Published in  
Volume 1
February 21, 2023

04 - Catching Up With Iggy

A phone call with Ignmar Thomas.

Iggy! It’s good to hear your voice man. How are you? What are you up to these days?

I’m doing really good! I’m actually in France right now on a holiday just traveling around in a van with a few buddies–camping, surfing, enjoying some time away to recharge.

How’s school going? How much longer do you have before you’re finished?

School is going really well. We’re on break right now which is why I’m away. I have one year left and then I’ll have my Bachelor’s degree in Theology. I’ve been going through some lessons and classes on church planting which is pretty rad. I had to do an internship for school but I’m actually doing it through Bowl Church, which it’s growing a lot right now.

It sounds like you’re eating some food?

Oh yeah, just some couscous and rice. Ha! We just got done surfing–I was starving! The guys are making some pancakes for dessert, but I’ll wait for that until we’re off the call.

Sweet man, well, we don’t want to keep you from those pancakes too long. Can you tell us more of your story growing up? How old were you when you started skating? What did the action sports community look like then?

I think I was 13 years old? No, 12–yeah, 12. When my brother and I were younger there really wasn’t too much of an action sports community. When we wanted to skate we had to drive to the next city over to find a skatepark or other skaters. Back then there were really only a handful of guys at the parks. When I got older, maybe around 15 or 16, I started to really notice the lack of community within the culture. My friends and I liked to skate so we just started to build our own community. We didn’t have a park in the city we lived in, so we built The Bowl. The community is definitely growing. We have about 50 of us that skate regularly now.

Did you grow up playing other sports?

Do you know the sport handball? It’s like soccer but with your hands; it’s pretty big in Germany. I used to play it a lot–for like eight years probably. But when I was around 13 I quit and started skating. Well, until I broke my arm pretty bad, then I started to BMX. Later I went back to skating again; I didn’t really like BMX anymore, skating is just better for me. I used to go back and forth between BMX and skating. They definitely seemed to swap in popularity. A few years ago BMX was really big and there were no skaters; now it’s the opposite. During the winters I skied in Austria and I just started surfing in Florida during my internship with Ride Nature. That was actually my first time on a surfboard.

How did you break your arm?

I was learning 50-50s on the quarter pipe. It was at the end of a really hot session and I told myself, “Just one more.” I went to drop back into the quarter from a 50-50 and my back truck got hung up on the coping. I went to flat. It was really broken. That actually sucked pretty bad.

What about motorcycles? Last time we came to visit you were ripping around on a pretty rad Enduro!

Oh yeah! I bought my first bike when I was 16–the Husqvarna. That was really just so that I could drive it to school. Funny story, when I first got it I lost my license plate for the bike so I would just ride to school through the forest so that I wouldn’t get pulled over. That was crazy! Lately I’ve been building and restoring a couple of older antique motorcycles. I like motorcycles for sure.

When we first met, I remember you telling me about how there were a bunch of festivals in your city where all of your friends–as high schoolers–would just go to get wasted and party. What has it been like growing up in Germany as a Christian with a culture that seems pretty Counter-Christian?

So in Germany we have all of that stuff just handed to us; it’s easy to get to here. In America you’re not allowed to drink in public or you have to wait until you’re 21, but here it isn’t like that. Everyone here usually starts drinking around 15–really early. When I was 15 I started to drink and smoke weed. It was the same with most of my friends. Life was school during the week and drinking, partying, and skating on the weekends. Then my family and I came to visit my brother when he was interning with Ride Nature. As soon as I visited you guys, I started to ask God who He was and seek Jesus. I began to question if it was good or not to get wasted–like if it was good for my body or even my soul. When I came back to Germany all I could think about was my old habits but they actually pushed me to pursue Jesus even more. The more I steered away from those old habits, the easier it was to walk away from them. I wasn’t drinking all that much and would just watch all of my friends and classmates get hammered on the weekends. As I started to grow in my faith I saw that it wasn’t good for me to drink so much beer or lose control of myself at parties and I pretty much stopped drinking and smoking. Now a lot of my friends and I will still go to parties, but we’re not getting drunk or smoking, we just chill and hang out, and honestly, share the Gospel. We’re trying to make it clear that people who go to parties are allowed to be Christians and vice-versa, in the sense that Christians can party too–but in a different way. We should definitely be partying. We’ve got Jesus! We are living our best life! We can go to parties and we can be the light. So many people just think, “partying is bad, you should just stay home.” But I really believe we can go and we can be the light–we don’t have to run away from it. Like in Matthew, when Jesus says we’re not supposed to put a bowl over our lamp. In the same way, when we run away from places or avoid certain places where we could be the light to those people, it’s like we’re putting a bowl over our lamp. That’s my opinion on this topic right now.

