New Inver Grove Heights pastor uses insight gained in Hollywood career

Chris Sikorowski went from working in the Hollywood film industry to pastoring Grace Church of the Nazarene in Inver Grove Heights this summer. He and his wife Allison and their two young sons, Elias and Brasen, moved from Pasadena, California to Inver Grove Heights in late July. (courtesy of the Sikorowski family)
Chris Sikorowski went from working in the Hollywood film industry to pastoring Grace Church of the Nazarene in Inver Grove Heights this summer. He and his wife Allison and their two young sons, Elias and Brasen, moved from Pasadena, California to Inver Grove Heights in late July. (courtesy of the Sikorowski family)
Sikorowski, who used to produce behind-the-scenes specials, poses with Will Smith while working on “Men in Black II.” (courtesy of the Sikorowski family)
Sikorowski, who used to produce behind-the-scenes specials, poses with Will Smith while working on “Men in Black II.” (submitted photo)
Sikorowski poses with Arnold Schwarzenegger while working on the movie “Total Recall.” (submitted photo)
Sikorowski poses with Arnold Schwarzenegger while working on the movie “Total Recall.” (submitted photo)
Sikorowski poses with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau while working on “Made.” (submitted photo)
Sikorowski poses with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau while working on “Made.” (submitted photo)
Sikorowski poses with Kurt Russell while working on “Used Cars.” (submitted photo)
Sikorowski poses with Kurt Russell while working on “Used Cars.” (submitted photo)

The new lead pastor of Grace Church of the Nazarene in Inver Grove Heights wasn’t always preaching in front of a congregation.

The Rev. Chris Sikorowski, 39, once worked in Hollywood’s film industry with actors as big as Will Smith, Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But after working on more than 100 movies, shows and documentaries, Sikorowski, along with his wife Allison and their two boys, Elias, 1 and a half, and Brasen, 7 months, left the West Coast, where he regularly rubbed elbows with some of Hollywood’s best-known stars, in late July and settled into their new home in a Inver Grove Heights.

Sikorowski worked mostly as a film producer, but also as a director, a cinematographer and about a dozen other roles. His Internet Movie Database (IMdB) page proves that.

Though his two careers — pastor and film producer — could seem like they encompass two different worlds, he points out that each, in fact, exists in the same world, and he likes to bring them together.

For Sikorowski, his experience in film and culture is a tool he finds useful as a pastor.

“I think that we have to engage culture, not run from it,” he says. “In my sermons and when I’m working with youth, I try to find clips from movies, TV shows and popular culture — things that are going on right now in the world — and tie them together with the truth that we find in Scripture.”

For example, in a recent sermon series entitled “Love Never Fails,” Sikorowski used an example from the classic 1987 film “The Princess Bride.”

He says the famous line spoken by the character Inigo Montoya, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die,” is not only familiar to most, but also relatable — the emotion, the focus, the eventual letdown. 

“I see it all as a dialogue and not as two things that are in opposition to one another,” Sikorowski says.

Answering a greater call

But how did the Twin Cities native go from working in Hollywood to pastoring in Inver Grove Heights?

He said he had the resume and career fit for success in Hollywood, finding his niche in various types of films, largely specials such as “making-of” documentaries, which feature behind-the-scenes looks at how movies are created.

At the same time he was volunteering at his church in Pasadena, California, and feeling drawn in another direction.

“At the end of the day, I felt like God was calling me to work in ministry,” he says. “I felt a conviction that that’s where God wanted me, that it wasn’t about the paycheck, but about what I was supposed to do.”

He attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, became an ordained minister in 2009, and after he and his wife had their sons, they decided to move to Minnesota where he accepted the lead pastor position at Grace Church of the Nazarene.

Sikorowski, who grew up in Burnsville and majored in film studies at the University of Minnesota, said he also thought that Minnesota would be a good place to raise his kids.

“I loved it here,” he says. “I had an amazing childhood, and I felt like this would be the best place to raise our kids.”

Oct. 25 will be Sikorowski’s 12th Sunday leading the service at Grace Church.

For those interested in contacting Chris Sikorowshi, he can be reached by email at pastorchris@gracenazarene and at his office by phone at 651-455-9464.

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at twitter.com/JPooleNews.

 

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