Phil Collingsworth doesn’t fit the stereotype.
He is an example of the apple falling far – very far – away from the tree.
However, there have been no complaints by the rest of his tight-knit family.
“He’s very tender-hearted with his kids,” Phil’s wife Kim says. “He can cry at the drop of a hat. His father was the exact opposite. He was a military dad.
“He was not saved (for most of his life). He got saved five years before he died (in 2006). Grace changed a lot of things in his life.”
While taking a significantly different path than his own father, Phil has watched his musical gang swell into a traveling family of nine as they delight Southern Gospel Music fans across the country.
“There’s probably nothing that brings me more joy than seeing my kids excel,” Phil admits. “Probably the one thing that brings me most fulfillment out of the experience we have is now seeing our four children and our three in-law children take ownership in this. They see themselves as concert artists. Everything is viewed through that lens. That internalization process feels like the fulfillment of me being a father. I was able to transfer my dreams from 30 years ago to my children.”
The group’s progress has vastly exceeded expectations.
“I didn’t envision this,” Phil points out. “It was not Kim’s idea at all. Kim was brought along by the power of the Lord. She’d much rather be home, keeping house, cooking and cleaning and going to Walmart. She has absolutely no ambition in the concert realm, but she’s one of the most talented people out there. She feels strongly about us doing it due to the calling of the Lord.
“I did not envision that it would morph into a full-time entity. I didn’t think it would become a company. I never dreamed that all of this would happen, but the Lord has been a phenomenal blessing.”
Phil and Kim began performing together as a duet six weeks before they were married, which was 30 years ago. Now, they’re in their 18th year of full-time ministry.
Three of the Collingsworth siblings – 27-year-old Brooklyn Blair, 26-year-old Courtney Metz and 23-year-old Phillip – are married, leaving William Blair, Michael Metz and Sharlenae Collingsworth joining their spouses on the bus. The youngest Collingsworth sibling – 19-year-old Olivia – rounds out the crew.
“He has a neat gift of making the in-law kids welcome into the family,” Kim explains. “Those in-law kids just adore him. He treats them just like our kids.”
With those additional flourishing relationships, Father’s Day becomes even more special for the leader of the Collingsworth pack. They’ll celebrate this Father’s Day while performing at Central Church of the Nazarene in Flint, Mich.
The growth Phil continues to see in the family ministry may be enough of a gift.
“It’s a situation when it finally settles in to you that they’re getting it,” Phil says. “They’re understanding the atmosphere of the concert, and they learn to flow with the atmosphere. We don’t have a pre-set list. They know where we’re going to start and where we’re going to end, but they have no clue what’s in the middle. That all comes with maturity. They have the feel.”
He’s hopeful that they’ll spend several more Father’s Days together on a stage somewhere.
“I see (envision) that we will continue touring at least another 15 years, maybe 20,” Phil shares. “We love good preachers. We have made a lot of great relationships … Dr. David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, Jim Cymbala, Will Graham (Billy Graham’s grandson). I’d love to do some international touring with great preachers. That would be a wish for the future.”
The Collingsworth family tells all about dad …
On her relationship with her father … “The other kids will tell you that Daddy spoils me, but I don’t think that’s the case. I was the first (oldest) kid. I taught him how to be a dad. I call him when I need to make a big decision, especially business decisions. He’s like my role model.”
On what people might not know about her father … “My dad flips houses. He buys the house and turns them around. That’s what he does for fun. That’s his golf. He also has a dealer’s license, so he goes to car auctions and buys cars and fixes them up as well.”
On her relationship with her father … “Dad is a very business-minded guy. He told me I was the most like him. Dad flips houses, and me and my husband (Michael Metz) are flipping our third house. We are (both) techy people. That’s kind of our relationship.”
On what people might not know about her father … “Dad plays the organ. No one knows that. He played when I was little, and he just stopped. He said, ‘I’m not playing anymore,’ so he doesn’t play now. Every now and again, if we are in a really good church with a good organ, he will play. He plays a mean organ.”
On his relationship with his father … “We have common interests in the production side of concerts. I do it (in concert), but he helps me dream it up. We do cars together. There’s a lot of similarities.”
On what people might not know about his father … “He does not play sports. Instead, he shops for cars and buys houses. Those are his sports.”
On her relationship with her father … “My dad loves to take me out to breakfast to a place called Country Inn (located in the family’s hometown of Mt. Orab, Ohio). I’ve always been a daddy’s girl. We go shop for cars. We are very close in that way. He’s very loving, and he’s one of the most giving people I’ve ever met. Sometimes, he’ll go to Steak and Shake and get a milkshake, and I’ll ask, ‘Dad, can I have a drink?’ He’ll say, ‘you can just have it.’ He will give you the shirt off of his back.”
On what people might not know about her father … “He does this every time we go to a restaurant … he likes to get diet (soda) and Dr. Pepper and mix them together. He might even put cherry in it. Also, he likes little, tiny dogs. He’s definitely a dog lover.”
n Phil’s relationship with their children … “When they were young, he was strong disciplinarian, but he was fun. He would tease the daylights out of them. When they became teenagers, I became the disciplinarian, and he became the more relaxed one. He’s been an amazing daddy.”
On what people might not know about Phil … “He’s always scheduled their dentist appointments. He hates golf. He says that is the biggest waste of time. He is in real estate. He has his car dealer’s license, and he has a fetish with light bulbs. He cannot stand for a bulb to be out anywhere in the house. He will drive to a store 20 minutes away (to purchase a replacement bulb). We were at Jonathan Byrd’s cafeteria (a restaurant located in Carmel, Ind., that holds concerts) when one of the bulbs on a three-tiered light was out. He was over there screwing in the light bulb trying to get it to come on.”
Phil Collingsworth talks about his children
Characterizing Brooklyn … “Brooklyn is the oldest, but her personality is as if she is the second child. She is the most pliable child we have. She probably only had one spanking in her life.”
What people may not know about Brooklyn … “Brooklyn is a naturally-incredible mom. It’s all she wants to do, even though she’s a phenomenal singer.”
Characterizing Courtney … “Courtney has the first-child personality, but she’s the second. It’s hilarious.”
What people may not know about Courtney … “Courtney is an extraordinary designer and home décor manager. She’s been offered jobs to decorate other people’s houses.”
Characterizing Phillip … “Phillip has always been the life of the party. He was signing Ernie Haase songs at the top of his lungs at 10 years old.”
What people may not know about Phillip … “Phillip is an avid (Cincinnati) Reds (a Major League Baseball team) fan. He’s had baseball outfits of every size that they offer for kids.”
Characterizing Olivia … “Olivia is very good at pulling tricks on the rest of us. She’s stored up quite a repertoire of them (that were) being done to her.”
What people may not know about Olivia … “Olivia is into cars. At 19, she’s on her third card. She trades them on eBay.”
Story and images by Craig Harris.
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in June 2017.
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