What was the thing that really changed you and your lifestyle at such a young age? It’s not easy to stand up for what you believe and go against the crowd–especially in high school.

For me it really was just focusing. By focusing on Jesus and my life with Him, I learned a ton and even developed a new identity that was based on Him as well. I feel like when I would drink it was because I was running away from my identity. I would get drunk and would lose control of myself. I would try to dance or check out girls because I thought that if I could give off the impression of a different identity, maybe they would like me more. I was afraid to just be myself. But as that shifted and changed, I stopped running away and started running toward a new identity. When I met Jesus and began to grow into my new identity in Him, I realized that I could be who I really was. I realized that I didn’t have to be king because Jesus was my King.

What did your parents think when you told them you wanted to turn their barn into a skate bowl?

They were like, “Yeah, we don’t know about that. That’s one of your crazy dreams.” Ha! I wish I had a picture of what it looked like before–it was so messy man. There were old cables and blankets and junk everywhere. It smelled so bad too! I had the idea during a school holiday. I told my parents we should restore the barn and do a skate bowl because we didn’t have a skatepark. I’ve had a lot of dreams of projects and stuff I wanted to do and that was for sure one of them. At the beginning my parents thought I wasn’t going to follow through, but after a few days of pulling all of the junk out of the barn, my parents started to see the vision and we got it all cleared out and organized. At that point they were all in! My dad taught me how to use all of the tools; he’s into that stuff. The rest is history!

What is your big vision for what you’re doing? What is God putting on your heart lately?

After my trip to Japan with Ride Nature I learned that there is a mission field all around me. Missions doesn’t mean that I have to pay for an expensive plane ticket or go somewhere far–I can literally walk right outside. My dream for Cologne and this area is for all of the young people to have a place they can find community and get the chance to discover Jesus; a place that is a light in the community. My hope is that young people will just show up and they’ll find Jesus. This is really what we’re doing through Bowl Church–it’s a place where everyone feels welcome and they can grow in their faith. So really something like that. Maybe bigger. Maybe a coffee shop or retail shop with it.

Do you feel like you’ve outgrown the space in the barn?

Recently we’ve had too many people. In the winter we had 125 people in one service and it was too much. The barn was so packed that we almost had to turn people away that night. We’ve talked about splitting it into two nights. But during this time with COVID we’ve been working on the foundation. Not literally, just metaphorically. We are working on setting up the non-profit and also smaller groups with more leaders like home groups. We actually have a ton of home groups meeting right now, but as soon as we get the go-ahead to go back to having services together we’re going to need to find a bigger location. That’s the dream. A place like The House of Ride Nature so that people can come in 24/7. We definitely want to host events and larger groups of people.

You’ve been on a bunch of trips with us, but what was your favorite one?

Honestly, I really liked going to North Carolina during hurricane Irma. It wasn’t really a planned mission trip, but I thought that was the sickest part. We just picked up and left to evacuate and we talked to people about Jesus the whole time we were there.

What advice would you give a young person that’s wanting to start something?

Just do it. If something is on your heart just go for it. Full send. Don’t worry or be ashamed if it doesn’t work. Remember, your identity isn’t based on your successes or failures. I used to think, “What if Bowl Church doesn’t work out or what if it fails?” Even as a Christian, I let my identity become a part of the thing I was leading. You are who you are, regardless of if it works out or not. Bowl Church is rad and I love what I’m doing, but I’m Ingmar…I’m not Bowl Church. That’s my main advice. Let Jesus keep you hyped up, wait for Him to give you the visions, and definitely keep going full send with the mission!