I’ll do it then. It doesn’t have to be in an office. Sometimes you have those creative moments at different times of the day or night.
We’re thinking about the ministry most of the time. It’s a lifestyle, it’s not a job that you turn on and off. And we’re happy to steward what God’s given us and I think that’s part of who we are.
Duncan: But if things go wrong, it’s going to come to our desk.
Kate: [laughs] We have to depend on the Lord!
Q: What does time off look like?
Duncan: When we’re at home, we take Fridays and Saturdays off for the most part, but we’re very flexible with that.
Kate: Also, when we come home from travelling, we take a full day afterwards to recover, to unpack, and do normal things. Like laundry, going to the chiropractor, getting the groceries done and normal stuff like that. And also catching up with our family and our grandkids, which is a lot of fun.
Duncan: We try to take a holistic approach. I like to ride my motorcycle just to get some downtime.
Kate: We also like to go out to restaurants with friends and have an evening meal out from time to time.
Q: You have lived in Raleigh for 10 years now, what do you love about it?
Kate: The nice warm winters! We love the trees, being close to the beach, the mountains.
Duncan: It’s beautiful. We love the lakes. We love that it’s an ethnically diverse population. If you come to Catch The Fire Raleigh on a Sunday morning, it looks like the nations. That’s very untypical in the south.
Kate: We love that there’s lots of entrepreneurial activity, which is attracting families from all over the place. There’s a buzz and it’s growing rapidly. We feel like there’s a huge opportunity to make a difference.
Q: You mentioned that you love the beauty of your area, and Duncan, that you like to get out on your motorbike. Would you say that you’re outdoorsy people?
Kate: I like to get around a hot tub or a pool - that’s my preferred place in the summer! I like getting out and being in the garden, creating beautiful things, but I also like indoor decoration. We’ve got a vision for our home that keeps us busy and also keeps us creative.
Duncan: I love to walk, I walk my dog every day at home. I used to mountain bike until not too long ago. We like to canoe if we get the opportunity, but we do it so seldom because we’re just so busy. I’d like to class myself as an adventurer, I love hiking and mountain biking, and all of that, but I realize that I’ve allowed that to slip down the agenda of priorities.
Kate: Also, moving country, the climate makes a difference.
Duncan: It really is so stinking hot here!
Q: I’ve heard you talk about revival being a lifestyle. What does that look for you day-to-day?
Duncan: It looks like waking up in the morning and hoping that my very first thought is something like “Good morning, Holy Spirit, thank you for this beautiful day.” Then leaping out of bed, putting on the coffee, feeding the dog, and sitting down with my Bible open on my knee, spending time in the secret place. I read the Bible through from cover to cover every year.
Kate: We try and start our meetings at 10am so we’ve got that time in our own thoughts with the Lord beforehand.
Duncan: Time in prayer, committing the ministry and the deepest thoughts of our hearts to the Lord. I’ve realized that the smallest thoughts are prayers for him.
In Genesis 24 there’s of the story of Abraham’s servant Eleazar. He promises to go and get a wife for Isaac. He gets to the well, and he says, [my paraphrase], “Lord, let it be that the first girl that comes out gives me a drink of water, and let it also be that she offers to water my camels.” He makes this elaborate prayer to the Lord. Sure enough, it happens: Rebekah comes out and draws water for them, [and she’s the one who will marry Isaac].
Eleazar was invited to her house, and her father and older brother ask him to convey the story of why he was there. And he describes that he was speaking in his heart, praying for the right girl to come out (Genesis 24:45).
That epic prayer was just in his thoughts!
Those few verses summarize the spirituality that the Lord has led us into. It has allowed Kate and I to keep going in the midst of some seriously hectic times. Just being to be able to trust that as a son or daughter of God, that a fleeting little thought to Him is sufficient to touch His heart as a major prayer. It doesn’t have to happen in a prayer meeting, speaking out loud, or on your knees, although all those things are legitimate.
Even things like our new church building, that was just a thought as we were walking the dog, “Lord would it be ok if we ask you for another one?” We’re just thinking it, and He does it. He’s such a good Father!
Q: What does a Revival lifestyle look like for you, Kate?
Kate: For me, my whole life is about remaining a daughter. With our schedule, one minute we’re in the southern hemisphere, the next minute we’re on vacation, then we’re at home with our church. It can be disorienting.
I can have all these questions, “When I’m home, am I really making a difference? Am I making a difference when we travel?” I just have to keep going back to the basic reality that I’m a daughter, I’m a son in the kingdom of my father, and He’s called me to be me.
The responsibility can sometimes get a little bit overwhelming. But then I have to remember that everything that I do is by the grace of God. Just resting in Him, and being who He’s made me to be as a daughter in the Kingdom.
It’s trusting that God is putting the pieces together. That all we have to do is just hold His hand and go with Him, and trust and believe that what we’re doing is having an influence because we’re partnering with Him.
Duncan: It’s that friendship with God.