After coming to Christ in 2003 through the influence of a friend in what he calls the “hardcore” community, Pastor Tommy Green knows the importance of reaching out to young adults overlooked by traditional churches.
Tommy, an assisting minister at Salt Lake City Foursquare Church in Utah, says congregations can effectively reach out by offering their facilities for alternative-style concerts that will attract strangers with tattoos and off-beat clothing.
“Be ready to accept the ones others are rejecting, even if they ruin your carpet at a show, break a wall or do something crazy,” Tommy says. “Ask for eyes to see them the way God sees them. I think there’s something Davidic and powerful in the music and dance of this generation.”
Tommy practices what he preaches, opening the downtown Foursquare church’s Wednesday night young adult Bible studies to people of all backgrounds. That includes “metal heads” who like loud music, straightedge types who reject much of popular culture, and current or former drug users. Between 40 and 50 teens and 20-somethings gather for dinner, followed by Bible study, breakout sessions, prayer and personal ministry.
“We try to make it real clear that everyone is welcome,” explains Tommy, who grew up in the area. “It’s not about what you might be labeled as in the world. All they get is Jesus.
“If they get anything else, they feel the fakeness,” he continues. “That’s the point. We’re supposed to hold up the real, and then all the fake comparisons in people’s lives can dim.”
The 30-year-old father of two ministers outside the church walls, too. His main entrée into the hardcore scene is as lead vocalist for Sleeping Giant. Formed in 2006, the band has recorded three albums, including its latest release, Kingdom Days in an Evil Age. The late June release marked the start of its summertime Scream the Prayer tour.
“Sleeping Giant has been a total gift from the Lord,” affirms Tommy, a former bank manager who decided to devote full time to ministry in 2009. “We’ve seen hundreds of kids get saved at shows. Kids that don’t believe in God come up afterwards and say, ‘I didn’t realize it was real.’ Christian kids come up and say, ‘I couldn’t worship before like I did tonight.’ “
He knows how both groups feel. As a teen, he was a nihilist who cared little about God. However, thanks to the friend who introduced him to a community of believers in California, he came to Christ in the midst of a bitter divorce. Tommy also credits the church that had held alternative concerts for several years, creating a safe environment where he could learn more about Christ.
Soon after his conversion, he followed his ex-wife back to Utah to be closer to their daughter.
Tommy and his second wife, Krissi—also a Foursquare credentialed minister on the church’s staff—were married in 2006 and had their first son last year. In addition to serving as co-leader of the Wednesday Bible studies, Krissi is the church’s administrator.
“I couldn’t do it without her,” Tommy says of his partner, who helps him present the face of happy marriage to those who come from broken or dysfunctional homes. “She’s absolutely my backbone. We complement each other really well.”
Senior Pastor Tim McGill says Tommy has a powerful impact on the hardcore scene, because Sleeping Giant is the only Christian band of five that often tour together. Both his brief gospel presentations and miracles that follow touch hardened non-believers.
“We have seen two young guys healed of deafness, broken bones healed—a lot of things,” Tim tells Foursquare.org.
Despite this evidence, many fans have doubts about religion. To address them, last November Tommy self-published Religo-cide: A Primer on Deconstructing the Current Religious Structure for the Sake of True Relationship. Although the book sold fewer than 1,000 copies in its first six months, Tommy says he doesn’t care about having a bestseller. He wrote it primarily to reach young people coming to their shows.
Circulating primarily by word of mouth, the book is another chance to reach kids who don’t come to church. Tommy says his goal is to build another bridge to get young people into the body of Christ.
To further reach into this community, this spring he and Krissi started filming Revolution Reality TV. The interview and testimony show will air on several TV stations and later be posted on his ministry’s web site, www.revolutionreality.org.
To other Foursquare leaders who want to impact young adults, Tommy advises: Don’t get scared off by some of their tattoos or angry looks, because they have a passion that needs to be recognized.
“Don’t criticize or judge these kids,” Tommy asserts. “Don’t ask them to change faster than the Holy Spirit does. Make room for them, because they have something of value to God.”
By: Ken Walker, an award-winning freelance journalist in Huntington, W.V.