The Biker Preacher

I’m back.

After spending a refreshing week visiting with family in another state, I’m back at the keyboard with a story that inspired me – and that I wanted to share with you.

I was cruising the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to catch up on the news that I missed from last week, and I came across an interesting article about a small church in Tucker (suburban Atlanta).

No, it’s not a scandal involving fleecing the sheep or running from Congressional investigations, it was actually a heartwarming story about a church that appears to have the right perspective:

Biker preacher at home on Harley or leading church

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/14/08

Biker dude – not preacher dude – comes to mind when you meet Tom Hamilton.

He is indeed a tattoo-laden, leather-jacket wearing, Harley man.

But motorcycles aren’t the burly pastor’s No. 1 passion.

Jesus is.

And he’s in his element during Tuesday night bible study at Sozo New Covenant Fellowship church in Tucker. The brightly-lit storefront space serves as a sanctuary for nearly 50 worshippers, and rows of oversized loveseats and chairs are their pews.

Standing on a platform, dressed in his usual liturgical attire – jeans and a T-shirt – the preacher dissects the Old and New Testament with church members.

He points out that the book of Luke is written in an orderly way and the book of Mark is not. He picks member’s minds on the role of women during the time of Jesus. And the 51-year-old reminds them that he too is a student of scripture.

“I don’t know about you,” he says. “It’s not that I’m a slow learner. I’m just a fast beginner.”

Hamilton and friend Charlie Crippen co-pastor the unconventional church. Crippen leads Sunday morning services while Hamilton plays the piano and guitar with the band and teaches children’s Sunday School.

The church, however, is Hamilton’s baby.

“I’m living my dream right now,” said Hamilton, a former Marine and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Sozo was birthed from a weekly Bible study that Hamilton and his wife Brenda started at their home in 2001.

The couple has been married for 27 years.

“It started out with a few people Tom and I hung out with recognizing there was something in him we could learn from,” said Brenda, 61. She works as church assistant and treasurer. “It got bigger and we moved into our neighbor’s great room. It got to the point where everyone really felt like we had the underpinnings of a church,” she said.

Hamilton left his job as network engineer and obtained a degree from Beulah Heights Bible College. He’s now working on a master’s degree in divinity at Mercer University. (click here to read the rest).

If you look above, you’ll notice that Pastor Tom left a career in network engineering (a lucrative profession) to enter bible college. It’s interesting to note that he wasn’t “anointed” by a “spiritual father” and dispatched to help fleece the sheep for a pimp. He actually answered a call into ministry from God – and studied to show himself approved.

Here’s another interesting note from the article:

Members volunteer with SafeHouse Outreach and other programs that help the homeless and hungry. Anyone in need is welcome at Sozo, but along with help they get some tough love and questions from pastor Hamilton.

“My first reaction when someone says they need help with rent is ‘bring me your budget,’ ” he stated.

New members must take Crown Financial Ministries 10-week biblically-based course at the church. The course is led by a church member. Couples and individuals pay $55 and $45, respectively, for course materials, Hamilton said.

I’m not a huge fan of Crown Financial – especially because of their emphasis on insisting on tithing, but it’s refreshing to hear about Sozo’s commitment to the community – and accountability. 

Another interesting observation:

The small church has not always met its own budget of nearly $3,000 per month in rent. High school and Naval Academy buddies and other friends have helped pay the bills, Hamilton said.

On a few occasions, car dealership owner Tim Stewart has paid the rent.

You mean to tell me that Pastor Tom isn’t extorting the sheep into giving by promising them a “pressed down, shaken together” blessing…they’re actually meeting their financial obligations instead of making sure the pastor drives a $200K Bentley and wears $3K suits? What heresy 🙂 !

Finally, this statement really caught my attention:

“I met Pastor Tom at the dealership in Tucker, ” Stewart said. “I instantly loved him because he rode a Harley. He really puts forth his heart and wears it on his sleeve. Very few people will actually lay down corporate America and do what he’s doing.”

Not only will very few people lay down corporate America to preach the Gospel, very few people will lay down corporate Christianity to preach the true Gospel.

I don’t know about their doctrine, but the it appears as though this church is impacting the community by presenting the Gospel.

Unless I find out otherwise, I’ll assume that they’re sincerely sharing the message of Jesus Christ and the Cross to a hungry world.


3 Responses to “The Biker Preacher”

  1. 1 gcmwatch April 14, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Welcome back.

    I looked at your site yesterday and thought now where is he??

    Great story….
    Give God the praise.
    Live Right
    Do good works.

    That about sums it up.

    Yesterday I was listening to the pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian and he said something I thought was kinda funny but really true. He said when people saw Jesus they thought “Home Depot”, not “holy man”.

  2. 2 Speaking Truth April 14, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Thank you sir.

    I’d like to think I’m well rested, but I was visiting family, so that usually means going from one house to another.


    It is a pretty good story, especially for a church in the midst of so many vipers in this area (Long, Dollar, various wannabe’s).

    I try not to be cynical, so I pray that Pastor Tom isn’t phased by the sudden media attention.

  3. 3 dupednomore April 17, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Glad your back! Interesting article to say the least…..Maybe I’ll visit this church.

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