A peek inside the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ

Sunday services at the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ (FHMCC) might look more like a rock concert at a biker convention but in reality, it's a bible-centered church in a heavy metal wrapper.

The methods of the church might seem unorthodox by mainstream standards, but this church isn’t for everyone. That’s ok, because they're not looking to attract everyone. They reach out to those who might not ever enter a church to begin with for one reason or another.

“Suits and ties are welcome, but we encourage concert t-shirts,” said Brian Smith, founder and pastor of the FHMCC. “It should never matter what you wear. It’s about Jesus.”

Brian also doesn’t wear typical preacher garb. He wears a short sleeve black work shirt displaying tats on both arms. His name is embroidered on one side and FHMCC is on the other.

Currently, FHMCC holds services at 2655 Wagner Ford Road, where they are renting the old Grafton Kennedy School from the Northridge School District. Before that, they had been housed in a VFW and in a local bar.

Being fishers of men and women, the outreach of the church can be found in places where other churches might not go.

"We reach out to the shunned. This church welcomes the addicts, the homeless and prostitutes. Jesus hung out with those types of people. We don't want to condemn you, we want to love the hell out of you," said Brenda Shaw, a member of the congregation.

The church has been dubbed the “biker church,” but nothing could be further from the truth. The congregation is a mix of business professionals, drug addicts, lawyers, homeless, prostitutes, plumbers, grandmas and strippers – a wide range of humanity.

“We are a true cross-section of what the body of Christ looks like,” Smith said.

Considering the challenges everyone faces at some point in their lives, there are moments when they aren’t sure which way to turn.

“I don’t want to paint the picture that I lived a godless life all my life and started this church out of the blue,” Smith said. “I’ve always been a Christian, but not always a good one. When there were things like a divorce, I would run to the wrong things.”

He went back to church with no intention of starting his own. It was the furthest thing from his mind.

“If you told me I would be doing this five years ago, I would have laughed at you,” he said.

After awhile, he started a small bible study group. One day, after a talk with his pastor, something changed.

“I knew without a shadow of doubt,” he said. “I got this sky splitting, burning bush experience call to preach. I was to start a biker church.”

An idea was set into motion, and on June 19, 2011, the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ opened its doors. That first day, 65 to 75 people attended services.

Each week features a different band providing music for the congregation. The heavy metal is used as a tool to attract those who probably wouldn’t look at a traditional church.

Some of the musicians can shred a guitar with the best of any big name metal guitarists.

“Some people miss the message that Brian has brought into this church,” Shaw said. “Don’t get us wrong – we have some good musicians coming through here, but it is all praise music.”

But the words “heavy metal” in the name of the church are not about the music. It’s a reference to putting on the armor of God, something that struck Smith one day and stuck ever since.

“We don’t head bang,” Smith said. “It’s the same bible, just wrapped in a different cover. We are a Christ-centered bible church.”

Interested in learning more? Visit FHMCC's Facebook page.

Want to go?
WHAT: First Heavy Metal Church of Christ
WHEN: 12 p.m. every Sunday
WHERE: 2655 Wagner Ford Rd., Dayton
INFO: 937-776-4281 or heavymetalchurch.com

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